Project Sheet: Labour of Love

 This high-end bachelor pad awash with light and personality is the perfect stage for pairing art with design. Erin Irwin writes. 

Working with large, open plan spaces is a test of an interior designer’s skill and ingenuity, and in the case of the Newton apartment, this was the task of interior designer Janice Kumar-Ward who fulfilled it with aplomb. By creating character-filled moments throughout the space, the once barren bachelor pad loft apartment was transformed into a gallery-like space saturated with light and pops of colour. 

The brief for the project left plenty of room for Janice to get creative: an existing collection of art needed new acquisitions to fill out the space; and an ensemble of new furniture was required, with the specification that it needed to be indulgently comfortable. Janice maintains a preference for collectable, art-like furniture procured from trustworthy sources including Babelogue, Mid Century Swag, Mr Bigglesworthy and Karakter, all in Auckland. Given the client’s preferences for vintage pieces, this was a match made in heaven. 

A pair of Carter Bros Ltd mid century armchairs afford a quiet welcome for visitors to the loft, which are paired impeccably with the soft natural tones of an eclectic arrangement of paintings above. By using whites and neutrals for most of the walls and flooring, Janice ensured that each component of the design became its own focal point. The delicate nature of the abstract pieces would be lost in a more colourful setting, but here they command attention. 

Janice did not maintain white walls throughout, however. In the master bedroom, an accent wall behind the bedhead uses wallpaper inspired by vintage etchings to add a touch of drama without overcharging a space designed for rest and relaxation. Additionally, in the main living space Janice embraced a serendipitous find, previously hidden behind renovations and unleashed with great effect. “[The mural] had been jibbed over, we had it refurbished and paired it with stunning architectural ladder back chairs,” says Janice. 

The mural, created by street artists Elliot Francis Stewart and Tom McMillan was one of the main starting points for the rest of the design, ingeniously incorporating Janice’s overall design with the earthy colours and flowing lines of the piece breathing energy into the space. Janice was overjoyed to incorporate art that has site specificity into the project, and the vitality of the mural fits perfectly with her ideas concerning the incorporation of art into interior design. 

“Art is meant to provoke your thoughts and evoke something within you,” she says. “Every time you look at it it has to mean something to the client or the place in which it is situated.” The mural is the epitome of this, and Janice worked to ensure the rest of the interior harmonised with the home’s defining piece. 

The deep yellows of the mural are picked out by the mustard-coloured dining chairs, which were bespoke for the space by Janice’s design firm JKW. These in turn participate in a vibrant discourse with the vintage posters beside them. Prints and posters are used to great effect throughout, their high-octane hues often drawing together different parts of the space. 

Above an area designed to work as an office space, brightly coloured prints advertise oranges and other tasty treats, making the transition from office to kitchen seamless. 

The kitchen itself is ideal for entertaining. A symphony of concrete and chrome, the dark colours of the cupboards and backsplash make it a focal point of the room. 

But the true hero of the space is the sofa, a luscious piece by local designer Simon James decked out in a deep sea green sourced from Warwick Fabrics. Deep and visibly comfortable, it ensures the entire space is bright and inviting. 

This project was a labour of love for Janice, which is fitting given the established friendship between her and her client. Indeed, many aspects of the project were enabled by friendship: many of the works dotted around the space were produced by their mutual long-time friend Mandy McIntosh, and even the art hanger knew Janice from their days at university. Perhaps this is why the space is so bright and inviting, with each corner and each design moment rendered to a high finish, imbuing the space with style and grace. The end result is a perfect high-end bachelor pad, awash with light and filled to the brim with colour and personality without skimping on comfort. 

Featured image: Artwork on wall from left: a painting by Teri Parat; two works by Mandy McIntosh; and a cut paper work by CUT WORKS. Chairs by Carter Bros Ltd. Courtesy: JKW Interior Architecture and Design, Auckland. Photos: Michelle Weir.