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Creating warmth within

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An interior rich in texture, and warm neutrals inspired by nature, brings the outside in

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When a home causes the owners to grit their teeth as they walk in the door, complete relaxation is unlikely to occur, however tranquil the view from the window.

Initially, interior designer Sue Nauman was faced with the task of rejuvenating an 11-year-old home that was dated by a gaudy decor, but the project rapidly evolved into a job of grander proportions.

The owners' brief was simple: modernize and lighten the entire interior to create a feeling of warmth in a home that often felt chilly inside, even on a sunny day.

"The majority of the first floor walls and the staircase had been covered with an interior plaster product called substrate scrabble, which had a rippling effect on the surface," says Nauman.

Dark wooden beams across the ceiling and built-in pew-like furniture were removed from the living areas to open up the space, and the narrow staircase was widened.


As the house is situated on a golf course bordered by a majestic mountain range, Sue and the clients opted for a neutral palette of colors to recreate the many hues reflected in the hills.

"I often work against the idea of constantly using beiges and browns. However, when they're right, they're right. The existing colors were fighting each other, which isn't conducive to a harmonious atmosphere. Using colors from the surrounding area brought the warmth of nature into the house."

French doors were added into a solid wall at the end of the living area to capture the vista and allow more sunlight in.

A subtle color trio of darker carpet, lighter baseboards and neutral walls creates a feeling of being drawn in when entering a room, says Nauman.

"Using a darker shade on the floor sometimes has the effect of making a space seem smaller, but it also warms and grounds the room, creating intimacy."

To achieve the relaxed and informal atmosphere her clients desired, Nauman opted for furnishings in a mix of materials, with differing textures and colors being the key ingredient in making it work. Nauman says the look achieves simplicity and tranquility while maintaining the flow throughout the interior - and creating a house that feels good to come home to.

"Using different furniture styles in one room creates an informal scheme.

"Conversely, to create formality, use one design of furniture or match period pieces with accessories," says Nauman.

"But don't be afraid to experiment with different elements of design and texture. Breaking the rules can have great results."

First published date: 06 September 2006

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Credit List

Designer Sue Nauman, Sue Nauman Design
Builder Peter Williams Builder
Painter Steve Fraser Decorating
Furniture Designer's collection
Kitchen manfacturer QT Joinery
Countertops Trethewey Granite
Kitchen appliances Fisher & Paykel Iridium collection
Paints Resene Karen Walker Colours
Stair balustrade Dart Engineering