Interiorssneak peeks

An Artist’s New Zealand Home Brimming with Bold Pattern

by Rebekah Carey

Evie Kemp and Sam Holford’s home in Auckland, New Zealand is an immersive experience, where patterns drip from every surface, bold colors pull you in, and there’s always something magical to discover around a corner or nestled into a gallery wall. It is truly a feast for the eyes. Evie is a freelance artist, textile designer, and stylist (can you tell?) and her husband is an OBGYN and heavily involved with the New Zealand Doctor’s Union. Together they’ve created a home that we feel safe to say we could easily walk around in — slack-jawed — for hours, taking in all of the incredible art, treasures, patterns, and various collections. We’d likely have to do a few laps to make sure we didn’t miss any special details.

Evie admits that their home is never “done,” that she’s often swapping things out, trying new colors, and adding in her latest thrift shop find. There’s also a sense from the observer that it’s somehow always been this way. With so many details and layers, it’s hard to imagine the home not looking just like this; it both has a feeling of being so intentional that it would take infinite time to get to this point, and it’s also so natural and welcoming that we can imagine Evie creating this look effortlessly.

With Evie working from home, it makes sense that the space is a reflection of her work, with styling props integrated into the decor and collections, her original art displayed proudly, things changing as her inspirations does, all the while being mindful of budget and resources. So much of their home is made up from thrifted finds, and repurposed or recovered vintage pieces.

While the house itself may initially look like it’s mid-century design with the sunken living room, shoji screens, and ceilings, it was actually built in 1984 by a builder/designer for himself. The original homeowner sold the house to them and was only moving to be closer to family for his health.

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The couple hadn’t initially been looking at South Auckland, but this house fully enchanted them and once they moved in, their neighborhood had an equal effect. “Auckland is a widespread and multi-cultural city, but for many, sadly, South Auckland still has a bad rap,” Evie shares. “Moving here, we’ve completely fallen in love with it; to me it’s the most vibrant and welcoming part of Auckland and I’m really proud to be a part of it. I’ve met so many great people here and it really feels like a community that looks after each other.” Someday Evie would love to be a part of a local eatery or cafe to help extend Auckland’s “foodie scene” out south — can’t you imagine eating somewhere that has that Evie touch? Sign us up! Rebekah 

Photography by Becks Silke from Little White Lies 

Image above: “The cushions on the bed are forever changing but currently they’re mostly lucky charity shop finds, and I made the cover of the leopard print one, because… leopard print,” Evie jokes.  

Evie And Sam In Their Bold New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

The Kemp/Holford family. Amazingly, Sam and Evie were high school sweethearts! Evie jokes that they’re complete opposites and that Sam would likely be living a minimalist life if it weren’t for her. “Me, my husband Sam, Italian greyhound Biggie, Pebbles the pomchi, and (not pictured here) Eddie the cat.”

A Bold And Beautiful Master Bedroom On Design*Sponge

“The hanging ceramic lamps are retro, as is the rosewood headboard. The blue velvet duvet is from Kip & Co,” Evie explains. “The bedroom itself is fairly small so the wallpaper packs a big punch.”

A Pattern-Filled Bedroom In New Zealand Home Tour On Design*Sponge

Evie’s work is featured throughout her home and is beautifully integrated with her bold and pattern-filled style. “The artworks above the bed are by me and set the tone for the room. I treat the wallpaper as a bit of a ‘neutral’ and change the look with bedding and artwork. Right now the color palette is very bright!”

A Sunroom Adjoins The Master Bedroom In This Auckland Home On Design*Sponge

While it’s hard to imagine this home as anything other than a perfect reflection of Evie’s style, she tells us what used to be in the room adjoining their bedroom: “The sunroom connects to the bedroom with sliding shoji screens. Originally this room housed a hot tub!”

A Pattern-Filled Sunroom In New Zealand Full Tour On Design*Sponge

The sunroom also has room for storing some of Evie’s collections, “The little alcove houses some of my vintage coffee set collection. I love pieces by Poole and Susie Cooper.”

The Palm Wallpaper From The Bedroom Continues Into The Adjoining Sunroom Of This Home On Design*Sponge

Incredible vintage gems can be found around every corner of Evie and Sam’s home. “The wallpaper in the sunroom connects the room to the garden outside. The small daybed is a vintage find that was intended for restoration but I kind of love it in its shabby, pea green state!”

A Family Piece Has Become A Staple In Evie Kemp's New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“The leopard print chair is an old family piece, my Grandma made the covers for my mum and I eventually persuaded her to part with it,” Evie admits. “It’s seen better days but this chair is so special to me, and is Biggie the dog’s favorite sun spot.”

A Vintage Family Chair Becomes A Chic Resting Place For Their Pup Home Tour On Design*Sponge

Clearly Biggie is a fan.

A Double Sided Fireplace In The Lounge Of This New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

Evie explains the unique style of their house a little more, “The dividing wall houses a two-sided ethanol fireplace and separates the dining room from the sunken lounge. It currently displays some of my ‘swept under the rug‘ textile pieces.”

