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This little country cottage has the sweetest floral style

Step inside this sweet little cottage and discover how its owners filled with it flora, fauna and trinkets from far-flung places


This little country cottage has the sweetest floral style

Kimberley Crisp (pictured on left), kindergarten teacher and director of a professional development consultancy, and Liane Sanderson, kindergarten teacher and “gofer and glue” of the aforementioned consultancy, plus cats Sappho and Smooch, and Lincoln the dog.


It was time to downsize

These days, life can often feel hectic and overly complicated. Some say the key to a simpler existence is to get rid of all that is unnecessary so you’re left only with what you value, and this is exactly what Kimberley Crisp and Liane Sanderson decided to do two years ago.

After 16 happy years in Napier, they sold their large two-storey house and downsized to a tiny cottage 10km away in the small town of Clive.


The couple were initially looking at a house in the seaside village of Haumoana, but when that door closed on them another fortuitously opened. Kimberley’s sister heard about the cottage and encouraged them to check out. “Its proximity to the main road nearly put us off as we were worried about our animal family,” recalls Kimberley. “But we decided to look anyway and fell instantly in love.”

Although tiny, the two-bedroom home boasted an enormous, lush and leafy backyard – perfect for the couple’s cats and dog to frolic in – and also had a one-bedroom studio for guests. The additional space in the front yard to park their beloved house bus, Billie Holiday, made the decision to buy an easy one.

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The interior style

Upon arrival, Kimberley and Liane immediately painted their bedroom and the bright orange laundry a fresh white. Then they heard their neighbours wanted to get rid of a houseload of floral Axminster carpet. Bev from Camwey Carpet Overlocking helped them transform the carpet into a series of mats for the cottage, the bus and their sisters’ homes.


The couple then filled the house with their favourite items of furniture and accessories collected over the years. “We like to create a ‘sensory banquet’ and surround ourselves with beautiful and meaningful things,” says Kimberley. “Handmade soy candles, flowers by the bucketload, great music and homegrown veges.”

Bags and baskets have become a favourite item to collect, perhaps reflecting their love of travel, and you’ll find these dotted around the house as both storage and decor. Photos and mementos from Kimberley and Liane’s travels are also prevalent and help transport them back to the places they’ve loved.


Helping hands

Although Kimberley and Liane have a great sense of their own style, they decided to enlist the help of interior designers Bibby & Brady for extra creative guidance. The design duo created a colour palette for the home’s exterior and garage plus the bedrooms and living area.


Taking their cue from the textiles and accessories inside, Bibby & Brady chose a soft blue grey for the house’s exterior with bolder accents of aquamarine and hot pink. The olive-green living room was painted a timeless silvery grey, which was continued into the main bedroom, giving it a more sophisticated feel.

The spare bedroom-come-office was transformed from a dark shade of mushroom to a soft apricot pink reminiscent of a sunset. New dusky pink linen curtains in the living room complemented the colour scheme, while a blue-and-white batik roman blind finished off the spare room.


Perhaps the biggest change to the interior was the addition of a peony wall mural. Recognising their clients’ love of flowers, Bibby & Brady used the wallpaper (a collaboration between Helen Bankers Photography and Back to the Wall), to define the small dining area in a corner of the kitchen.

Kimberley explains how discovering Bibby & Brady was serendipitous – but not altogether unexpected. “We believe the right people always cross our path at the right time,” she says. “We heard wonderful things about their work at exactly the time we were in need of some guidance. We loved their warm, engaging and authentic approach; they really got us. It’s as though they framed the picture perfectly.”


What’s next

As with most homes, the cottage is a work in progress. Liane continues to cultivate the verdant garden at both the front and back of the house. She plans to add a gated fence close to the front door to keep Lincoln safe from the busy road while they’re enjoying tea on the front deck.

Inside, Bibby & Brady will be working closely with the couple to update the kitchen and make it feel like it belongs with the rest of the house. Long-term plans include altering and making better sense of the bathroom, laundry and walk-in wardrobe at the cottage’s rear.


Kimberley and Liane embody the ideal that a house should be a reflection of its owners. “We both believe in expressing your authentic self partnered with your life experiences,” Kimberley explains. “This surpasses fleeting trends and instead embeds your style, which never goes out of fashion.”

Words by: Bibby & Brady. Photography by: Florence Charvin.

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