Emily Hunt knows a thing or two about moving house. While growing up in Sydney, the interior designer lived in more than 17 homes, thanks to parents who were serial renovators. Not only did Emily inherit their DIY gene, she also learned never to get too attached to a house.

But the mother of two is making an exception for this house in Raumati Beach, a 260sqm oasis tucked into native bush that she and Kiwi husband Ollie bought in 2018 after four years of looking.

“I was used to older, character homes so wasn’t keen on anything modern,” Emily says. “But this house had everything on our wish list – four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage.” It was also near the beach and schools for their children Indiana and Eddison. Home INP1

Emily, who started an interior design business a year ago, admits it didn’t take long to fall in love with the polished concrete floors, open-plan layout and abundance of windows that flood the space with natural light.

Although their home’s layout worked for them, the couple weren’t fans of the stark and cold minimalist interior.

Handily, Ollie is a builder who installed wooden shelves next to the fireplace to add warmth. Emily also ran riot with colourful aquatic-themed wallpaper in the compact downstairs toilet and painted the other walls pink and green. “It was so bare, I wanted to have fun with it.”

The Aussie import clearly isn’t afraid of colour: she also splashed colour in the three upstairs bedrooms, especially in Eddison’s room where she designed and marked out an orange painted triangle that reaches up the wall and across the roof. “We wanted something bright and bold that Eddie would love.” 

In the light-filled master bedroom, the star of the show is the bright green botanic wallpaper behind the bed. Emily spotted it online and imported it from the UK. However, not everyone understood her design aesthetic. Home INP2

“It was a bit of a disaster because our tradesman initially hung it upside down!

And then I realised I’d been sent the incorrect wallpaper. So they sent me new wallpaper and this time I made sure it was hung the right way.”

But it was worth it for the lush green living wall effect that adds to the home’s warmth and character.

Most of the couple’s furniture made the move from their previous homes, including several pieces from the terraced Sydney house they owned for seven years.

“That house was only three-metres wide; Ollie had to make a lot of the furniture to fit. We sold most of it with the house.”

The couple are fans of mixing old and new, such as the vintage Euphonium (a musical instrument) Emily found in a secondhand shop which reminded her of her grandfather who played one, and the gramophone bought in Sydney she turned into a ‘vase’ for their wedding. “We filled the gramophone with flowers which looked amazing.”  

Both Emily and Ollie love collecting art, and their spoils are dotted throughout the house.

“We’ve previously had lots of walls to hang art, but in this house, there are so many windows, it’s hard to find the space.”

Instead, they’ve utilised the walls next to the staircase to hang a combination of family photos and colourful sketches and paintings.

Of special significance is an oil painting of Manly Beach, close to Emily’s former home, which was a gift from her parents and has pride of place in the guest bedroom. Another colourful work by the same Australian artist hangs above the living room fireplace.

Having grown up in sunny Sydney, outdoor living is important to Emily. It’s why she replaced a fountain with a courtyard area that’s sheltered from the wind and is a favourite spot to spend time. The pair is also green fingered; Ollie looks after the outside gardens while Emily is responsible for the many indoor plants.

The couple recently removed five large macrocarpa trees on the northern side of the property, allowing more light into the living area.

They’ve also added retaining walls, veggie gardens and perennials.

Having seen how happy and settled the couple is, both Emily’s parents and her sister have since followed her lead and moved from Australia to Kāpiti.

“It’s wonderful that we get to share our home with family and friends,” Emily says. 

Reported by Sharon Stephenson for our AA Directions Spring 2020 issue

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