Shades of black and white

Contrasting textures and black, white, silver and pewter tones enliven a neutral backdrop in this city house
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View of the bathroom

Many new homes are finished in a neutral palette. But this doesn't mean you need to opt for a bland interior. Today interior designers and homeowners are more likely to view an understated room as a blank canvas on which they can stamp their own creativity.

Such was the case with the home featured here. Interior designer Neil McLachlan was commissioned to design an interior that would turn the home's neutral furnishings into something elegant, contemporary and dramatic.

McLachlan says both the architecture and the subtropical landscaping helped determine the look of the interior.

"Architecturally, it is quite a dramatic house, and the interior needed to reflect this," he says.

A new Brunschwig & Fils fabric chosen for the curtains in the living room provided a starting point for the design. This features a bold black and pewter pattern with a whimsical harlequin motif.

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View of the entrance way

Colours from the curtains are repeated throughout the living areas. A custom-mademirrored screen is trimmed in black, adding a classical detail and making the living room a little less symmetrical, says McLachlan. Two black leather chairs feature Dedar woven vinyl cushions in black and white, and a black velvet sofa is accented with cushions in a bold black-and-white Timney Fowler fabric. A chaise against another wall is covered in a Gaston Y Daniela striped charcoal fabric.

"As the room is large with good proportions, we opted for generously sized furniture pieces," says McLachlan. "These are in keeping with the scale of the room and help to make it feel more intimate."

To add a sense of depth to the living and dining areas, two recessed walls were painted in a dark brown-black shade.

McLachlan is wary of overdoing any theme, however, and likes to introduce an unexpected element to his interiors. In this setting he added an antique French Art Deco sideboard, which was restored and given new chrome handles to match the materials in the room.

"In these days of globalisation, there is a risk that contemporary interiors could ultimately look very similar. Introducing unusual, one-off pieces is a way to add visual interest and personalise a space."

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View of the dining area

Varying textures also enliven this interior. The dining chairs feature a Dedar fabric, with velvet and moire stripes in black and off-white. The custom-made chairs are taller than normal, to keep them in proportion with the high ceiling.

A casual family living area off the kitchen has a softer look, with linen curtains, light green chairs and a taupe modular sofa. A refurbished metal filing cabinet adds an unexpected touch, balancing the softer elements in the room. McLachlan also added built-in mahogany cabinetry with inset aluminium mesh.

Lush fabrics make another appearance in the master bedroom where a textured Dedar cut velvet features on the bed head. Light green and mauve tone are introduced in cushions that offset a textured cotton bed spread. Two dark-red chairs, previously acquired by the owners, and dark-stained tables provide a tonal contrast.

Aug 20, 2003

Credit list

Interior designer
Neil McLachlan (Auckland)
Window/door joinery
Ryan Aluminium
Carpet runners
House of Haghi
Brunschwig & Fils Cavalieri in living room
Dining chairs
Forma, covered in Dedar Allegro
Sofa table
Dark oak from Forma
Family room chairs
Forma Misha, covered in Jim Thompson Camouflage fabric
Filing cabinet
The Boiler Room
Kitchen cabinets
Stainless steel and American burrwood
Oven, hob, rangehood and refrigerator
Art consultant
Lenore West
Evora Alumina carpet from Cavalier Bremworth; imported Fossil Stone tiles; and timber from The Wooden Floor Co
Custom designed by Neil McLachlan
Sofa from Designers Collection covered in Warwick Silk Dynasty with cushions in Timney Fowler; Forma chaise covered in Gaston Y Daniela Stripe
Dining table
CC Interiors
Family room sofa
Ultimate Living
Coffee table
Drum from Caz Interiors
Anna Bibby Gallery, FHE Gallery, Gow Langsford Gallery, Jensen Gallery and John Leech Gallery
Benchtops and splashback
Indian Black granite
Bathroom fittings
American Standard
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