New Plymouth downtown apartment transformed by stylish tenant

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Janine Evans has lived all over the world in houses large and small – farms in New Zealand and the UK, where she has also lived in terraced houses, an Italian villa hewn out of a hill under a castle, a lukanda in Malta and a cottage in Cambridge, Waikato. The list is long.

She was also a top maker. J (as everyone calls him) has remodeled homes from different decades, including those from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Janine Evans in her New Plymouth apartment next to Buddy, a digital collage by PJ Paterson, created to celebrate the Buddy Day campaign for Child Matters.  To the right, a Mr. Ralph's George Nelson-inspired Bubbly Saucer pendant hangs above a mahogany-topped dining table found on Trade Me;  the flower arrangement is by his daughter Carys, who looks from a photo next to one of her brother Tom, both taken by Michael Jeans for an exhibit at the New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa.

Jane Dove Juneau / NZ Home & Garden

Janine Evans in her New Plymouth apartment next to Buddy, a digital collage by PJ Paterson, created to celebrate the Buddy Day campaign for Child Matters. To the right, a Mr. Ralph’s George Nelson-inspired Bubbly Saucer pendant hangs above a mahogany-topped dining table found on Trade Me; the flower arrangement is by his daughter Carys, who looks from a photo next to one of her brother Tom, both taken by Michael Jeans for an exhibit at the New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa.

“But I’ve never been happier than in this one bedroom apartment,” she says of the rented space above a cafe just 200 yards from her job in central New Plymouth. .

There are seven cafes within 50m and there are restaurants everywhere. Across the street is an art design store, boutique brasserie, sourdough bakery and bespoke jeweler, and around the corner is the Len Lye Combined Center and Gallery of art Govett-Brewster, which also has a cinema. I don’t need a watch – beyond the window, the New Plymouth clock tower strikes the quarter hour throughout the day.

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Up the wooden stairs, her home is adorned with quirky artwork, filled with fascinating furnishings, dotted with lush green houseplants and lit by lights from Mr Ralph, the store where she works.

It was the opportunity to work in the lighting store that bought J in Taranaki two years ago. She was born in Invercargill and her family slowly moved up the country thanks to her father’s post office job. J moved to Taranaki in the 1980s, married a farmer from Urenui, opened a barbershop in the small settlement of Taranaki, had children Carys and Tom, and made good friends, especially with the artists John and Chris McLean. She then traveled abroad before settling in Waikato where she held high pressure jobs.

The living room features a mustard-gold ottoman purchased on Trade Me, a work by PJ Paterson titled Alliance of Defiance, Wave Invading Rock Pool by Michael Smither;  and on a mid-century UK sideboard is an Evie Kemp lamp called the Zombie Cats next to an antique dragon mirror from the local Bijou Eliot store.

Jane Dove Juneau / NZ Home & Garden

The living room features a mustard-gold ottoman purchased on Trade Me, a work by PJ Paterson titled Alliance of Defiance, Wave Invading Rock Pool by Michael Smither; and on a mid-century UK sideboard is an Evie Kemp lamp called the Zombie Cats next to an antique dragon mirror from the local Bijou Eliot store.

When she turned 60, a fear of health prompted J to make big changes. She quit everything, including her relationship, and went to Italy for two months and the UK for a month.

While J was in Italy, a friend who founded the lighting brand Mr Ralph got in touch: “Why don’t we set up a studio in New Plymouth? “Awesome,” J replied, knowing that beautiful lighting products would look great in the art-driven city. “I left my life and everything fell into place. If I had written a summary of my hopes and dreams, that would have been it, ”she said, pointing to the apartment, the living and working city center two minutes away on foot. “For me, it’s about coming home anyway… it’s my tÅ«rangawaewae. I was not born here, but he adopted me.

Despite renting the 1923 apartment, J was able to make a few changes, like painting the walls in Resene Merino cream white – she likes the walls to be a neutral canvas, then adds color through the furniture and art. . The apartment has polished mātai parquet: “People don’t like painting wood. I spent the first half of my life stripping off the original wood and the second half of my life painting wood. For me, it’s still wood.