A Colorful Corner Of The Lounge Area In This New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“The corner of the sunken lounge was the perfect place for the David Shrigley ‘Large Fancy Room’ tea towel. I couldn’t resist the oversized badminton racquet from a secondhand shop, and the chair was my first ‘real’ mid-century furniture buy.”

A Budget-Savvy Alternative To A Print In This New Zealand Home Tour On Design*Sponge

We love Evie’s clever idea to frame tea towels as art like this David Shrigley one.

One Of Evie Kemp's Wonderful Collections In Her New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“I collect various styles of ceramics, some are stored away for styling jobs but I try and keep them on constant rotation to change them up,” Evie explains. “They’re almost all picked up in charity shops for a few dollars each.”

A Hand Painted Mural In This Incredible New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“The large 70s sofa was a lucky $100 find that Sam recovered in orange leopard print for my Christmas present. The sunken lounge is the only place it fits! I then designed the Bowie artwork and wall mural to work with it. The rug was from a liquidation auction and the metal shark I found at Camberwell Market in Melbourne and brought back with me.”

A Welcoming Scene In This New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“I love how the large ‘Pop!’ prints welcome guests, I feel like it sets the tone for the whole house,” Evie explains.

Art And Amazing Vintage Finds Fills The Walls In This New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“Art and objects fill the hallway [wherever] they’ll fit.”

A Pink Hallway The Runs The Length Of This Inspiring New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“The pink hallway runs down the house, it has a lovely warm glow at night that you can see from outside,” Evie tells us.

A Round Room With Curved Couch And Gallery Wall On Design*Sponge

One of the fabulously unique elements of Sam and Evie’s home is their movie room, “The small round, brick ‘turret’ was originally designed as a study but now has a TV for gaming and movies. We already had the curved velvet sofa before we bought the house with the round room. Getting it in was such a mission, it will never leave this room! Growing up we always had a ‘snug’– a small cozy room for hanging out, which is what this is.”

A Three Dimensional Gallery Wall In This Colorful New Zealand Home Tour On Design*Sponge

“These clever shelves by local creative ‘Formantics’ are a favorite for including objects in a gallery wall. The orange juice was a gift from my sister,” Evie explains.

Even The Hallway In This New Zealand Home Is Colorful And Playful Tour On Design*Sponge

Biggie the dog’s doppelgänger sits in their colorful hallway.

A Moody Guest Room In This New Zealand Home Tour On Design*Sponge

“It seems to be the NZ style to have small bedrooms, so for the guest room I worked with it to create a dark, cozy cave with dark, muddy green walls and velvet curtains,” Evie shares. “The guest room is home to a lot of my older art pieces, many of which feature dogs (of course). The cushion pile is ever-changing on the guest bed, but in a dark room texture is so important.”

Vintage Meets Function In This New Zealand Tour On Design*Sponge

The kitchen continues Evie’s fabulous style. “We were incredibly lucky that the kitchen had been recently redone before we bought the house. The ‘Milk Bar’ sign was a birthday present from ‘Junk & Disorderly’ in Auckland.”

Even The Kitchen Is Home To The Homeowners Various Wonderful Collections Full Tour On Design*Sponge

“The kitchen features ever-changing mini displays of objects. I use the workbench a lot more for creative projects than actual cooking. I like to keep my collection of fun little objects above the coffee machine where they can be regularly admired,” Evie notes. “The model shop came from a huge model railway that was being destroyed. I’ve put a lamp inside it so it lights up at night. It’s so recognizably old New Zealand.”

Art Covers All The Walls In This New Zealand Home Including The Kitchen Full Tour On Design*Sponge

“I’m a huge fan of pop art and the kitchen is definitely an homage to that.”

Too Many Vintage Treasures To Count In This New Zealand Home Tour On Design*Sponge

“The living room is a bit of an awkward space as it connects the hallway, kitchen, laundry and lounge/dining, but it’s very much the heart of the home,” Evie explains. “Two things are constant, dogs and leopard print — I never tire of either. In winter we light the woodburner most days but in summer I add lamps, candles and plants to keep it looking warm and inviting. It’s an ugly thing but it does a great job! I’m often teased for just how many cushions I own but I love them and you’re absolutely allowed to kick them off the sofa if needed.”

Vintage Filled Colorful Living Room In New Zealand On Design*Sponge

Evie shares her lighting ethos, “We have a lot of lamps, I believe lamps are essential in making a cozy home and will only use the overhead lights if I really need to for a practical reason. I found the vintage Hans Christian Andersen poster for five dollars at a church fair when I was about 20; it’s still one of my very favorite pieces. In winter we mostly keep the shoji screens closed for warmth and coziness! “

A Pink Dining Room In New Zealand On Design*Sponge

“I found the pink velvet dining suite at Auckland’s secondhand mecca ‘Junk & Disorderly.’ I like to think it had a previous life in a Yum Cha restaurant or casino.”

