In Use - Project

Is it a home or is it a show home?

It’s not every day that a beautifully designed show home is in fact an everyday functioning ‘home,’ and in this instance it’s a stunningly redesigned two-storey house on the water’s edge of West Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand. 

With lovely views of the city and West Harbour Marina, homeowners and design duo Kate Gardham and Andrew Hollow watch the ferries and boats sailing past their door.

Kate and Andrew are partners in life and collaborate as a boutique design and construction business, Sticks + Stones, offering their clients key design and build services.  Kate’s work focuses on the colour selections and 3D design while Andrew takes care of the project management and build, whether that be residential or commercial projects.

Show homes have been a marketing tactic for many design build practices for years now, however creating a show home to live in and have it open for client viewing, is a different kettle of fish altogether.

“We wanted to be able to offer our clients an interactive experience where they could see and touch the materials, hardware and finishes and when presenting our 3D designs /colours and concepts to our clients we can take them through the ‘showroom’ and see it insitu, especially the quality and workmanship we offer."

“We wanted to be able to offer our clients an interactive experience where they could see and touch the materials, hardware and finishes.”  

This holistic experience ensures their clients get to see how the curtains drape, the tracking systems function, and the aesthetic of the puddling effect on the floor. Clients find it extremely helpful to see these elements in real life verses looking at a fabric swatch. 

“Because we also live here, it means we have to be super organised.  You should see all my drawer inserts in our kitchen, scullery and bathrooms for organisation and storage.  Everything has to look amazing and super clean with our show home being open to clients. We manage this process by appointment only” says Kate.

Originally, the home consisted of four-bedrooms however Kate and Andrew redesigned it to two bedrooms so they could gain a large office for client meetings and a must-have walk in wardrobe. 

Renovated over a period of 12 months, the inspiration for the show home design was based around simplicity, with the inclusion of luxury materials in addition to texture, tactility and colour playing a key role in design aesthetic. 

This overarching concept of ‘Textured Luxe’ saw Kate selecting 100% linen sheers in Laconia Air by James Dunlop for the lounge and bedrooms in a calming Lichen colour palette. Laconia Air is a wide width linen fabric with an airy finish to provide a softer handle and a subtle fluid drape. All the bedroom curtains have been lined on a double track with James Dunlop Broadline in colour Ash.  Broadline, unlike most coated linings, is a dimout lining which allows a small amount of light to pass through.  It has excellent washability and noise reduction properties and a soft thick handle adding fullness to light fabrics such as sheers.

Kate selected the linen Laconia Air for her love of natural fabrics and wanted to lightly filter the sun when required but still be able to see the stunning sea and city views. 

“The curtains really add a visual warmth to a space and was definitely required here to soften all our hard materials and finishes.  I love it when the linen curtains gently blow in the sea breeze, it gives a whimsical feel to our home.” Says Kate.

In addition, Kate thought outside the box and lined all her kitchen and scullery drawers using the Mokum Nullabor fabric which ties in elegantly with the designer kitchenware.  Mokum Nullabor is the ultimate high performance plain with a natural linen aesthetic. Woven in 100% solution dyed olefin, Nullabor delivers a linen look with superb heavy-duty characteristics – ideal for drawer linings.

Japanese finger tiles, brushed brass accents, steel and black oiled American Oak was purposely specified in dark tones to compliment and pop against the super white granite and coordinate with the soft grey linen curtains that puddle and drape on the elegant timber floors.

This clever strategy of home/show home is an effective showcase of the designer’s services.  “A client might start out with curtains and then they see we can design bathrooms and kitchens and so the scope of work increases.  Client’s love that we take care of everything from design to manufacturing and installation ensuring a cohesive flow throughout, rather than hiring different trades or designers for each part of their project. We have had really positive feedback so far from our clients” says Kate.

As we write this piece, Kate tells us she just won two NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) awards on the weekend for this very project.  Congratulations, we are excited to see more in the future from this creative and collaborative designer team.


Design: Sticks + Stones Boutique Design + Construction

Curtains: Prestige Curtains 

Photographer:  Emma MacDonald