A heritage Ponsonby home renovated by owner Olivia Moon of Nodi and architect Barbara Webster

There’s an art to blending old and new, and they’ve mastered it here from the ground up.

Creating spaces with feeling is something Olivia Moon is passionate about, and combining old and new is her go-to tool for making a house feel like home. The founder of handmade-rugs brand Nodi says, “I love pieces that have already lived for 100 years and will continue for another 100; great design will last that long.”

ABOVE The couple selected their Arcade Sofa by Simon James for its low profile that doesn’t interrupt the view out of the original sash window. With it stand a vintage marble side table from Babelogue and a Toobe lamp by Kartell. The painting is from Aona Hayashi’s Sumi series from Public Record.

One such find was the landmark concrete villa in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby where she and her entrepreneur husband Jeremy now live with their children. “The bones of this place really caught our eye,” says Olivia. “Jeremy and I could see there was an opportunity to restore the building to its former glory.”

TOP Decorative vignettes dot the house. Here, home tomes and a Bloom lamp by Resident are arranged on a vintage unit Jeremy bought overseas, under another Sumi series painting by Aona Hayashi from Public Record. Riwaka Valley by Colin McCahon can just be seen above the fireplace. ABOVE Items on this antique table from Country Trader include an egg sculpture from Fourth St, a vintage lamp from Fehn Store and a Hollow vase by Margi Nuttall from Simon James. The artwork is by Allen Maddox from Gow Langsford Gallery.

Dating back to 1889, the four-bedroom house is one of the oldest in the area. “It has a very colourful past,” says Olivia. “It was built as a grand home, and then became a boarding house.”
That said, colour was the furthest thing from the couple’s mind when realising their renovation plans. The home was decked out in opulent hues, ornate wallpapers and velvet drapes, so they sought to update it with a lighter, brighter look, and began by relining the ceiling, painting the walls, and replacing the dark brown timber and sisal flooring before they moved in. 

ABOVE Removing an internal wall and increasing the stud height created a generous formal dining and living area, in which the ceiling moulding and roses were replaced to restore the integrity of the space. The high ceiling meant lighting was an important consideration; above the table is a Fora 90 pendant by Bover, also from ECC. “I never have all the lights on full bore,” says Olivia. “I prefer to light interior moments instead, as it helps to punctuate an open-plan space.” The engineered French oak flooring throughout the house is by Forté, topped here by a Pony Braid rug from Nodi. The vintage dining table from The Vitrine is teamed with Pila chairs by Magis from ECC.

Having honed her eye for all things flooring during her years at the helm of Nodi, Olivia was inclined to work from the ground up when selecting their material palette, and layered the new wide-plank smoked-oak engineered timber with large area rugs. 

ABOVE A Pebble Weave rug from Nodi visually separates the living area from the adjoining kitchen. These Vibo Vesoul Cantilever chairs are by Adrien Audoux and Frida Minet from The Vitrine, and the Offset stool is by Resident, while the lighting here includes a Hotaru Buoy pendant by Ozeki & Co and a Lampe Mantis by DCW Éditions from Tessuti.

“I think lightening up the floors is the thing that’s transformed the house the most,” she says. “Because of all the trees on our street, the ground floor doesn’t get a huge amount of light, so bringing in a lighter wood and ripping up the sisal that ran up the stairs and through the rooms on the second level has really changed the whole feel.”

ABOVE The kitchen’s generous island bench made from Sofia marble from Artedomus is paired with Buddy tapware by Progetto that’ll develop a lovely patina over time. The Falcon range cooker suits the style of the house, while a Fisher& Paykel fridge/freezer and dish drawers are integrated into the cabinetry by Bjoern May. “I always used to notice these Cornet pendants by Tsé & Tsé Associées hanging in Tessuti,” says Olivia of the trio of lights she’s used here. “They have such a beautiful shape and add a handmade element to the room.”

