Make that Funky Retro, White Girl

by Insiders Dunedin

The problem with all these DIY shows on the tele at the moment is that they set you up with unrealistic expectations. Watch enough fit young couples renovate entire rooms in the space of an hour and you start to think it’s a doddle. Before you even realise it, your inner monologue is going something like: ‘That old drinks cabinet of Nanas? I’ll paint it purple, whack on some new knobs and Bob’s your Aunty Mildred.’ But NO. Stop. This way lies madness, and ugly furniture. Put down that paint brush, because it’s much, much harder than it looks. I know, because I tried some DIY-ing and the result looked like art therapy for the criminally insane.

Let someone with talent do it. Make sure that someone is called Sue Williams, who, with Paul Hopkins, is behind Made and Found at 68 Highgate, a building that’s been made over itself many times and is easy to find. Sue started off doing house renovations when she first moved to Dunedin from Queenstown. Buying and doing up houses was flexible job, hours-wise, for a single mum, so she did 5 houses in a row, one a year: “and then I was completely burnt out.” Post houses, “I was making cushions,” says Sue, “there was no money in it. I did one piece of furniture and it sold. Another sold. They just kept selling.” The rest, as they say, is history. History revisited, and given a light sand. Specialising in funky retro with a modern twist and simple, uncluttered, clean lines, Sue and Paul take a trip to the tip, the second hand shop, to find super-gorgeous pieces that are tired but still strong, ready to go another 100 years after some care and attention. The surfaces might be knackered, the varnish yellowed; stripping it back they find out what’s underneath, go back to basics. Something people are doing a lot these days, with interior trends for organics, natural and raw fabrics, wood. Macramé is massive right now, popping up in wall hangings and plant hangers, so too are feathers, a splash of metallic, touches of pink.

“We’re always trying really hard to keep it fresh,” says Sue, “always bringing in new stock to compliment recycled old.” It’s a great blend, and a great partnership. “I’m the art and Paul’s the science. I know what I want to do, but some of my ideas defy gravity and I need to be brought back down to earth.” Or does she? With all this Jetsons-style mid-century cool being made (and found), I’d say let her blast off.

Post submitted by Lisa Scott


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