Written by John Williams
Her designs are unique and diverse, calling upon a wealth of experience gained here in New Zealand and also in the UK and South Africa. We recently caught up with Natalie at her Waitakere studio hideaway she now calls home.
Why did you choose to live in Titirangi?
"The minute you head up Titirangi Road you feel like you have left the stresses of the city behind; and it takes less than 30 minutes to get to the city, outside of rush hour. When my friends from the city come and visit, they tell me that it feels like they are coming out to their retreat. It feels like it is a secret place that not many people know about."
“Every part of Titirangi has a unique charm, from the unpretentious, communal atmosphere in the village, to the feeling of being isolated and elevated in the hills amongst all this natural beauty."
What have been some of the unexpected highlights of moving into the area?
“I have been here for just under two years, now, and each day when I look out of my window I feel a sense of appreciation of living in such an unspoilt environment. Daily visits from Tuis, Wood Pigeons and Rosellas are a real highlight; not only seeing them, but also listening to their constant activity. It certainly has a calming effect on me. An abundance of fantastic walking and cycling tracks on our doorstep is also a big plus, as is being able to hop in the car and be at the most stunning West Coast beaches, like Piha and Karekare, in less than 30 minutes.”
Describe your own house and what plans have you got for it?
“I have a single-storey, 1950’s brick home. It was bought with renovation in mind, but nothing has been done yet. So far, my time has been consumed with my client’s projects, but there are big plans to optimise its potential. The views are really what make this home special. Looking out towards the Manukau and Waitemata harbours feels like we are on top of the world.”
Are there any unique challenges about designing kitchens and bathrooms in this area?
“The design process is pretty much the same as it is in the city. However, Titirangi and its neighbouring suburbs have a real variety of homes, so the look and feel of the projects I am working on are all individual. I think that is what I like most about the area, as my work is very varied too. I never do the same design twice.”
What’s the starting point for your designs?
“My starting point is always about getting to know my clients. I need to understand what makes them tick to be able to give them a home that makes them feel good to live in."
Two of your designs in local homes have won national awards. Tell us about them?
“Nature has to be one of my biggest sources of inspiration – the colours, the shapes. If it works in nature, it will certainly work in design. Taking cues from other creative fields like fashion, or even cooking, also helps.”
“Last year, one of my kitchen designs, in a house in Oratia, was awarded the ‘Most Innovative Kitchen’ by the National Kitchens and Bathroom Association (NKBA). This was a challenging project as my clients are avid collectors of Mid-Century furniture, and so the kitchen needed to work in well with these iconic designs. They also told me of their strong dislike of ‘white sterile kitchens’, and that they wanted a bold kitchen, defined by warm natural materials.
“In response to this brief, I selected Australian Blackwood timber for its rustic grain and strong similarities to timbers used in 1950s. I also incorporated a custom handle design into all the cabinets, inspired by a piece of furniture I discovered from the same era. And to finish it off, copper and stone accents are featured throughout, to further complement the natural feel of the home.”
I feel so very proud to now be a part of the Titirangi design community, continuing the long tradition of design and creativity in the area.
“This year, I was a winner again – this time the runner-up NKBA Best Bathroom (national) and Best Bathroom in Auckland with another project in Oratia. It was a fun project to work on, with a real mixture of natural products and finishes. Bright floral Vivienne Westwood wallpaper, cut-crystal glass pendants, and dark pearlescent shell mosaic tiles were teamed together with brushed-steel tapware, generous hand basins and a beautiful bathtub, to create a space of opulent luxury.
I’m a real foodie, and Titirangi has lots of hidden gems when it comes to eating out – here are a few of my favourites: For weekend brunch, my first choice is Stripe Cafe, tucked away from the main drag down South Titirangi Road. Set in a converted brick and tile home, this café has a really cosy and friendly atmosphere. They have a lovely courtyard area that is just wonderful in the summer months. Deco Eatery is Titirangi’s newest eating destination. It has beautifully designed interiors and relaxing feel, plus good coffee and tasty food. Deco Eatery is located inside the iconic Lopdell House that is right next door to the newly refurbished contemporary art gallery, Te Uru. Lunch or Dinner at The Refreshment Room on Scenic Drive is always a treat, with its flavourful modern Italian-inspired menu and some of the best homemade pasta and deserts in Auckland. Their homemade ice creams are definitely worth saving room for. Last, but not least, Artisan Wines for lunch and wine tasting on the weekend.
Food Shops & Markets
Nolas Orchard, fantastic fresh farm store for fruit and vegetables
Organics Out West, for healthy food options
Clarks Butchery, brilliant for organic meat, with fantastic service
Crafty Baker, yummy bread, cakes, pies and pastries
Oratia Farmers Market on a Saturday morning
Titirangi Market on the last Sunday of the month
Cornwallis Beach for picnics and a walk along the Wharf
French Bay for walking, sailing, canoes and picnics
The beautiful West Coast beaches all within 20-30mins drive
Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Lopdell House
If you like your golf, there’s Titirangi Golf Club