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Need a new house? How about right next door?

Words Sharon Stephenson | Photographs Paul McCredie | NZ House & Garden, 2020

This family didn’t move far for a new house - in fact, right next door.

Interior kitchen & garden design Wellington

David and Andrea McGuire in their new kitchen with youngest daughter Libby and new puppy Lola. Andrea echoed the black of the kitchen island in the Caravaggio pendant lights by Cecilie Manz for Lightyears, adding white barstools by Kartell to provide contrast.

Andrea McGuire didn’t have to go far when she moved out of her previous home – just next door, in fact.

“We cut a hole in the fence between the two properties so we could shift furniture,” says Andrea of the easiest move she, her lawyer husband David and their three children Alexander, 28, Harriet, 26, and Libby, 23, have ever made.

t also meant a less stressful renovation of the 1910 villa: not only were they able to live in their previous house for a year while the renovation was finished, Andrea was close enough to keep an eye on progress.

Although both Andrea and David are from Christchurch, they moved to the capital 30 years ago with David’s job. They’ve always lived in Khandallah, a suburb tucked high into the hills above Wellington Harbour.

Interior style & garden design Wellington

Wildflowers and artwork add a pop of colour in the dining area.

“We were in our previous house for 15 years and when the elderly owner of this place went into a home, we approached her children to buy it.”

The appeal was clear: one storey, a flat section and an established garden with the kind of classic old camellia trees Andrea loves.

The house itself was another matter. “It was very tired and little had been done to it for some time.”

Designers Guild & garden design Wellington

The sofas and cushions in the open-plan living space are from Designers Guild, sourced via Small Acorns, while the vintage Indian stool and table were bought from Small Acorns, the Bentwood chairs came from Thonet in Wellington, and the vintage table is from Vitrine in Auckland; Andrea has long been a fan of Kartell which is where the black pendant light is from

That translated to old dark wallpaper, a 50s-style kitchen and living spaces built for a generation that didn’t value light and functional spaces as much as we do now. “The house was the wrong way round for modern living, with the bedrooms at the front enjoying the best views and the kitchen, living and dining squashed into dark, small spaces at the rear.”

David Bromley & garden design Wellington
Bathroom & garden design Wellington
Light filled rooms & garden design Wellington

LEFT: The 17th century coffer (wooden box) is from auction house Dunbar Sloane, while the colourful artwork above it is by Australian artist David Bromley. MIDDLE: Andrea wanted to keep the family bathroom’s classic tongue-and-groove look but modernised it with contemporary fittings from BelloCasa in Wellington.. RIGHT: A restful corner in the main bedroom features a vintage chair Andrea had re-covered in Designers Guild fabric, while the floral curtains are also Designers Guild; a Sophie Klerk artwork hangs above a vintage Indian table

The couple called in Michael Stonyer from Reve Architecture who completely flipped their home’s script – moving the open-plan kitchen, living and dining spaces to the front of the house and relocating the three bedrooms to the back.

They also pushed out the western wall by two metres, not only to add another bedroom but also to ensure a more generous kitchen and dining area.

As well as some repiling, rewiring and replumbing, almost every element was changed except for the original sash windows in the sunny formal living space and in one of the bedrooms. David, who worked as a contractor while at university, did all the painting himself.

The result is a generous family home that works well for the couple and daughter Libby, the only one of their children still living at home. The 250sqm home has also proved the perfect backdrop for the many treasures they’ve collected during the years, both locally and during overseas travels.

Inside outside flow & garden design Wellington

Daughter Libby opted for bright artwork and Sweet Pea bedlinen by Castle in her bedroom; the Bubble Club chairs on the deck are by Philippe Starck for Kartell.

Andrea’s job as an accounts administrator for Wellington interiors store Small Acorns for 15 years gave her a front-row seat to the shop’s beautiful furniture and decorative pieces. That includes the Indian almirah (cupboards) dotted around the house which provide extra storage. They sit comfortably next to 300-year-old French coffers Andrea picked up at an auction years ago.

In the living room the couches and chairs were reupholstered in Designers Guild fabric from Small Acorns, while many of the rugs were picked up overseas.

Designers Guild fabric & garden design Wellington

The Moroccan rug was found in Byron Bay, Australia, while the sofa and chair are covered in Designers Guild fabric; the large painting is by Auckland artist Cruz Jimenez.

When it came to the kitchen, the couple had a definite wish-list. “We both love good food and sharing meals with family and friends so we wanted a spacious kitchen with lots of storage, which our previous house lacked,” says Andrea. They got their dream result, including a 2.7m-long kitchen island with a marble top. “Everyone told me marble would chip and scratch but that hasn’t been the case.”

Finding the right shade of grey tile for the splashback wasn’t so simple and Andrea hounded Auckland tile makers Middle Earth Tiles so much the company created some specially for her.

Turn left off the wide hallway and you’ll reach the master bedroom where the couple added an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe, filling the space with furniture that once belonged to David’s parents and which Andrea had re-covered.

The family bathroom borrowed space from the former dining room and Andrea chose tongue-and-groove walls and a black Italian basin to complete the contemporary look.

Wide verandah & garden design Wellington

Adding a generous deck to their Khandallah home allowed the McGuires to bring the outdoors in; The garden has been designed by, and the potted topiaries are from HEDGE Garden Design & Nursery in Wellington.

Keen to take advantage of their home’s all-day sun, the couple added decking around the house, as well as extensive planting. It means there’s always somewhere comfortable to enjoy the fruits of their labour when those pesky Wellington winds blow.

It also provides extra entertaining space when they host a full house for Christmas dinner. But this family’s journey to the festive season starts weeks earlier when they take a road trip to the Wairarapa to buy a fresh Christmas tree from the farm they visit every year. Then Andrea goes to town with lots of fairy lights and vintage glass baubles she bought at auction a decade ago.

“We were buying them for the shop but I fell in love with these 60s coloured balls and grabbed a couple of boxes.”


The McGuire's festive table setting is by Australian textile brand Bonnie and Neil, stocked by Andrea’s employer, Wellington interiors store Small Acorns; Andrea picked and foraged the wildflowers.

Q & A 


THIS TIME OF YEAR IS SPECIAL BECAUSE: After Christmas Day we all go to Christchurch and spend a few days of relaxed quality time with the extended family on both sides. We then head up to the Coromandel for a couple of blissful weeks at the beach with friends. (Andrea)

YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS RITUAL: Passing out the Santa hats, playing Christmas carols and decorating the tree. Now the children are adults I really have to do some major persuading to make that happen. (Andrea)


FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE HOUSE: The all-day sun and light-filled spaces, such a contrast from when we first bought it. (David)

MY DECORATING STYLE IS: Quite simple, with lots of favourite bits and pieces collected over the years. I like a neutral base that I can add colour to with furniture, cushions, rugs and art. After 15 years of working behind the scenes at Small Acorns I can’t help but be influenced by their style and love of colour. I am very happy when I have lots of fresh flowers around – especially when they’re from our garden. (Andrea)

Andrea and David McGuire

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