Blogs

Forest Dwelling

Spring appears to have winter firmly grafted to it this year - like a frosty hitchhiker who is refusing to end it’s journey. Occasionally we glimpse a brief taste of spring with a warm breeze and sunshine lifting our spirits for a day or two and then we are thrown back into the chill of a winter we would dearly love to see the back of.
I am sitting at home on a wind whipped day with shrouds of grey drizzle crawling up the harbour and a fire glowing and creaking in the wood burner next to me. I am watching the greyness engulf the grass green hills of Banks Peninsula and the wind sculpt the water into the jagged and leathery texture of parched clay - as if water was something solid rather than an hydrous and uncooperative liquid. The mirror opposite the table where I am working has a similarly ragged appearance as blackened veins of cracked silvering track their way from the edges of the glass towards the centre. A delicate process that has taken a century to achieve unlike a brazen southerly wind that can churn a harbour in moments.
Despite the cold, I know that it is spring because the window reflected in the mirror frames a cascade of fluttering blossom - as if a swarm of albino moths has alighted on the bowed branches of our plum tree. The absinthe green of new spring growth pushes it's way through the petals and the whole seasonal array graciously obscures the jaunty angles, aluminium joinery and the more orange than cream wall of the neighbouring house. What a beautiful backdrop is nature.
With the wintry weather inhibiting the full appreciation of spring’s beauty, I find myself on gloved and coat clad walks furtively snapping little twigs of blossom and other specimens of spring’s abundance to bring home and balance in the delicate vase on the bathroom windowsill or gather bouquet like in the glass jug on the dining table. This year I am needing to bring spring indoors.
 At Haunt we are continuing the theme of bringing nature indoors with armfuls of leaves and blossom being dragged through the showroom and crowded into containers - petals strewn across the floor like floral feathers. Last week we hung this glorious French tapestry on the back wall. It is an early 20th century copy of an 18th century “ verdure “ tapestry in the celebrated “ rustique “ style of Aubusson - once again nature provides a decorative and exquisite backdrop.
Let the weather do what it may - we now have flowers on the tables and an entire forest on the wall.
Spring has arrived.

The Colour Of Coffee

The dense cold of this winter has crept through every crack in our arthritic old house and seeped into my bones. It is the sort of cold that waits outside the door like an adversary demanding that you steel yourself as you intrepidly make your way to work. The mornings have been sharp with frost or shrouded in icy mist and the hills across the harbour often tinged with snow. We have had rain that has arrived like a stampede - it has swollen rivers and flooded houses. The days have been leaden, the winds bitter and the cold infinite.
This winter has reminded me of a winter spent in Paris many years ago. The cold is familiar - cold that is as incisive as a surgeon’s knife, raw and pervasive. I remember days spent walking Paris streets like an arctic flâneur. Every coat I owned was worn at once, my hands were gloved and as many layers of socks that would fit inside my boots were protecting my feet, my long scarf wound snugly around my neck like a thermal boa constrictor and still it was cold.
The beauty of Paris beckoned beyond the dusky chill and we would set off undeterred on our museum encrusted excursions. Like any explorer we had a survival strategy. When the cold became unbearable, usually when we could no longer feel our noses and the only sensation reaching our brains from our feet was pain, we would deviate towards a café. A radiant heater located discreetly above the door would brush us with warmth as we entered. It would take a moment for our eyes to adjust to the caramel light and the rich and roasted smell of coffee would rehabilitate us immediately. We would find a leathery corner exuding warmth and wait for our coffees or chocolat chauds to arrive. The brass rimmed tables would be filled with like minded others sheltering from the cold, bulky coats stuffed under chairs like sleeping pets and hands clasped eagerly around steaming cups and bowls. The interior was timeless and the atmosphere was hospitable and history tinged - I would imagine writers and poets of years gone by escaping their frozen garrets to find refuge in a local café. A place of warmth to write and sketch, to eat, drink and philosophise - a haven in the harsh world of winter.
The latest addition to the showroom at Haunt is this lovely late 19th century counter. The original painted finish is the colour of coffee and crackled like a crocodile. It feels as if it could have been plucked from a small corner café in Paris or from the pages of a Hemingway memoir. This charming counter would be a distinctive and characterful addition to any kitchen, cafe or store.

