Rough luxe

Erin O’Malley, of Auckland design store Madder & Rouge, shares her method for making her Point Wells barn unrecognisable from its kitset roots. 

Darran and I bought the land four years ago. Exploring Matakana one weekend, we came across Point Wells completely by accident, fell in love with its sleepy vibe, and decided to build a holiday home here. We built a kitset barn on the site two years later because the barn aesthetic suited both the site – with sheep and a horse being our nearest neighbours – and our pocket. Also a barn-style home ticked all our open living boxes – we love every inch of our space!

The right mix 
We have always loved the French farmhouse aesthetic mixed with a whitewashed Moroccan/Indian interior, with lots of concrete, wood and linen – quite a combination really! We wanted to translate this into a kitset barn in a New Zealand setting, but I have a major aversion to faux-French, so we kept it as authentic as possible.

The right results 
I would call the overall result ‘rough luxe’, as I love texture perhaps more than colour – but I also enjoy luxury, as most of us do! Beautiful candles, fresh flowers, softness underfoot, a touch of something metallic. I don’t do bling – not one bit! But I love things to be a bit rustic, roughed up and lived in, with something sharp and modern thrown into the space to add contrast and energy.

Defining spaces 
We hand-painted the internal side of the barn doors in a triangular graphic design, which was truly a labour of love. I felt it needed the fresh burst of colour – the angular design helped define the space and give it both life and energy. Likewise, our main living area, the last third of the barn, also needed definition. I decided again to paint it using the beautiful Porters Stone Paints. This time I chose a square grid pattern that mirrored the huge grid pattern of the joinery in the main entrance to the deck. Inside, we used an 18th-century French shop counter as our extended kitchen bench and island, and old French factory lights above the concrete kitchen bench.

Colouring in
After 13 years in retail, dealing with everyday colour and combinations, I’ve learnt that colour is a very personal thing. I think it is important not to overly colour-match everything in your home, as it will strip it of energy and make it feel stiff and formal. Treat the use of colour in your home like a painting – think about how your eye travels around the room. Is it too flat? Where is the texture or depth? Are the pops of colour grounded? Or is there too much of it with no point of definition?

Intuitive choices 
I’m very wary of trend-driven interiors. Homewares and interiors have become extremely fashion motivated, hence the copies of every designer item everywhere at cheaper and cheaper prices, with colour palettes that change constantly like clothing. This keeps you in the market spending your money creating new interiors all the time and breeds dissatisfaction with what you already have. My mantra is do what you love, what makes you happy. If it is not in ‘fashion’, who cares? Wait a couple of years and it will be!

African vibes
My inspiration for the colour palette came from the gorgeous colours used in African mud houses. I could live quite happily inside one of those houses forever, surrounded by bold strokes of ochre, soft pink, indigo, sky blue, black and mud red. Porters Stone Paint helped create this vibe, giving the wall a wonderfully organic feel.

Words Anya Brighouse  
Photography Chris Sisarich


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