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This DIY expert shares her tips for a colourful, laidback Christmas

Settling into her Eastbourne house, Your Home and Garden DIY queen Nikki Kettle shares her mantra for a stress-free festive season

Harper and Jude decorated the tree this year, with most ornaments from Farmers or Nikki’s nana. A train from Spotlight runs underneath the festive scene.

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Meet & Greet: Nikki Kettle (builder and Your Home and Garden columnist), Tom Taylor (builder) and their children, Jude, five, and Harper, three.

The Property: A 1920s four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Eastbourne, Wellington.

Everyone knew that Your Home and Garden’s DIY expert Nikki Kettle’s house would be amazing. Nevertheless, you’d forgive us for still being a little awestruck at the sight of her coastal Eastbourne home. The bright and breezy home, an ever-ongoing project between builders Nikki and Tom, has been decked out in full festive fashion. There are nutcrackers, both big and small, with wreaths of dried oranges and tabletop treats. It’s a lesson in laissez-faire decorating, with the busy parents happy to be guided by the family’s true Christmas experts, children Jude and Harper.

The recycled rimu table and chairs are Facebook Marketplace finds. The table runner is from Spotlight, paired with speckled Kmart tealight holders, which the family uses as glassware.

What’s one of your favourite Christmas traditions?
We always go camping at Christmas and I always make my famous Christmas trifle in a ClickClack container. Fancy.

Where are some of your favourite places to shop for Christmas decorations?
Farmers. I get the kids a new special one each year. They do really different stuff and the kids have everything from a glittery Vespa to a glass octopus.

The floral arrangement on the table and the wreath on the front door (right) were gifted by @scintilla.nz, a florist friend of Nikki’s.

We’re head-over-heels in love with all the incredible bedheads. Can you talk us through them?
The bedhead in the main bedroom is actually the one we did as one of my first DIYs with Your Home and Garden. It was made from a large piece of MDF that we put wadding on and covered. I pulled the covering off, sketched out the new shape, cut it with a jigsaw, and then recovered it. I couldn’t find a vintage-looking piece of fabric, so this is $9 cotton from Spotlight, which I soaked in a bucket of tea [to dye it]. Jude’s bed is a Mocka frame and bedhead that we had been given a week or so ago — I recovered it about 10 minutes before the photoshoot. Harper’s is three pieces of MDF cut into arches and covered with Spotlight fabric.

How would you describe your design style?
I really don’t know. Eclectic? Moody modern? I saw Your Home and Garden use “Gothic glam” the other day, which I thought fitted the bedroom pretty well. I just like the style to reflect the era of the house, I hate when I see a super modernised villa or a house full of “calming neutrals”. Try to tell me that my blue bedroom isn’t super cosy and calming. I think your house should bring you joy so maybe my style is joyful.

Resene Olive Green was used to freshen up kitchen cabinetry.

What’s been your proudest DIY moment in your home?
We have only been in this house a few months, but I think my proudest DIY moment will be the upstairs bathroom when it’s completed because I have something really special planned. Right now, it’s probably adding a back wall of cabinets to the kitchen. When we moved in there was no space for a family fridge or any real pantry. I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money so I re-jigged and rebuilt units using the existing ones to create something that is not only functional with loads of storage and space for two fridges, but is also deliciously beautiful.

Walk us through a typical Christmas Day in your household.
We go camping at Christmas. We usually drive on Christmas Day because the roads are empty. We let the kids unwrap their presents in the morning, and then we pack up and go. It’s not super glamorous, it’s just practical.

Nikki painted the cockatoo painting. It sits atop a Facebook Marketplace find, painted in Resene Quarter Craigieburn.

What’s your approach to colour when it comes to decorating?
It’s no secret that I love colour and I say do whatever makes you happy. But I do think you need to stick to a palette, for example, earthy tones or pastels. I also think to create consistency you should try to reuse a colour throughout the house. I often repeat black or brass with doors and picture frames.

We want all our rangehoods to have a framed picture on them now. What gave you that incredible idea?
I’m pretty sure it’s not an original idea, I would have seen it on Pinterest, for sure. My family were all saying no and shaking their heads as I was putting it up, but I just went with my gut. I think it ties the more traditional and modern elements together beautifully.

The main bedroom’s bedding and pillows are from H&M. A Freedom light shade is paired with an op-shop lamp base.

How long have you been in the house and what was it like when you bought it?
We have only been here for three or so months. It had been vacant for a while, so we had never seen it with anything in it. I have done the painting in most rooms to spruce it up, but for the most part we haven’t really started.

What work have you done on the house?
The mains water pipe burst the day we moved in, which was fun and put me unexpectedly behind a jackhammer for a day. The first thing we did was work in the kitchen. It wasn’t that old and had a new stone benchtop, but it just wasn’t that functional.

Any future work planned?
The day after we fixed the mains water, the upstairs shower started pouring through the floor below. I pulled it all out to find the leak and we have been saving our pennies since to finish renovating it. It’s almost done and I’m excited to have our bathroom back.

Jude’s room features a Mocka bedhead covered with Spotlight fabric. It is matched with an Adairs duvet and Kip & Co cushions.

Is this your forever home?
We call it our “forever for the next 10 years” home. We are both builders and have never lived in a new house we have built together, so I think one day we will do that and that will be our forever home.

Any tips for surviving the pre-Christmas stress?
I really don’t do stress in general, and Christmas is no exception. We don’t try to be everywhere and cook everything. I don’t stress about what I get the kids — they will probably just play with the box, anyway. Keep it casual, don’t try to impress your mother-in-law with a six-course meal, just keep topping up her wine and she won’t know the lamb is overcooked.

What’s your approach to decorating the tree?
The kids did 100 per cent of the decorations on the tree – the more, the merrier, I say. Some areas are better than others and the plan was to stick to pink and gold, but you can see what they thought of that. Christmas is about joy, not impressing anyone.

Text Caroline Moratti Photography Anna Briggs

Nikki Kettle’s approach to DIY Christmas decor

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