French café counter

La Toilette

The bathroom is a nurturing space and every detail is reassuringly familiar. The bathroom is where we arrange our hair, our face our clothes and our thoughts - it is the green room to the theatre of each day.
There is an element of ritual to our daily toilette and the washstand is a domestic altar of sorts. It bears witness to our intimate moments. As we pause for reflection in front of the mirror it frames our reveries, hopes and dreams.
The washstand should be beautiful - we should feel uplifted each morning as the gentle sunlight washes across the timeless marble and we reach for the comforting shroud of a fresh white towel. It is adorned with treasured objects - a favourite perfume nestles on the shelf and when the crystal stopper is removed the heady scent permeates the bathroom like an olfactory genie. The washstand is not only functional but it is also capable of soothing and reviving with it’s tranquil charm.
The latest addition to the Haunt showroom is this alluring French, Belle Epoque washstand. It dates from the late 19th century and hails from the South of France.
The raw glamour of this washstand has a distinctly Ralph Lauren quality to it. It makes me think of rustic yet luxurious weekends of perfection tucked away somewhere amongst rustling Monterey pines with a cherished partner, an exceptional Zinfandel and a view of a lake. It equally brings to mind those exquisite, intimate and velvety pastels by Degas capturing women bathing, alone with their thoughts and depicted in subtle hues - this washstand would not be out of place in such a setting.
Images of beauty and contentment inevitably spring to mind - this would be the perfect washstand to begin the perfect day.

Belle Epoque washstand

Nothing's Perfect

We thought we had our summer hours organised but now due to a change of circumstances Haunt will be closed for the last two Saturdays in January.
Haunt will be open again usual hours from Saturday 4th February.
We apologise for any inconvenience but please be in touch if you have any enquiries in the meantime.
lisa@haunt.co.nz    021 328896

Nothing's Perfect

Merry Christmas From Haunt

Thank you once again for your enthusiastic support and patronage during the past year.
We wish you and your families a fun and festive Christmas and a long and restorative summer break.

Haunt is open this Saturday, Christmas Eve, 11 am - 4pm and will be open every Saturday throughout January excluding New Year's Eve. If you have any out of town visitors who would like to visit Haunt outside of these hours please do not hesitate to call either Lisa 021 328896 or Simon 027 483 9581.

Merry Christmas

A Seaside Christmas

Another year almost concluded and Christmas is lurking just around the corner, as it does every year, surprising us with it’s proximity.
Christmas creates it’s own unique chaos - it is a kind of festive storm that sorts the supremely organised amongst us from the more organisationally challenged. I count myself in the latter category. The storm begins to break on Christmas morning and however windswept and tousled I find myself, I will always have the time and inclination to decorate the table - one of the most enjoyable tasks of the day.
If the Christmas table has become your focus and you have decided that this Christmas you need a new table - one with personality, provenance and patina ... our Christmas Special is just for you.

 

A Seaside Christmas

Shades Of Grey

This information laden, technicolour world of ours can often be an assault on the senses. Navigating the city usually involves visual entanglements with unsightly billboards or commercial signage shouting in jarring and aggressive colours - colours so loud they make your eyes deaf. It takes a good deal of strategy and planning to get from one side of town to the other with your conception of beauty and air of tranquility intact.
At times I find myself driving as if I were following one of those childhood mazes - careful to not make a wrong turn which might spit me out onto a road so heinous that it will likely taint if not ruin my entire afternoon. Certain routes are to be avoided at all cost and if driving along these parades of ugliness is inescapable the task must be undertaken with eyes to the front, looking straight ahead. Like a pupil in class at a strict Victorian boarding school - you obey the rules to avoid being punished. If you lapse, you will be confronted with a lurid street scape of brightly coloured, homogeneous buildings decorated with text speak slogans and bilious banners - and consequently your heart will sink.
The process of visual editing can be rather exhausting and is never entirely successful. Every day there is some unexpected colour collision to contend with -  a pollution so ubiquitous that it must be tolerated. Bright and brash appears to be the universal mantra of the commercial world but it is an anathema to mine.
I find solace in more subtle hues, in the mid tones where nothing is loud and obvious - where the nuance of colour is whispered and complexity resides in the shadows. Where the parameters are not so harshly defined, where there is still room for a maybe, for imagination, for pause. Harmony is interstitial - it exists somewhere on that gently obscured island between absolutes. Grey is not black and it is not white - it is not that simple. It is subjective and subdued, refined and enduring and a most appropriate backdrop for the intimacy of home.

This French 19th century draper’s table beautifully displays all the subtlety of the colour grey  - the paint finish is original, unwaxed to preserve the delicate, velvety surface of the paint. A stunning feature side, display or sofa table or a wonderful addition to a kitchen.

Shades Of Grey

The Casual Glamour Of Vintage Brass

Haunt's new collections page currently featuring vintage brass.

