From a young child I was always interested in old houses - small cottages similar to those in England looking out over rolling fields and hills and dreamt of having one, one day.
In 2002 I was delighted to find a small cottage overlooking Lake Hayes, just 4 kms from Arrowtown, with views towards Coronet Peak. The cottage which was created out of a 145 year old stacked schist barn had been added onto in 1979 to make a small 3 bedroom holiday home and since then had been left unchanged. The walls in the bedrooms were still the same brilliant red, green and navy blue it was painted originally, the kitchen was without microwave or dishwasher and had small mosaic tiles on the bench and splash back. Everything was original which was ideal.
The living area downstairs is part of the original construction of 45cm thick stacked stone walls held together with mud, the flooring was fortunately heated in 1979, and then laid in irregular sized slate. It is easy care, low maintenance and just perfect for the regular short stays I have when there on business.
I had opened a showroom in Arrowtown in June 2010 and for the first 2 years had stayed in a variety of hotels in the area, but to now have somewhere with comfortable furniture, bed, fabulous bedlinen and a place to cook my meals rather than eating out was a dream come true.
The furniture I have used in the cottage is a selection of mismatched items we had in the Auckland Cavit&Co warehouse – items which had largely not sold, or had slight damage. But this mixed collection at least 15 of our ranges, came together into a perfect blend with a special harmony. A mix of furniture from Ralph Lauren to Central Station, to McGuire and Verellen; lighting from Visual Comfort, Tekna and Julian Chichester; fabrics from Barbara Barry, Ralph Lauren and William Yeoward; Rattan from Mehitabel, McGuire and Ralph Lauren to name a few.
It is fabulous that it looks collected, rather than selected which is the best possible outcome for any interior. Although I literally did the selection in an hour based on my stock list, I don’t think it would have been better suited if I had taken a week, or a month to select each item. Each item was perfect for use and location.
I have painted out the strong colours upstairs to make it more restful, but left downstairs largely intact, including the original drapes showing American wildlife which is always a point of conversation with visitors and friends.
The outcome is a home which is incredibly relaxing, where you can turn up, open up the curtains, either swing open the doors or light the fire and put your feet up on the sofa and just totally relax.
I’m pleased I don’t have a dishwasher there, or a microwave. It takes time to do things. Living at a more leisurely pace, to cook everything fresh from scratch, take time to talk with friends while washing the dishes. It harks back to an easier, less hurried time.
I say the location is magic, and it may well be, as many people who know the region agree.
The cares of the world dissipate, you stop, breathe, enjoy the view, share with friends and family, sit in the sun or in front of a roaring fire, cook, make jams, laugh, sing, but most of all it is a place to stop and reflect and count your blessings.
It has proven to be the perfect spot to nourish the soul and makes you realise what life is really all about.
I found it very interesting two years ago when Barbara Barry was staying with me at the cottage that she said she was looking for a place just like my cottage in the USA and how hard she was finding it. Like me, she was looking for simplicity in her life. I thought it so strange that both Barbara and I have worked so hard for 25 years in our business’s, both under immense pressure and what we both yearn for is simplicity. Possibly an interesting lesson for us all.
If you haven’t been to Arrowtown and the Lakes area, you must, and I hope you find it as magical as I have.
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