‘House & Garden’ tours sell out

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A massive weekend is approaching rapidly for a handful of North Otago homeowners.

They are opening their dwellings to the hordes of people who snapped up tickets to NZ House & Garden tours next Friday and Saturday.

The glossy magazine organises tours of homes in different parts of the country each year to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

The North Otago option sold out in a flash, then a second tour that was added to cater for demand also sold out.

The main attraction was Dot and Neil Smith’s Riverstone castle, so a third tour of just that landmark was made available on the Sunday. Unsurprisingly, it has been a sellout too.

Riverstone is now offering its own escorted castle tours for those who missed out.

Meanwhile, the other homeowners involved in the NZ House & Garden tours are ensuring everything is ready for the onrush of visitors.

One such couple are Sally-Ann and Kevin Donnelly. They have moved into the 1970s house built for Oamaru businessman Bevan Crombie in Avon St, overlooking the harbour.

They have largely retained the distinctive appearance of the house indoors and out, bringing it up to date with their own twists.

Mrs Donnelly said the impending tours were a great incentive to get everything completed, although she confessed it was a “nightmare” meeting the tight deadline.

“It’s given us a push to get it done. It’s a great cause. That’s why we’re doing it.”

The dark brown exterior that was so prevalent in the 1970s has been painted black and the front door stands out in a sharp orange.

The kitchen opening off the front deck has been remodelled, the wallpaper picking up the orange accent in a subtle pattern.


Subtlety has gone out the window in the informal living room to the west. Mrs Donnelly said they chose the bold orange wallpaper because it suited the house and appealed to their taste.

“I like weird things.”

The original ornately patterned wallpapers in the hall and main lounge – different colourways of the same design – had been kept. Offset by the thick pale carpet, they provide a great backdrop for the Donnellys’ collection of Mary Horn paintings and luxurious leather upholstery.

Black and white . . . Monochrome decorative elements feature throughout the house. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

The dining room on a raised platform off the lounge features a sumptuous new light fitting, while David Trubridge shades are used liberally elsewhere.

Door and window frames that were ’70s brown have become 21st century black.

Looking out to sea . . . The Donnellys’ house sits above Avon St with a view over the Oamaru Harbour. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

The final part of the downstairs area to be completed is a vast billiards room with a full-sized table complete with low-hanging lights. Another striking wallpaper lines one side of the space, and a strong blue hue creates a den vibe.

Mrs Donnelly said they were not opening their upstairs bedroom area to the public.

The owners of all houses on the tour can visit the others while representatives from the magazine are on duty at their place.