There is a new page on the Haunt website where we will showcase changing collections that reflect our current obsession or enthusiasm du jour.

I have long held a fascination with antique or vintage brass and it is with a sense of delight that I now see brass pieces gleaming from the pages of the latest interiors magazines. Finally it seems, the world has awoken to the glamour of brass. Brass as an accent gives an interior an instant revamp. It mixes beautifully with both rustic and formal pieces and is capable of creating an atmosphere of earthy elegance or Hollywood glam depending on the setting. Gently tarnished by time spent in the modish interiors of the mid 20th century - vintage brass has a warm allure, an abiding and casual glamour that is unequivocally chic.

The Casual Glamour Of Vintage Brass

La Table de Boucher

Butchery is a mysterious art somehow - it is one of life’s processes that elicits truly conflicted emotions. I can think of no other trade that dances so precariously on the edge of horror and beauty.
It is in France that one so often encounters a traditional butcher’s shop operating now as it always has, defiantly resisting the march of time and modernisation. The shop frontage is intricately tiled like the scales of some exotic beast and the word Boucherie crawls across the window in scratched, italic, gold script. The ominous gleam of metal blades and implements is discernible in the shadowy interior against an elegant backdrop of timeworn marble. Meat is displayed neatly ordered in the window and pretty lines of ruffled parsley separate one section from the next. Price tickets impale various cuts of meat and they are decorated with the butchery’s logo - an unnervingly cheerful pig portrayed in a chirpy 1930’s graphic style. You enter the shop, it smells like history and you immediately covet the polished brass scales on the counter and are determined to find a replica of the butcher’s smart indigo blue apron before you leave France. The scene is infused with the romance of a utilitarian yet noble profession and you are
captivated.
The image of such a butchery nestles somewhere in our mind alongside reveries of culinary excellence. The heady scent of a slow cooked and sweetly spiced beef daube, the delicate sizzle of the perfect steak, cooked `a point with a hint of anchovy butter added as it rests, salty and succulent lamb served with a gratin dauphinois - the undeniable pleasure of dining well.  A delicious meal enjoyed in appropriate surroundings with the right company is one of the great pleasures of civilised culture - yet once in a while, if we allow ourselves to think about it, we are visited by a feeling of unease as we remember that on our plate is a piece of dead animal, an animal that not so long ago was enjoying the sunshine and leisurely chewing grass, innocent and unaware of it’s impending fate. In those moments we realise with deep certainty that there is not much that is civilised about being civilised.
I suffer immensely from these conflicted emotions - if I allow my mind to roam into these spaces I find that I can barely touch the meat that was intended for that night’s dinner yet I find it hard to resist ordering the steak frites on the bistro menu. I imagine I am not alone. I have no answers and obviously no conviction,
just a vague sense that this most disturbing arrangement is yet another of life’s odious imperfections - an everyday atrocity that I wish were not so.
The carnivorous activities of our predecessors have however given rise to some attractive furnishings and accoutrements associated with butchery - French butcher’s blocks are not only beautiful to look at but a most useful addition to any kitchen - whether it is a leg of lamb you are deboning or simply chopping the vegetables for a vegetarian cassoulet.
If you are currently redecorating or designing a new kitchen we have two lovely butcher’s blocks in stock at Haunt as well as many culinary connected pieces of furniture and accessories.

La Table De Boucher

The Waiting Room

Time is my nemesis. Every day I must do battle with it.
Time appears to be such an ephemeral and fluid thing - it seems such a shame to carve it up with precise mathematical segmentation so that we can quantify it’s passing and plan how we are going to use it before it even arrives. Hours and minutes help us to describe time and allow us I suspect, to pretend to understand it.
A day, I am told, should be enough allocation of time to do a good many things but somehow all the things I intend to do in a day just never get done. Time is a trickster - it certainly doesn’t feel like it dishes itself out in the standard portions that the clock insists it does. What gets done gets done and what doesn’t doesn’t and this is how it has been ever since I can remember.
I have long ago accepted that time and myself are really never going to get along although I have had intermittent attempts at changing this. When I started high school my mother bought me my very first watch. I remember being in love with the unusual shade of maroon on the clock face and the shiny leather strap. I wore the watch more like a piece of jewellery and when I eventually connected the gentle tick and the inexorable rotation of the hands with the finite countdown of my life the watch was removed from my wrist and carried more like a pocket watch to be consulted only when necessary - when one needed to catch the bus for instance.
In the 1980’s I bought a filofax wishing to structure my days and emulate all those time efficient and professional people I observed around me; the filofax quickly became a surreptitious sketch book disguised as organisation with a fabulous fold out world map that prompted many travel themed day dreams. Now many years on, with a wealth of retrospective analysis I have deemed this time management thing to be a frustrating and futile activity - time will win in the end.
If you don’t look at a clock time can surprise you. It possesses an elastic quality, it can bend and stretch to accommodate various moods and activities. This is my theory and every summer I prove my hypothesis. For a treasured few weeks at the cottage by the sea the only clock, the one on the oven, is covered with dense black electrical tape and the days unfold free of schedule and unfettered by time. Time slows down, the days are full and it is bliss.
Owning antiques feels a little like capturing time in a sense - tapping into that continuum that is more enduring than our singular lives. As time continues to creep it’s petty pace from day to day and we sit on our 19th century chairs to eat at our 18th century table we invite the centuries into our home - it seems to defy the brevity of it all somewhat and it is probably the only small victory I will ever have in this relentless struggle with time.