Muted earth tones come together here in a texturally rich palette of paint, plaster, marble, linen, jute and wool. “We didn’t want this to be a whitewashed house — our aim was to strike a balance between making it clean, elegant and modern without being sterile,” says Olivia. “We played around with a lot of paint to get the colours right. Resene were really helpful and made up a Resene Double Yucca for the entrance that wasn’t a standard colour in their range. Then we settled on Resene Double Black White for the rest of the house, which has a slightly grey tone
to it without being cold.”

ABOVE This 19th-century French folding table from The Vitrine was purchased as a side table for the living area, but Olivia (top, with daughter Billie in the courtyard) says “it made its way into the kitchen and now we often squish in around it because we love this space in the evenings so much.”

Downstairs is divided into two large living areas with zones for lounging, cooking and dining; the latter also functions as an office space when WFH is required. It wasn’t until they moved in that Oliva and Jeremy realised the kitchen wasn’t meeting their needs in terms of functionality and flow. “We both like to cook and entertain, and we have a large extended family — my brothers live nearby and Jeremy’s daughters are often up from Wellington,” says Olivia. “It’s normal for
us to have eight people for dinner.”

ABOVE A Sumartra side table and Nairobi chairs, both from Design Warehouse, create a conversation zone in the courtyard. The concrete out here echoes the plaster finish of the kitchen walls. “We were going to paint them, but ended up loving the plaster, so we left them,” says Olivia. “The connection was a happy accident.”

Setting up a temporary mini kitchen in the laundry with a microwave and camp stove, they began phase two of the renovation, this time engaging architect Barbara Webster’s expertise. The floor space was limited, so full-height cabinetry was installed, detailed with vertically grooved panels to create the illusion of depth. A marble island with a waterfall edge takes the effect further, drawing the eye up and over it towards the French doors and garden beyond.
Dappled light filters into the kitchen and living area; it’s a particularly special place to be in the afternoons. When the doors are flung open, the spaces expand out into the courtyard, where music from nearby Ponsonby Road can often be heard on the breeze. 

ABOVE Olivia and Jeremy opened up their bedroom by taking out a wall to ditch the hall that ran between here and the ensuite. They opted to keep the existing chandeliers, complementing them with a vintage table lamp from Babelogue and a Charlton floor lamp by Visual Comfort from ECC. The vintage bedside table and milking stool are from Fehn Store, the artwork on the left is by Hannah Nathan from Wall Street Studio and the work on the right is a Matisse lithograph. Linen from Matteo, Libeco and Numero 74 dresses the bed.

Walking distance from home, the Nodi atelier shares common ground with the look Olivia has created here, influenced by her love of natural materials and affinity for time-honoured craftsmanship and the handmade. Having studied textile design in Italy and spent years helping her customers find the perfect pieces for their interiors, she says the process of styling her own  spaces has felt very fluid.
“I think my aesthetic has a certain look; it responds to the needs of each project, but there is a feeling I aspire to evoke. The combination of natural materials, modern design and antique items is a theme that carries through the spaces I create, and I really like the process of slowly finding things — it’s exciting! We’ve been here for over a year now, and we’re still not done, but I’m happy to wait for the right pieces to come our way. It’s kind of a quest.”

TOP With cushions by Ferm Living and a roll-up mattress from Father Rabbit, this old step-up window seat is a neat little nook where Olivia and Billie like to sit and read together. The couple had the curtains made from Satori Stonewash linen by Mokum from James Dunlop Textiles. ABOVE These wooden dolls in Billie’s room are by Alexander Girard for Vitra from Città, and the lamp was picked up in Paris.

Here, cherry-picking from different eras has created a look that transcends time. In the years to come, a few scuffs will probably appear on the walls and the marble might see a few spills, but it’ll all suit the setting — a home fit for family life, a place in which to gather together and make memories.   

Words Alice Lines
Photography Jackie Meiring


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