The owner of high-end furnishings retailer Cavit & Co has been leading a split existence since opening a small showroom in Arrowtown four years ago. Three weeks of every month she is running the business in Auckland, where she owns an elegant Parnell villa …
On the fourth week she is in Arrowtown, where two years ago she bought a place on the shore of Lake Hayes – a tiny 140-year-old schist cottage, which locals say was originally a stable and never lived in until a significant addition in the 1970s.
Across the lake is Coronet Peak. “It’s so beautiful in winter, when they are making snow in the evenings and the lights on the snow guns light up the mountain,” says Debbie.
“It looks like a mountain village up there, and the lights reflect off the lake.”
She usually comes here to work, of course, but “it’s incredibly relaxing. The house is from that period in the late 1970s when life wasn’t as intense as it is now, so when I come down here the simplicity brings a sense of calm. The day to day pressure is considerably less than in Auckland and the cottage gives me space and time to think more creatively.”
In revamping the Arrowtown house she has played to that theme of dialled-back living. First to go upstairs was the 1979 colour scheme, which included bright red, lime green and navy blue in the three bedrooms, with matching drapery and light fixtures. Downstairs, where the schist walls of the old cottage (they’re at least 45cm thick) are seamlessly incorporated into the 70s addition, she mostly left things untouched, other than replacing a few rustic light fittings and repainting the kitchen.
All the furniture and new light fittings came from Cavit & Co and Debbie chose textiles from designers she represents, including Ralph Lauren, William Yeoward and Barbara Barry. Belying Cavit & Co’s reputation as a purveyor of sleek formality, the feel here is of casual comfort, from the bleached teak dining table to a rattan chest of drawers.
The contrast with her Parnell villa is striking. Debbie has also found in her interior design work for local clients that Central Otago conditions dictate a different approach. “The climate influences the architecture and the style of furnishings we use down here. The same brands run through both our locations, but with quite different stylings. We use bronze, steel and oak a lot more, and a different selection of textiles and colours. Because the sky is so incredibly blue and so expansive, it changes the tone of the colours we use.”
- NZ H&G Magazine, December 2014 - Matt Philp
Alteration in 1979, Refurbishment in 2014
Jane Usher, NZ H&G Magazine