The Waiting Room

Merry Christmas From Haunt

Wishing you and your families a magical Christmas and a relaxing and restorative summer break. Thank you all very much for your enthusiastic and continuing support over the past year.

Haunt will be open every Saturday 11am - 4pm and by appointment anytime during the week until Christmas and then we will be closed throughout the month of January.

Three French Hens

The Rustic Kitchen

Spring always makes me feel like heading for the market and then of course the kitchen.
Bunched baby carrots with feathery green plumage waving enticingly from the market trestle, slender leeks with their fresh and wiry, dirt encrusted roots and sublime colouring - deep forest green fading to milky white like the most perfect watercolour. I find miniature spring onions displayed like flowers in a vintage vase at the neighbouring stand - is it not a crime to pick them when they are so small ? I consider trying to replant them under the kitchen window when I get home but decide that the abundance of spring allows for the odd culinary sacrifice.
I have a plan - it is spring and time to make a lamb navarin. This simple French dish is spring on a plate and an annual ritual - it somehow closes the door on winter and always rekindles memories of France.
An earthy fragrance scents the room as soon as I empty the vegetables onto the counter - the soil scatters across the well worn marble top like veins. I rummage through the chaos of our cutlery drawer and find my favourite 19th century knife - the familiar handle slips into my palm, comfortable, as if it had been made bespoke to fit my hand. I notice again the slight imperfection in the beaten silver collar and know that the century old blade will slice with ease as I prepare the vegetables for the navarin. I spot the gentle pea green speckle of the enamel casserole dish at the very bottom of the wooden crate on castors that stores our pots and pans. I lift the weighty dish and nudge the crate. It slides ghost driven back under the counter - our new self closing system installed by the earthquakes conveniently tilting the kitchen floor.
I smile as I watch the crate slide back into place and I think of all the outstanding meals I have enjoyed over the years that invariably come from small or simple, rustic and functional kitchens. Kitchens that produce food just as heavenly, if not more so, than vast artistically lit, appliance laden galleys boasting myriad modern wonders.
Our setting this month at Haunt is a wistful ode to the rustic kitchen. Kitchens where families gathered, pots aux feux bubbled routinely on stove tops, potatoes were peeled at the kitchen table and drawers creaked and groaned as they were opened and closed.
This gracious 18th century, cherry wood buffet a deux corps hails from Aix En Provence. The interior has been lovingly lined many years ago with a traditional Soleilado style fabric - an authentic and quintessentially Provençale touch. This charming cupboard would be a pretty and practical feature piece for a modern rustic kitchen.

The Rustic Kitchen

The Black Swan Theory

The star of our setting this month is the exquisite ebonised French Empire daybed adorned with elegant black swans. This was an unexpected and exciting find and is truly an object of beauty. The daybed is presented in it’s deconstructed glory ready to re upholster in the fabric of your choice.
One of the greatest certainties in life is that it is sure to be uncertain and black swans are curiously used as a metaphor to describe the improbable happenings that blight our existential security.
Until the seventeenth century historical records described only white swans and it was therefore assumed that only white swans existed. Then in 1697 a Dutch explorer discovered black swans in Western Australia - a discovery which abruptly disproved centuries of assumption and illustrated the possibility of any accepted fact being over turned by an unexpected event or revelation. The Black Swan Theory was coined to describe these rare occasions - events that lie outside of our regular expectations and can change our understanding of prior reality.
The Black Swan Theory is often talked about in relation to financial markets to describe the unforeseen and often random influences that can affect the rise or fall of stock values and make reliable algorithms or predictions an impossibility.
Locally our significant Black Swan would be the Christchurch earthquakes. These surprising and shocking events permanently altered our perception of quotidian reality. They irrevocably changed our world and our expectations of how our lives will unfold.
We experience many mundane Black Swans - a winter of lingering illness that destroys our best laid plans, the deviously hidden rental car drop off point at Rome airport that causes us to miss our flight, the unreliable iPhone alarm clock ( user’s fault I am sure ) that has precipitated many challenging mornings … in fact most days seldom go to plan.
It is quite a skill this human ability to accommodate inconstancy. There is something admirable in our willingness to adapt to change and our acceptance of the unpredictable nature of our lives. Somewhere in the midst of the horror of uncertainty lies a very particular beauty -  it is the vulnerability and fragility of life that seems somehow to make it so precious.
Black swans are such a beguiling metaphor for the capricious nature of existence and a delightful decorative motif for an extraordinary daybed.

