You’re welcome in this Mt Eden home, redesigned with guests in mind
The inhabitants of this home absolutely love it and how it makes others feel.
It was a combination of strategy and timing that led Aucklanders Nicola and Josh Taylor to this home fit for their family of five and a regular flow of guests. They’d sold their previous property a few years prior in order to invest everything in their fin-tech company, Tax Traders, and had been renting while growing the company.
Starting a business and forgoing income for 18 months while raising three small children was a journey of faith for the couple, but six years on, with the company in full swing, they were ready to buy again. Functional living spaces, a pool and a sense of drama were among their wants, but ultimately, says Nicola, they wanted a home in which they could “extend manaakitanga [hospitality] to others”.
It didn’t take long before they found a property in Mt Eden that ticked enough of their boxes. The staircase winding up to the entrance of the colonial-style brick house had an air of grandeur that was elegant without being over the top, and inside the two-storey home was ample space for family and visitors.
The 1930s home stands under towering native trees at the base of the mountain. It has a long history and now, thanks to the couple’s well-considered makeover, it’ll be the backdrop to many more years of special stories.
The Taylors got to work before they moved in, painting, hanging curtains, adding a new pantry, replacing the staircase banisters, redecorating the children’s bedrooms and re-fitting the garage. Nicola got the biggest thrill from the kids’ rooms. “We sat back and watched them use their imagination, creativity and personal style to put together their own unique spaces,” she says. “They each chose something really individual, then our clever friend and stylist Amber Armitage helped pull their ideas together, along with overseeing the revamp of the main lounge, and family and dining rooms.”
For the more structural aspects of the makeover that began five months later, Nicola and Josh engaged Nick Sayes and Luke Jackson of Sayes Jackson Architects, who in turn brought Jayne Tolley of Trinity Interior Design on board to join them in mapping out an overhaul of the ground floor to complete the original vision Nicola and Amber had devised together, including a new study/playroom/guest room, bathroom and laundry, and a walk-in-wardrobe and ensuite for the master bedroom. Employing the couple’s life philosophy, affectionately dubbed “surprise and delight”, Josh worked with the architects to design passageways underneath the children’s bedrooms and a hang-out zone in the space between floors for them as well, accessed by trapdoors.
The updated interior reflects the Taylors’ classic yet confident style; they haven’t been afraid to use colour, print, pattern and texture to spread the surprise-and-delight factor throughout the house. The best part may be the dwelling’s ability to host a gathering — but there’s more to it than just having fun.
“For us, being generous with our home is the most important part of owning it,” says Nicola. “If it’s not being used by others for good, then we’ve really missed a trick. We’ve hosted family celebrations, children’s parties, engagement parties, baby showers, work functions, fundraisers for great causes and Christmas parties for the charities we’re engaged with.”
The kids have also developed a knack for entertaining. “They see manaakitanga all around them and are active participants,” says Nicola. “Violet can put together a platter without any involvement from me, Elsa can set up a great bar with glasses in tidy rows, and Ari will instinctively find a playlist, put on the music and light the candles. And they know that the most important thing is to welcome people, connect with them, and consider how we can make them feel at home. We don’t want people to feel impressed or intimidated when they visit — we want them to feel loved, cared for and inspired to do things their own way.”
There’s no television here, so board games, swimming and family basketball competitions are typical activities. Dinner time is sacred; the kids set the table every night and everyone debriefs on their day and shares a few laughs. The Taylors have definitely created what they set out to: a home large enough for sharing the love while maintaining a sense of intimacy for their tight crew.