Fri, Jun 23, 2023 3:17 PM

My Home


Tessa Jaine

The Savage family home is an eclectic mix of old and new, with colour, art and plants adding to its character. Karen Savage shares how their home in Witherlea came to be.

Photos: Richard Briggs

Where is your home and how long have you lived here?

We live in Witherlea, we moved to Blenheim in 2008 and liked the idea of the Wither Hills Farm Park being close. We moved into our house in February 2010.

Karen with her son Oscar who has returned home to Blenheim to work after studying at Lincoln University.

What do you love about the neighbourhood where you live?

We built close to the farm park for the walking, running and cycling tracks, we are both up there a few times a week. We love the landscape of the Wither Hills, it’s such an asset for Blenheim. The Taylor River is so close also, biking to work is easy, no traffic to contend with.
We have the best neighbours, they are happy to look after our house when we are away, popping over to water the garden, and keeping an eye on things. They also share extra produce which is very much appreciated. Knowing your neighbours is important, having special neighbours is a real bonus, something I cherish.

What inspired the design of your home?

After searching for a home for the family with no luck we decided to build. When the section purchase was complete, we decided I would design the house. We had had a few houses and knew after coming from Southland, we wanted to build for the sun. We also both liked something slightly different.
I used one of the children’s unused maths books and got to work. Once I had the section size and shape mapped out, many hours went into designing. I had help from my brothers who are builders in Queenstown along the way, their suggestion was to keep the design simple, so the interior was made up of three main rectangles with the main bedroom and garage off the back.


What four words would you use to describe your home?

Two words only - living centric.

What’s your decorating style?

A mixed style - we have older pieces of furniture with new, but not super modern. If I can’t find furniture I like or at a price I like, I might cover or renovate an older piece. My daughter got me into plants, so I have lots of greenery around which softens any room. Some are cuttings from her and some we have splurged a little, and my art is also scattered everywhere.

What piece would you never part with?

Our most cherished piece of furniture would be the oak sideboard my husband’s parents had handmade for us by Ivan Bulling furniture in Invercargill for a wedding present. We designed it, so that is very special, again it’s very simple, a very classic piece. My daughter would most likely suggest our Rimu dining room table as we have shared many happy family times around it and tells me we can never replace it. The table is dated, not enough to be a feature, but we like it, so it stays.


Have you done any renovations?

Our house is around 13 years old now, so we have had to replace a few items and re-paint the outside. We carpeted the garage and added storage and some gym equipment. We designed a small art house to match the house, I am totally in love with it, space to do whatever I want and leave a mess if I like. It’s one of my very happy places.

What’s your favourite room?

Definitely our front room, which includes the kitchen, dining and main lounge. We have a lovely David Trubridge light shade over the dining table. A lot of great family time has been had in this room. Very large windows and lovely sunset views over to the Richmond ranges are also a plus.

If money was no object what would you get for your home?

Solar electricity would be something we would love to have for the future. The deck would be great if covered and shelter from the easterly added too. I would love a scullery, I could not fit into the space in the original design. I have now an idea how I could fit one in with a few small changes. But after all they are just luxury items and we can dream.

What should every home have?

Apart from lots of love, a dining room table so the family can share a least one meal together every day to share stories and solve problems.


Best budget tip?

Learn to sew, it’s amazing what you can create with a sewing machine and the money that can be saved. You can achieve a lot of lovely furnishings to decorate your home. I learned a lot from my beautiful mother, she always said there is no such word as can’t.

Best money spent?

Building the house was money well spent. Achieving a design to be proud of and easy to live in. The designing of it was no cost to us and by getting a draught person to do the plans for the council we saved also. We managed the building ourselves and monitored the costs. Installing a hot water heat pump has been a great saving over the years, we would recommend this to any family, building or renovating.


Do you have any tips on how to keep your living area orderly?

Orderly is not really my thing, homely is! One tip would be when the children were younger I had a large colourful bin for each of them in the living room. I would just pile their belongings left behind into their bin and ask them to pop them back in their bedrooms, kept me happy, stopped the nagging and seemed to work well for them too.

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