April 23, 2020

At home with Kate Sullivan

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Step inside this beachside home in New Zealand's South and enjoy the perfect mix of design and interior.

Tell us about your home


Our home has been a labour of love project for Daniel and myself spanning eight years. We fell for the house when it was on the market, the appeal was instant (even in the dire state it was in) but we could envisage the potential. It’s a cast in-situ concrete house, which was originally built in the 1940s, and we completed its restoration initially followed by a carefully considered alteration and addition completed a year ago. Our needs have changed over the years with our growing family but our overall vision for the house remained unchanged.

What are some things you can't live without

My family, my home, my garden, walks on the beach, the best quality coffee to start the day, a glass of delicious wine while preparing dinner, a creative outlet of some sort: whether it be designing a new house or weaving with Tī Kōuka leaves.

You are an architect. Where do you draw your inspiration for your designs from?

Inspiration ultimately comes from the client and their story or project brief. I’m really interested in the way people live, their rituals, and the way space well-designed can enhance this. The site also provides a great deal of inspiration. Whether this is the site’s context, micro-climate, outlook, topography, natural or built features or history: these help inform a direction for the design process and add layers of meaning to a built outcome.

Favourite fragrance?

In a perfume I’m often drawn to fig scent. When our boys were newborns their fragrance was my favourite – we often joked about how good it would be if we could bottle their scent! The ultimate scent would have to be sea salt-laden air in Sumner when the air is still – it fills me with happiness and positive energy.

Any advice for people about to embark on a renovation?

Don’t rush, get to know the subtleties of your home before making any major decisions and do your research (or engage an architect to do so!). “Don’t move, improve” is a very sustainable approach to home-making and in our practice we’re seeing more frequently the desire to retain and renovate or make alterations to existing homes.

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