House and Garden Article

IDG News   •   Nov 28, 2017

Interior designer Wendy Giltrap lives in the Hawke’s Bay with her son William, 14.

The house is about 140 years old and it’s nearly two metres off the ground because of the flooding in Clive – years and years ago there were big floods – and that’s why they’ve built it so far off the ground. It’s on big piles, it’s quite unusual.

It was basically the last house standing. All the houses and the woolsheds got flooded and washed away, but this house – she’s a monument – she’s just stood there through it all. She’s very proud.

In an earthquake, too, she loves it. She’s beautiful, the old girl, she’ll just crack on. She talks to herself, does a bit of a wave on the piles. We’re much more scared than she is. This particular room we call the White Room, because I work with a lot of colour during the day. I’m a real colour girl, but to come home to it, it’s very serene – there’s a sense of space, to relax, switch off.

It’s where we chill; we go in there and embrace what we’ve done during the day. It lets you do that, refreshes you, it’s got a good balance. Even though it’s very white it’s still a room you can really live in and be relaxed.

The painting is of a birthday present I was given, of a Belgian blue bull, for my 21st birthday. He didn’t work properly so he went to the works, but that was commissioned for me. Everything’s got a story. I was brought up with antiques, that’s my thing, and that’s what I find humbling about interiors – you can create a journey around your components and they become like your family.

Interview/ Josie Steenhart

Photography/ Vivienne Haldane