Decoratively speaking, Loretta Sloan has shown incredible restraint throughout her gorgeous new home. The seven-time World of WearableArt (WOW) finalist has instead opted for subtle shades throughout, adding dramatic effects with art and accessories.

Loretta, husband Phil, children Fleur and Oliver, and Waka the dog moved in earlier this year. At the same time Loretta was working around the clock to complete her entry for WOW so it’s no wonder it’s taking some time to add the finishing touches. “I only found out in late July that this year’s entry had been accepted as a finalist – one of only three from Canterbury. It’s been pretty crazy!”

No stranger to a blank canvas, Loretta is now focussing on completing her home for summer. As she walks me through the house, she lists what is still to be done. The landscaping will be a priority, decks are still to be added, and her precious art placed.  “I have so much in storage, but I want to place as much as I can without overdoing it. I may have to leave some out, which will be hard,” she smiles.

Built in Linear Weatherboard, the home has the classic charm of a traditional kiwi abode with a crisp, contemporary appeal.  The sprawling four-bedroom home has multiple purposes, incorporating an office for managing the couple’s business and general home use, and a dedicated studio for Loretta, which she’s very happy about. “I used to have to work in the garage at our previous home, so it’s a real luxury to have my own studio,” she says. A super-sized laundry alongside the studio also doubles as a wet room for Loretta when she’s creating.

Loretta has opted for dramatic shades of Dulux Okarito and Rawene throughout the home, with dark grey curtains, feature wallpapers and lighting. “It doesn’t quite feel like home because my art is still to be hung, but I don’t want the house to look too busy, so that will be my challenge – to add colour and interest with art and accessories without going crazy.”

Greeting visitors in the entranceway is a blue and white mosaic mannequin by local artist Averil Southward. Loretta loves the fact that it is created from broken china, much of it rescued post- earthquake. She’s also very taken with the attention to detail – the careful placement of pieces on delicate curves and body parts.

Light floods the house, with a multitude of windows, and enormous bi-folding doors opening the entire home up to outdoor living. The rustic dining table opens out to accommodate 16 people, and with the doors wide open, it’s as good as being outside.

The kitchen is one of Loretta’s favourite places. “I always knew what I wanted, and it’s perfect,” she says. The striking black tile splashback and kickboard, melamine cabinetry and flooring all blend perfectly, flowing through into the butler’s pantry.  The eye-catching Perrin & Rowe tap with its kinky spout is a hit with everyone. “Once I saw that tap, I just had to have it, and then of course I had to continue it through the rest of the bathrooms.”

Everything is designed to be easy. Instant filtered hot water means there’s always a cup of tea or coffee brewing and then we move on to the fridge. Loretta grins. “I haven’t got to grips with everything I can do with this yet, but I’m getting there.”  From the fridge she can play all her music, control the sound, dial up a menu, meal planner or recipe, and if she’s in the supermarket she can tap an app on her phone and connect to the fridge, then take a quick snapshot of what’s inside so she knows what to stock up on. She can even watch the rugby on it!  A lot more than a fridge!

The melamine continues into the office, living, dining and lounge where built-in shelving and furniture make the sizeable rooms feel even roomier. An eye-catching feature wall of man-made schist accommodates a double-sided gas fire. “We’re not wood choppers. When we get home at the end of the day we just want to relax, and the gas provides instant warmth. With two additional heat pumps, the whole house is always cosy.”

Other favourite features include the elegant pedestal washstand in the toilet, and the deep freestanding bath in the family bathroom, both displaying more of the Perrin & Rowe tapware. 

A genius at making things from the unexpected, and creating something sensational, Loretta is planning something special for the feature walls in the entranceway and the master bedroom – perhaps some favourite pictures or photos blown up to fill the space.  

“This is a really comfortable home. People often come in and go ‘Oh, wow.’ It might look creative, but Phil and I, and the kids are all really comfortable here. We’ve all created it and we love what we’ve achieved.”

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.