Empire daybed

A Good Book And A Sense Of Place

 At times New Zealand feels a very long way from Europe. I have been known to suffer pangs of guilt about relocating European antiques to such a far flung and incongruous destination. Often these beautiful pieces seem somewhat displaced, like cultural orphans abandoned in a foreign and lonely setting - their grace and time worn beauty still intact but sadly out of context. “They are inanimate objects“ Simon regularly reminds me. I know, but I can’t help feeling that I have somehow stripped them of their meaning and relevance.

A European sensibility runs murkily through my veins like some sort of mysterious genetic memory yet it has frequently been accompanied by a certain sense of unease.  My Euro - centric fascination appeared to conflict with the general perception of what it meant to be a kiwi. The dog-eared puzzle of New Zealand identity has on the whole sought to reject European influence in order to establish it’s own distinctive voice - like a teenager rebelliously packing their bags and leaving home to chase an autonomous future away from the meddling of parents.

Just as New Zealand once found the need to reject Europe I similarly decided that I needed to reject New Zealand in order to freely enjoy the wealth of European art and literature which I felt such an affinity for - that somehow the two were mutually exclusive. I spent my own teenage years devising plans to get to Europe and raging against New Zealand because I had decided that it had no history, no depth, no gravitas.

The years have eroded this once unrelenting conviction of course, but yet again I stand corrected. I have recently read the novel Wulf by Hamish Clayton. This exquisite piece of writing so deftly and authentically weaves European myth into the story of New Zealand. This book describes the history, the depth and the gravitas. The historical merging of two cultures is understood, respected and conveyed with both horror and beauty but primarily with sensitivity. The descriptions of nature are raw and vivid - as if the words were daubs of paint, their layered application gives visual texture to an almost primal yet familiar landscape. Within these pages I glean a sense of belonging - a subtle permission to feel at home. The gleam of gilt or the serpentine curve of a cabriole leg would not feel out of place amongst these "wild green rooms" these "black green trees”.

Thankfully modern New Zealand is much less inclined to dissect, define and prescribe the concept of “kiwiness” but it is always a joy to discover yet another reason to further bury my teenage grudge and affirm context for the vast collection of European antiques that now call New Zealand home. This fine book provides many such reasons.

 

Haunt By Night

As the Autumn evenings begin to close in we are often remarking on how magical the Haunt showroom looks as the light fades and the chandeliers shine. In order to share this peculiarly Haunt evening ambience we are holding a twilight soirée. Please join us for wine and cheese amongst the antiques illuminated by chandelier and candlelight.
If the evening of the 30th is chilly please do wrap up warm, as you know the Haunt showroom is particularly challenging to heat. We are looking forward to a perhaps frosty but fabulous evening !

Haunt by night

Happy Easter

Wishing everyone a fun and chocolate filled Easter break.
If you happen to have any out of town guests who would like to visit Haunt or you are simply in the mood for interior decorating this Easter ...
Haunt will be OPEN Easter Saturday 11am - 4pm.

Happy Easter

Rustic Beauty

There is a steely grey clatter as I place my laptop on the end of our kitchen table to sit down and work. The power cord scrawls across the table top like an albino snake creating a tripping hazard as it slithers towards the power point. This is not the only potential danger in the kitchen at the moment, there is an open packet of rosemary and thyme potato chips beckoning me from the other end of the table but the power cord has successfully cordoned them off … for now.

I could work somewhere else. I could actually do this at work, I am often reminded by family who are once again sliding and balancing piles of papers in order to create enough space to set the table for dinner. I could, I know - but I like this table. There is an outline burnt into the wooden top just next to the computer that looks like a little crown. It is the unmistakable shape of a shearing comb - an indelible tattoo from the table’s rural past. I like this jagged burn mark, I like the scuffs, I like the worm holes, I like the history. I like working at this table.