She added Mr. Ralph’s lights everywhere. It was a brave move: “Especially the three-armed pendant. It was an important decision because he is praised. I had to bring in the electrician.

She had fun finding furniture and treasures to furnish the space. Recent finds include a mustard-gold ottoman bought on Trade Me and a grass-green armchair she had covered by a local upholsterer. She says these two pieces represent the best money she’s spent recently: “They change the look. She often takes care of restoration projects herself. “I love decorating the furniture.

Describing his decorating style as eclectic, J likes to mix old and new furniture, and recycling: “I’d rather have second-hand quality than new crap. She follows the philosophy of buying what you love and then finding a place for it when you get home.

In the bedroom, for example, a Designers Guild duvet, printed with hot pink peonies, is offset by bold parrot-patterned cushions from Kmart. “They’re almost Bollywood, aren’t they?” They could go with the living room curtains.

It’s a classic style à la J. She has the courage to mix classic design pieces, artwork, and plants, with items she’s found online, at second-hand shops and big chain stores. stores.

Space is maximized in the compact kitchen through the use of the vintage black leather bar stools, skinny bar and wooden shelf watched over by a John McLean collage made for J's 40th birthday;  Frankie amber swing arm wall light is by Mr Ralph.

Jane Dove Juneau / NZ Home & Garden

Space is maximized in the compact kitchen through the use of the vintage black leather bar stools, skinny bar and wooden shelf watched over by a John McLean collage made for J’s 40th birthday; Frankie amber swing arm wall light is by Mr Ralph.

She also identifies recycling opportunities where others cannot. Under the dining table are J’s hidden treasures: chairs from Junk & Disorderly in Auckland. Four of the chair seats were salvaged from goatskin and two from elephant skin. “I am a hideophile.”

These latter coatings came from an unusual source. In 2007, J was in Bangkok and decided to have a garment made. He was shown samples of ethically sourced mustard elephant skin and a jacket was sewn on. She didn’t get a chance to check it out and left Thailand with a jacket that never fit her. “He was sitting in the closet.” I hate garbage so I got it recycled. “There is the jacket on these two seats. “

There are also two Louis Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck for Kartell. “I like everything that is well designed.

In the corner stands a giant alien-like floor lamp and above the dining table is a George Nelson-inspired Bubbly Saucer pendant light in the shape of a UFO.

The apartment lobby looks like a mini art gallery, with works by artists PJ Paterson, John McLean, John Grgec, and Nicky Deeley. His apartment also houses works by Michael Smither, Deb Grgec, Michael Jeans, Peter Lambert, Jean Laming and Evie Kemp.

“Art is with you – it is part of your life. You take them as your children and they make a home wherever you take them. “

Beyond the apartment is a city full of art. For 30 minutes each morning, she walks past Len Lye’s wind wand and other sculptures, along the coastal promenade, the rugged Tasman Sea pounding the shore.

“I take a picture almost every morning and take a deep breath – I am living the dream.”

Q&A with J Evans

Best advice I have ever received: My friend Dot Newton told me that she always puts something black and white in every room.

Favorite family treasure: The floral embroidery made by my Australian great-great-grandmother.

Best decoration advice: Have a blank canvas. I use Resene Merino on the walls and bring color with my art and furniture.

The first thing I do when I get home from work is: Enjoy a G&T with locally made Juno Gin or one from the Fenton St.

Favorite outdoor spot: Pukekura Park.

A quote I often use: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

I love this part of New Zealand for: The amazing people, the mountain and the sea, the music and the artistic culture – it feeds your soul here.

A well-kept secret about this area: How sophisticated it is here with our restaurants and shops.

Best walk nearby: The coastal promenade.

A must see : Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.

Favorite local restaurant: Restaurant table at the Hôtel de Nice. It is also a great place to stay.

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