rom the street this home is fairly unremarkable. The pretty, turn-of-the-century villa painted in Resene ‘Half Villa White’ isn’t too dissimilar to many other homes on the street. However, it’s the front door, painted bright pink (Porter’s Paints ‘Carnevale’) and bearing a colourful wreath, that suggests the interior might be anything but. This colourful family abode is home to Annick Larkin, stylist and self-confessed colour junkie, her husband, Tim, and their three children, Lottie, Esther and Tom. The couple purchased their home in Auckland’s Remuera six years ago, having returned to New Zealand after a decade living and working overseas. “We had just started our family so we were looking for a home that was able to grow with us. This house was a fortuitous find as we’d been focusing our search in the suburbs of Point Chevalier and Grey Lynn. We just happened to drive past the ‘Open Home’
MERRY AND BRIGHT
This quirky, colour-drenched home is the perfect backdrop for a fabulously festive Christmas Text by Louise Lett. Photography by Emma MacDonald.
This photo A felt-ball garland makes a fresh alternative to beads and tinsel. Opposite An array of baubles, plants, typography and candles creates a festiveyet-different atmosphere in the family living room. Lottie and Tom prepare some homemade treats for Santa.
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LIVING, DINING, RUMPUS
Two large artworks by Maree Robinson of Big Dog Murals and a feature fireplace break up the moody wall tone in the living room. The children prepare for their annual Christmas party by wrapping presents and adorning them with a Christmas decoration, as well as setting the dining table; the table is covered in kraft paper bought in a roll from George and Willy. A magenta Christmas tree is certainly not out of place in this bright and colourful home.
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✚ With a young family, a ‘Merry and Bright’ theme is very easy to pull off. Get young children involved in creating ornaments, decorating the tree and wrapping presents – it’s lots of fun, keeps little people busy and they have a great sense of achievement at the end of it. ✚ Go beyond the traditional realm of white, green, red and silver when styling your home for Christmas. Vibrant colours lend themselves to a cheerful and whimsical sense of fun, which is exactly what the festive season is all about. ✚ Create your own gift wrap with brown paper, stamps, vinyl stickers and ribbon. The ideas are endless and it’s another great activity for children. One of my favourite websites is spoonflower.com – you can upload your own designs and have your gift wrap custom made. Ssssh, don’t tell everyone!
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This vibrant kid’s rumpus room painted in Porter’s Paints ‘Avalon’ with its contrasting yellow door is the perfect space for kids to play. On the table a George and Willy Studio Roller loaded with kraft paper gets plenty of use. The large commissioned artwork by Big Dog Murals (above), which pays homage to the home’s shady history as a former beer house, is one of Annick’s favourite things in the house.
sign one afternoon, walked in, loved what we saw and put an offer in that very same day,” says Annick. Having three young children makes Christmas a magical time for the Larkin family, filled with excitement, wonder and new family traditions. “For the last few years Lottie, Esther and Tom have hosted a Christmas party for their friends at our house,” says Annick. “The children make invitations, plan the menu, decorate the house and generally get excited weeks before the event. It’s a wonderful start to the festive season and a lovely way to catch up with close friends before everyone disperses for the holidays.” Since moving into their home, Tim and Annick have made mostly cosmetic alterations with the rear garden being their most recent improvement. “Tim and I don’t know one end of a spade from the other so the wonderful people at Team Sports Surfaces levelled the ground and installed turf for us,” says Annick. “What was once an ugly and under-utilised paved courtyard has been transformed into a wonderful garden that we are really proud of.” As for the cosmetic changes, the house didn’t come with its current bold interior. That has been Annick’s labour of love over the past few years. “The house had been recently renovated when we bought it and every wall was painted white. I love white, don’t get me wrong, it’s just I can’t live with it.” Wasting little time, Annick slowly began transforming the walls, doors, furniture and shelving from white to bright, doing all the painting herself. It’s clear that Annick’s children share their mother’s colour confidence as they each chose the daring wall colours for their own bedrooms. Wallpapers make an appearance too, but this isn’t reserved for walls, with Esther’s room featuring a bold Florence Broadhurst design on the ceiling. On a rare white wall, a pop-art mural is a custom creation by talented Auckland artist Maree Robinson. “Maree’s design is a clever play on our home’s history. In the early 1960s our house was used as an illicit beer house, as it was illegal in New Zealand for pubs to serve alcohol after 6pm,” says Annick. “Unfortunately, given the shady nature of the enterprise, the walls saw some Chicago-style brutality. Tim and I aren’t bothered about the home’s history and we absolutely love what Maree came up with. Her artwork is probably one of my favourite things in our home.” Given the unconventional colour in this home, it is unsurprising to find a Christmas tree as untraditional as the decor. The tree stands two metres tall and its beautiful magenta hue creates a striking contrast against the blue walls (Porter’s Paints ‘Avalon’) of the kids’ rumpus room. It’s delightfully and unpretentiously decorated in a mishmash of baubles, beads and ornaments that have been created by Lottie, Esther and Tom over the years. The pink front door is painted yellow on the inside (Porter’s Paints ‘Sweet Lime’) and the fireplace has been decorated with a colourful custom ‘Merry & Bright’ decal from KM2 Creative, baubles, candles and a gold kokedama plant. Yes, this fun, family home is anything but unremarkable. • ➜➜Find out how they got the look on PAGE 178.
Top The pink front door and contrasting Marimekko fabric wall hanging create a bold and welcoming entrance. Right Colour isn’t only reserved for indoors, with Annick having painted the courtyard steps in Resene ‘Smitten’.
For more colourful interiors go to
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WHO LIVES HERE? Annick Larkin (stylist and Your Home & Garden contributor), Tim Larkin (director), Lottie, 6, Esther 5, Tom, 3, and Oscar the cat. WHAT MAKES CHRISTMAS SPECIAL? My children’s excitement, spending time with both mine and Timbo’s families and forging precious family traditions of our own. ANNICK, WHAT IS ON YOUR CHRISTMAS DAY MENU? We usually start off with a breakfast of glazed ham and eggs. At lunch we enjoy a feast of crayfish and king prawns on the barbecue, followed by turkey and roasted and glazed
In a nutshell
vegetables. Desserts always include pavlova, jelly and ice cream, and a Christmas pud with brandy cream and custard. FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS? Homemade. Our children swell with pride when they decorate our tree with the multitude of decorations they’ve created at school and kindy, recalling the story behind each one they’ve made. WHAT ARE YOU USING AS CHRISTMAS WRAP THIS YEAR? I’m decorating brown paper with a selection of KM2 Creative vinyl dots, crepe ribbons, neon dinosaur decorations from Republic Home and a mix of tags from Tumbleweed Press.
Esther’s pretty-in-purple bedroom has a delightful wallpapered ceiling. Lottie’s room recently underwent a makeover taking it from a deep mulberry to an eye-popping medley of orange and pink. Timber and gold accents work perfectly with the green wall colour that Tom chose for his bedroom. Opposite The master bedroom palette is more refined with metallic and timber accents complementing the deep navy and soft grey walls. A colourful piece of art brings Annick’s love of colour to the otherwise neutral space.
“I LOVE WHITE, DON’T GET ME WRONG, IT’S JUST I CAN’T LIVE WITH IT”
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