As time passes I am increasingly drawn to the beauty of rusticity. I am not sure whether it is age directing me towards the simpler things in life or whether the casual and charming imperfection of modest things truly possesses an abiding and timeless beauty.

The time ravaged patina of a well used, utilitarian wooden surface describes the simple yet noble nature of human endeavour. The ragged scratches, the knocks and dents, the well-worn grain all evoke the lives of others who have lived and laboured before us. The life stories embedded in those markings are familiar and enduring. They are beautiful.

This magnificent nineteenth century counter is the embodiment of rustic beauty. It’s chipped and worn faux-grained painted finish recalls it’s life in a French village hardware store. The counter top is worn back to the wood where over the years hardware purchases would have been passed to and fro across the surface. It brings to mind images of bundles of nails weighed, wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. Household projects carefully planned and executed. It exudes a unique history and undeniable character and warmth. In this modern, peripatetic world where people are too busy to pause for meaning it is a delight to find a sense of continuum in the time-worn texture and rugged patina of an old wooden table or counter top and as you lift your cup to find the watery coffee stain beneath, you realise that you too are adding your own chapter to this continuing and treasured story.

Rustic Beauty

The End Of The Summer Break

A small cottage in a tiny beach settlement on the West Coast should be the ideal place to escape and forget that the rest of the world exists - sadly now it is not.
Usually the summer months are when the sea behaves itself. In winter we have had the sea foam come frothing through the flax bushes, the ominous rustle announcing the waves raging behind. Once the sea successfully surrounded the cottage buoying our weighty chopping block which began gently thudding against the back door as if asking to be let in. Usually though, throughout the summer the high tide line graciously recedes allowing us to build a small fire, cook our burgers over the embers and watch the sun poetically sink beneath the horizon. But not this year - at high tide the sea was trying to join the barbecue and we were having to schedule dinner around a tide chart. Like a tidal memento mori, the sea is reminding us that things are changing.
As the world continues to process, manufacture and tirelessly chase the questionable holy grail of economic growth, the ecological consequences of our collective activities quietly gather. A new habitat is arriving which will require some thought and adaptation. In an imagined future we may eventually query whether new is always better and take time to rediscover and treasure all the wonderful things that have already been created. We may choose to furnish with antiques instead of manufacturing something new and superfluous. We may remember to value and appreciate the beautifully crafted pieces that already exist, that describe our history and possibly now more than ever have relevance in our modern homes. Then again, quite possibly - we may not.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”  
Robert Louis Stevenson

Haunt is open regular hours

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas

Thank you all so very much for your valued and continuing support.
Without the enthusiastic and encouraging engagement of our wonderful customers Haunt would be a mere shadow of itself, like a forgotten storage room in the bowels of a museum - a repository for beautiful yet inanimate objects, seldom visited and lacking context. Your participation buoys our endeavour and animates what would otherwise be - a very still life.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and a relaxing and restorative summer break.

Wishing You A Merry Christmas

Festive Furniture

That festive time of year filled with family, friends, food and fun is just around the corner - and we have so much to do…
Many of us are pulling those dog eared, hand scrawled and butter stained recipes out from behind the stack of new and fabulously photographed cookbooks that have now taken pole position on our kitchen shelves. These recent and modish culinary tomes with their retro bound, matt finished gorgeousness have been impolitely obscuring the familiar ragged brown folder with teenage doodles earnestly framing the words ' My Recipes '. The folder where Aunty Yvonne’s Christmas cake recipe and Mum’s almond icing recipe sit waiting patiently year after year for their annual outing. This year the forlorn folder has slipped unnoticed down the back of the shelves and takes some persistence to locate. The Christmas cake tin is proving as elusive as the recipe folder and the lid from the steamed pudding dish is nowhere to be found. It is a long time between Christmases.
Miraculously each year the frenzy does subside. As the time left before Christmas grows shorter so does the long list of to dos that has been furtively rummaging around in the bottom of my bag filling me with a sense of horror every time I glance at it - there is no longer time for procrastination.
Come Christmas morning the crush of urgency is forgotten and we find ourselves, champagne flute in hand, happy to be with those we love and enjoying a day of celebration; whether we crossed everything off that list or not and maybe even if the steamed pudding is a little soggy.

