An opportunity for collaboration between interior designer Katie Lockhart and Bremworth resulted in the renovation of this 1975 Group Architects home in Herne Bay – and the creation of the custom carpet that grounds the spaces, imbuing a sense of warmth and vitality that ties the design together.
Suzy Timpson, owner of the home, was brought up around carpet. Her father started Cavalier Bremworth (now known as Bremworth) when she was just eight years old, and she spent weekends rolling around in the wool bales and playing with bright sections of off-cuts and samples. Inspired by the bold colours of the carpets she recalled from her childhood, Suzy became interested in bringing colour back to the carpet design process. She then reached out to interior designer Katie Lockhart to discuss the idea of a one-off custom colour partnership.
While they were talking carpet, Suzy realised that Katie would also be the perfect designer to undertake the renovation of her home – and so the two projects morphed into one. “I enjoy using colour in interiors over a neutral palette, which is unusual for New Zealand,” says Katie. “This is why Suzy thought of me for creating a bespoke colour for her carpet. It was a really good synergy and the perfect time for this project.”
Much of the townhouse’s interiors had been untouched since it was built in the 1970s, but it was these original features and the characteristic aspects of the Group Architects’ style that Suzy loved. In creating the new design, Katie worked with the existing architectural features and material palette, which meant restoring the kauri plywood walls and timber panelled ceilings upstairs to a rich glow. With these details remaining, the flooring became a significant element in creating a cohesive design.
“The existing carpet was a corporate blue-grey, and we knew we had to balance out the walls and the ceiling in terms of warmth and space and to add some depth of colour,” says Katie. “The carpet was really fundamental in terms of building up our finishes and specifications. Suzy and I spent time choosing the right colour, and we landed on a rich cinnamon/tobacco tone.”
Katie and Suzy were able to watch the carpet being made in the Bremworth factory. “It is interesting to me as a designer that the whole start to finish of the process is local,” says Katie. “The wool is from New Zealand sheep, and it is then processed, dyed and made into carpet all right here in New Zealand. Often when I work with custom elements, they have to be sent offshore. We gave Bremworth a tuft of yarn that we liked the colour of, and they matched that first time. The process was so easy and to be able to see it coming off the machines was really exciting.”
The carpet is lush underfoot and, much like velvet, changes in different lights. While most wool carpets are made using a wool spinning process, Bremworth is able to achieve a denser, stronger carpet through its specialty felting process. And with all the company’s carpets produced using 100% New Zealand wool, they are a more natural fibre option than those made from synthetics. These are qualities that will no doubt become even more sought after as more people look to work with carpet as a design statement. “There has been a tendency for some time to choose hard flooring with rugs,” says Suzy, “but I feel the tide is turning, and everyone who steps into my house is enamoured of the idea of wall-to-wall carpet.”
Contrasting with the warmth of the carpet and the kauri used throughout the majority of the home, in the bathrooms, a light-coloured Japanese rectangular tile is used for the walls and a square mosaic Artedomus tile on the floor, with a stripe that brings a classic European style to the space. This tile is also used for the bathtub, which along with a custom-made stained-glass window gives the room a sense of timelessness and also a point of difference.
Like the bathrooms, the kitchen was designed to balance the warmth of the colour palette, with blues and greens introduced and white walls giving a clean, calming look to the space. This is accentuated by the views from the kitchen over the harbour. “The house looks out to the sea, so we were echoing the colours seen outside,” says Suzy. “I find the kitchen very peaceful to work in.”
Built-in elements were also a key move in designing to the 1970s aesthetic of the interiors. Working with the changes in levels throughout the house, built-in bench seats ensconced in timber create a lodge-like feel in the living and dining spaces, inviting opportunities for relaxed, social moments. The cushions on these relate to the tones in the carpet, with a soft cinnamon velvet chosen for the couch in the snug and a subtly contrasting lilac in the dining area.
With the rich tone and lush texture of the custom carpet grounding the interiors, the result is a design that relates well to the era of the architecture but also brings a contemporary touch to the interiors that is understated, elegant and warm, with a distinct sense of hygge.