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Tones, textures, and the rhythm of forms can all contribute to your home's sense of harmony and easy pedestrian flow

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A careful use of tones and textures can have a telling impact on an interior. Running feature colours or surfaces throughout a home brings an overall unity – but subtle shifts in hues and finishes can create a visible difference between, say, formal and informal spaces.

This advice comes from interior designer Prudence Lane, who took this understated approach when asked to create a chic, personable interior for this home.

"People keep photo albums and diaries to record their lives and you can reflect your life and family history in your home as well," she says. "For this project, the family already had many evocative pieces. I placed them in the best possible light and introduced a sense of progression through the space."

The original house was extended and private and public spaces turned around so the living areas are downstairs and the bedrooms up. Entry is now through a dramatic gallery space, then down a set of wide stairs into the kitchen, informal dining and lounge areas. The formal living and dining rooms are set apart through large glass doors.

Walking into the gallery entry space, visitors are greeted by an antique table, a glass balustrade, grouped photographic works and an oil painting of a rose.

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"The use of glass panels, antique furniture, contemporary photography and a traditional painting all intimate the eclectic nature of the greater interior."

Lane placed all these pieces to optimum effect, with the photographs grouped together. This allowed for free wall space on either side.

"You can use unadorned wall spaces to set up a visual rhythm – wall space, followed by artefacts, followed by wall space," says Lane. "Together with the long stretch of pale floor and glass balustrade, these photographs lead the eye towards the rose painting at the end of this space."

The blond wood flooring plays another part in directing visitors' attentions, too.

"A graphite carpet running down the stairs provides a prominent contrast to the pale flooring, encouraging visitors to move down across this darker colour to the public spaces beyond.

Downstairs, it made sense to give the central, open-plan kitchen a light, reflective quality – so as not to outweigh the surrounding spaces. The workspace features cool glass and stainless steel, but in such a way as to avoid an industrial feel.

"By keeping elements long and slender, as with the slim island counter top here, you can avoid a chunky look. The island's negative detailing furthers this effect. Glass-fronted cabinetry and the freestanding butcher's block, on wheels for convenience, let the light flow through the space."

Adjacent to the kitchen, an informal dining space and lounge area extend the use of glass with the tabletop and the sliding doors that open to the formal spaces.

Greys, whites and black dominate these areas, and an emphasis on the functional and breezy is appropriate to this busy family space. Colour highlights are provided by a red foot stool, red chillies and the occasional red cushion amongst black and patterned ones.

The formal living and dining areas beyond the glass doors offer similar colours but in softer shapes, tones and textures.

"Whites in the family rooms translate into warm white and beiges here. The furnishings are finer and softer, but you still need darker elements, such as the carpet and tables, to anchor the room."

The pedestrian flow leading from the upstairs entryway ends in this soft, neutral living area. The fireplace, centred on the glass doors leading from the family spaces, symbolises the heart of the home.

First published date: 23 January 2006

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Credit List

Architect Stephenson Architects
Interior designer Prudence Lane Design (Auckland)
Builder JRC Ltd
Floor Maple
Kitchen designer Circles and Squares
Splashback Painted glass
Benchtop Quartz
Informal dining table and chairs Corniche
Modular lounge suite Macrosuede in graphite from Forma
Formal dining table Republic
Formal dining chairs Casa-onyx from Warwick Fabrics
Lounge cushions Seneca Tizian red-covered
Formal lounge chairs Furniture Werks
Bedhead Wood covered in Warwick fabric
Children's bedroom curtains Lytton petal gingham
Entry and bedroom carpet Shortland graphite from Feltex
Bathroom wall tiles Off-white
Bathroom floor tiles Graphite in 600 x 300mm profile