If interior decoration crises are fueling your Christmas panic we have a delightful array of festive furniture at Haunt. There is a wonderful selection of rustic workbenches in stock at the moment - the perfect Christmas sideboard. They are all waiting to display bottles of Christmas cheer and abundant platters of food and don’t forget mirrors to reflect your Christmas sparkle …
 

Festive Furniture

Spring Fever

In an uncertain and often troubling world it is somewhat reassuring to know that the sweet freshness of spring so reliably follows the interminable bleakness of winter. Spring is a bouquet of hope.
Several weeks ago I found myself at home trying to shake the final vestiges of a winter cold. The house was being buffeted by yet another southerly storm as I glanced out the window and noticed to my delight; not only a small crowd of wax eyes foraging in the skeletal branches of the plum tree but the first sprinkling of vivid green buds. Within days there was a ghostly white dusting of blossom and a flurry of gossamer petals continued to gather as if the naked branches were mysteriously plucking them out of the air. Spring had arrived all at once; framed with casual serendipity by our kitchen window.
There was now a spectacular floral backdrop as we unloaded the dishwasher or made a cup of tea. I would leave the curtains open until well after dark as the clouds of white petals would luminesce in the crepuscular light like the interior of an otherworldly nightclub providing an enchanting alternative to the six o’clock news.
Now there is a green room outside our kitchen window. The blossom extravaganza has segued into a delightful canopy of leaves, moss is verdantly cladding our earthquake furrowed brick patio and the acanthus plants against the fence have lavishly arranged their glossy, almost prehistoric foliage as a definitive exemplar of the colour green. The rusted and weathered French café chairs are scattered a little askew, the wrought iron table with it's legs scrolled like ivy sits expectantly in the shade. The scene is set and as soon as the nasty easterly wind allows we will be dining outside surrounded by the beauty of nature and looking forward to the promise of summer.

Spring Fever

Well Bread

There is something very essential about bread. It provides sustenance and has sparked revolutions. The simple alchemy of flour, water and yeast weaves it’s mundane magic through our daily lives providing the familiar carbohydrate that so many of us depend on.

My childhood memories of bread are fond. Our mother used to grind wheat in a small hand mill precariously attached to the laundry bench. Sometimes we would help and watch with wonder as the kernels of wheat transformed into clouds of flour and billowed into the receptacle below. Mum baked the most delicious wholemeal bread. It’s earthy scent would permeate the house as it baked and we would line up for thick slices of the warm bread as soon as it came out of the oven. Butter with honey from our stepdad’s beehive in the garden were the toppings of choice and the melting stickiness would drip through our fingers as we raced to devour the bread. The smell of baking bread still signifies home for me and comfort is reliably delivered by that heavenly pairing of toast and honey.

Bakeries have long been a vital social establishment - providing such a fundamental ingredient they became the nucleus of every village in France. They have always captivated me with their alluring selection of breads promising such deliciousness and answering such a basic need. It never ceases to amaze me that the heroic baker has been working mysterious and unimaginable hours during the night just to provide us with our daily bread. Bread making is a noble art, it is steeped in the lofty importance of the everyday. It is at once utilitarian and majestic - this is it’s unique charm, and the furniture and accoutrements associated with bakeries inevitably share a similar appeal.

On discovering a large worktable from a bakery near Marseille I was gripped by that familiar bakery - induced excitement and this stunning table promptly joined the Haunt collection. This is a remarkable table of grand proportions - measuring 3 metres in length it could host a veritable banquet. Sturdy, practical and beautiful it is destined to be the social centre of a very special home. The 19th century, directoire style cupboard behind hails from Normandy and was used in a bakery to store baking moulds and odd shaped and sized paraphernalia. This unique cupboard would be a characterful storage solution for any room. The bistro chairs scattered around the table have undoubtedly seated many café patrons over the years, buttering crusty tartines to dip into their café au laits perhaps ….
 

Autumn Wonderland

Autumn is upon us. All of a sudden our mundane, suburban streets are festooned with fiery foliage. Trees ablaze with colour as if King Midas has quietly wandered amongst the pot-holed ugliness of post-quake Christchurch and taken it upon himself to decorate the nothingness. We find ourselves briefly in an Autumnal wonderland tinged with gold.
While Autumn is a visual treat it also sadly heralds the inexorable winter chill. As the leaves crunch like leather underfoot and we are enfolded by the shadowy gloom of an Autumn dusk we look forward to a warm refuge at the end of the day - we look forward to going home. The floral scent of gently baked quince, the crackle of the fire and the warmth of conversation. Away from the wind whipped streets, away from the exigences of the working day, our homes are our havens.
Autumn leaves have congregated on our doorstep like scraps of dessicated parchment - the postscripts to a summer already spent. They are scattered so prettily across the hallway floor that they may well have been placed there with artistic intent. Their Autumnal tones have inspired our setting at Haunt this month. We have imagined a rustic yet elegant room - the perfect escape from a wintery world.
The Napoleon III, deep buttoned leather armchair is one of a pair. Warm squirrel brown tones and sassy fringed detailing - these chairs were a lucky find. Decorative, chic and oozing personality, the perfect chairs to place in front of the fire.
The gilt mirror is French Empire and dates from the early 19th century. Beautifully ravaged by time it has a playful, laissez-faire appeal. The lucite, brass and glass shelving unit is in the style of Pierre Vandel, circa 1970 - a sleek accent in our winter room holding snow white 19th century French ceramics. The rustic side table is a potting table from the Loire valley. The perfect proportions for a side table or console, it would add characterful French country charm to any interior.
Albert Camus once remarked that " Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower ". The captivating beauty of this decorative season provides endless inspiration for the home.