The Fun Colors Continue In Evie Kemp's Dining Room On Design*Sponge

“The dining room opens up on to the back and deck and garden, so I like to have a comfy chair there to sit and look out,” Evie explains.

A Vintage Neon Sign Welcoming You To The Dining Room In This New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

Another piece that Evie added to her collection that felt meant to be: “I had seen the secondhand neon sign in the window of a secondhand store and fell in love with it, but assumed it was part of their signage. I walked past the same shop months later and it was no longer in the window, so on a whim I went in and there it was tucked in a box behind some old frames. It turned out to be just as much money as I had in my bank account on that day (not much!) and so it came home with me. I love it SO much.”

An Amazing Vintage Chair Gets An Equally Impressive Reupholstery Job Tour On Design*Sponge

One of Evie’s pieces is displayed in their dining room; “The large Still Life print is a newer piece by me, I create fantasy still lives from vintage and antique objects and fabrics I desire but don’t own, and create a drawing of that. They combine my passion for collecting, ceramics, textiles and color.”

A Built-In Bookshelf Displays Evie's Amazing Collections In Her New Zealand Home On Design*Sponge

“On the dining room side of the dividing wall there is a built-in bookcase, I reconfigured the shelves a bit to fit artwork in. The ball chair was another thrifted find but had seen better days so we recovered it ourselves in broccoli fabric from IKEA. The Lichtenstein poster is from our first visit to the Guggenheim in NYC and the first joint art we bought together,” Evie shares.

Evie Kemp What I Love About Our Home

“The thing I love most about our home is the supportive, caring, vibrant multi-cultural community we live in!” –Evie Kemp

Unique New Zealand Home House Plan On Design*Sponge

Evie and Sam’s house plan. Their flat and accessible roof has also provided one of their favorite moments in the home yet. “On Fireworks night we climb on the roof with hot chocolates and watch fireworks all over the neighborhood.”


Paint color- “Cashel Street” by Dulux
Pop! prints- Playtype
Ostrich Lamp- Abigail Ahern for Debenhams
Pink dog painting- John Bond
Resin Budgies- Pete Cromer
“Women Artists” tea towel- Guerrilla Girls for Third Drawer Down
Cat lampshade and fabric- Evie
All furniture and rugs- vintage

Bowie artwork, leopard print cushions, lampshades and artwork on sideboard- Evie
All the furniture- vintage
The round “Stockholm” mirror- IKEA
Mini vagina rugs on fireplace- Evie
“Large Fancy Room Filled With Crap” framed tea towel- David Shrigley from Third Drawer Down

Dining Room
All furniture- vintage
Neon light- vintage
Ball chair- reupholstered in IKEA fabric
Floral Curtain and lampshade fabric- “Baroness” by Lisa Bengtsson
Brass lamp from New Zealand Kmart
Black and white rug- The Warehouse NZ
Abstract painting by dining table- Bronwyn Mason
Pink Shark- Taus Ceramic
Still Life 3 limited edition print in A0 size- Evie
Bunny lampshade- Evie Kemp fabric, lampshades recovered by Evie

Wall Color- “Piha” by Dulu
Baboon lamp- Abigail Ahern for Debenhams
“Too Damn Nice” tea towel- Rachel Castle
“No sugar thanks” print- Mt Atkinson
“A-OK” print- Toby Morris
Neon Light Stick- Seletti
Lightning bolt and rainbow mirrors- Bride & Wolfe
Apex Shelves- Tim Webber
Everything else- vintage and thrifted

Living Room (connected to kitchen with large round ottoman)
Wall Color- “Piha” by Dulux
Furniture all thrifted- sofa recovered in James Dunlop fabrics “Stampede
Rectangular rug- Citta
Cushions by Citta and Shut The Front Door
Everything else- thrifted including artwork except fireplace bug prints by Evie

Master Bedroom and Sunroom
Wallpaper- Rasch (discontinued)
All furniture- vintage
Beige & Black rug- Citta
Yellow rug under bed- Patricia Urquiola
Blue duvet by Kip & Co
Bedroom artworks- Evie
Bedside lamps- vintage
Green rug- vintage
Cushions- made and found in thrift shops

Guest Bedroom 
Wall Color- “Punga Cove” by Dulux
Yellow pillow cases and linen duvet from Farmers
Bedside tables and flower cushions from Bed, Bath & Beyond NZ
Art- vintage, the flamingo prints are by Vernon Ward
Lights and headboard- thrifted.

Movie room (round room)
Furniture- vintage
Little round shelf- Formantics
Doggo Club print- Lea Maupetit
Dog Portrait- Hello Harriet
Girl with bird- Sandra Eterovic
‘Unframed’ poster- MK Press
Druid sculpture- Pete Cromer
Various postcards- David Shrigley and Anna Hoyle
Round rug, banana, and cockatiel print- Evie

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