At the cross roads of two busy streets in Christchurch sits an old building with a very unique story. This category 1 heritage building began life as a convent for the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Name. Over the years it has served the Christchurch community in many ways, even playing host to Nurse Maude’s original dispensary! As luck would have it, the tradition of charity and service continues with its new owners – the Home & Family charity.
Having lost their original premises during the Christchurch earthquakes, Home & Family needed a new space for their head office and counselling services. In 2014, thanks to the incredible generosity of the Sisters and Trustees to the Community of the Sacred Name (CSN), this historic building became theirs. Val, from Home & Family tells us, ‘we will be forever grateful to the CSN for giving us the opportunity to restore and repurpose this beautiful heritage treasure. This is the first time that Home & Family has had its own ‘home’ and the social purpose and history of both agencies are so closely aligned that it feels like a perfect match!’
When Home & Family took ownership of the building it was derelict and freezing but Home & Family had a vision. The building had great bones, fantastic heritage features and whole lot of character. With a determination to return the building to its former glory, Home & Family set out on an ambitious renovation of the building. New carpet was laid, the building was given a fresh coat of paint and new curtain and blinds were installed.
Due to its heritage status some parts of the building could not be touched. This included the original unpainted wood panelling – scratches and all. Rather than being a negative, these imperfections give the interior a sense of personality and allude to its long and unique history.
For their curtains and blinds, Home & Family enlisted the help of McKenzie & Willis after working on other projects together. This was a no brainer for Val who enjoyed working with McKenzie & Willis and emphasised that it was important that they “honoured the history of the building by choosing good quality work and classics fabrics.”
Stephanie Stevens (McKenzie & Willis Christchurch Design Services Manager) and Julie Smith (McKenzie & Willis Interior Designer) worked closely with the Home & Family team on a brief to create a timeless aesthetic. And without a doubt that’s what they achieved.
Morris & Co Pimpernel was the fabric of choice for the curtains in the downstairs function room. The warm red and contrasting green works in perfectly with the wood panelling in the room and picks up the colours of the stained glass windows in the adjacent chapel. Stephanie notes, “it was important to us that the fabric of choice didn’t distract from, but only enhanced, the original features of this building’s understated beauty.”
Upstairs, William Morris continues to feature heavily with the ‘Love is Enough’ print from Morris & Co on each of the blinds in the counselling rooms. The green colourway was chosen for the unpainted rooms and blue for the painted rooms. Stephanie recalls, “the message this fabric depicts was only too perfect for the use of these counselling spaces. It struck a chord with Val and also tied in beautifully with the timeless design of its surrounds.” A special blind at the end of the hallway also features the popular Strawberry thief fabric from Morris & Co.
As for their brand new kitchen, Home & Family opted for Luxaflex sunscreen blinds in La Vista, white grey. This not only gave the kitchen a tidy and uncluttered look but meant that they could control the amount of light. Instead of glaring morning sun, the space is bathed in soft filtered light when the blinds are down.
It’s easy to see how all of these interior touches give the building a special feeling. From the team at McKenzie & Willis we hope that it provides a classic, yet welcoming backdrop for all the extraordinary work done by Home & Family. As always, it’s an honour to support our local communities and charities. If you would like to find out more about the Home & Family charity and ways you can get involved please click here.
Need help to create your own interior design dreams? At McKenzie & Willis we offer in home consultations with our highly experienced interior design team. We aim to make the process fun, rewarding and most importantly easy. We’ll come to your home, do a free measure & quote and work with you to develop the perfect furnishing scheme. If you’re in the early stages of building we can even work off plans.
For everything interiors visit our consultants in store or book an in-home consultation online here.
Photo credit: Kate Claridge Photography.