Autumn Wonderland

Venetian Splendour

Venice, so absurdly beautiful that it feels more like a dream than a city.
Corridors of Palazzos line the waterways, the sea laps gently against the faded gelato colours of the masonry and the filigree of their decoration throws lace-like shadows, as if spun by Renaissance spiders, across the canals onto the neighbouring walls. Light dances between the water and the architecture and history glistens like a string of pearls threaded across the centuries. The intricate beauty of Venice is forever woven in our memories and is a testament to the breathtaking splendour and artistry achievable by mankind.
The challenge of modern Venice is to find the elusive quiet space in which to commune with this overwhelming beauty, away from the seething swathe of tourists who feel as if they may wear away this glorious city with their incessant photographs and babble just as surely as the sea slowly erodes it’s precious yet precarious foundations.
This month at Haunt, away from the maddening crowds, we reflect on Venice.
The star of our setting is a large Venetian, sectioned, églomisé mirror. The églomisé decoration is beautifully tarnished echoing the faded grandeur of Venice herself - a spectacular and charming feature mirror. The French, 19th century, Louis 15 style console table  provides an appropriate palazzo ambience and the 1960’s Pierre Vandel side table adds a touch of 20th century glam. The little French, 19th century, Louis 16 style armchair would sit prettily in any room.

Our latest container from France has just arrived and the new pieces are gradually finding their way into the showroom as they are cleaned, restored and made ready for sale.
 

Venetian Splendour

Flora and Fauna

Throughout the summer the impenetrable wall of flax stood tall between the cottage and the beach. It sheltered us from the wind and obscured the ever present threat of the sea. The pohutukawa arched overhead providing shade and softly scattered it’s circus red stamen amongst the pages of my book. A crowd of insects hummed above the carpet of dandelions which we didn't have the heart to mow and the bellbirds punctuated the lazy hours with their silvery chimes.
After feeling so nurtured by nature this summer it seems appropriate to reflect on the special role of nature in design and decoration.
Our setting at Haunt this month is reminiscent of a naturalist’s den.
The elegant Sheraton armchair is decorated with charming illustrative paintwork depicting arcadian floral designs in the rococo manner. The early 19th century French trumeau is unusually and whimsically encrusted with gilt moths whilst layered green paint clings like lichen to the iron table base below. The serpentine scrolls of the wrought iron confectioner's table recall those of an unfurling vine.
Ever since the walls of a humble cave in Lascaux were scribbled upon with decorative intent we have been using the inherent beauty of nature as our decorative palette. Nature provides an abundant lexicon of motif which we joyously employ to beautify the environments we dwell in.
We paper our walls with botanical prints, embellish textiles with floral embroidery and admire the deftly rendered natural images which decorate myriad furnishings throughout history. We invite the outdoors indoors and in doing so, one would hope, remind ourselves to take special care of this delicately balanced and infinitely complex natural world, this teeming festival of life, our planet, our home.

Flora and Fauna

Home Sweet Home

We are back from our busy and fruitful buying trip in France !

Haunt will be open usual hours again from this Saturday the 30 November 11 am - 4 pm .

We're back !

Fermeture Exceptionelle

Fermeture Exceptionelle

A Spring Vignette

Daffodils, birdsong, scented blossom and finally daylight saving !
Spring at last, bringing with it a lightness of spirit, a froth of anticipation as we look forward to the warmer weather and those chilly days of winter slowly fade into memory.
Haunt's spring vignette combines fresh whites and greens, rustic charm and botanical exuberance.
Blossom cascades from a glass vessel atop a beautiful French butcher's or patisserie table.
The glorious green wrought iron base is accented by brass detailing
and the green veined marble is original. A rustic colonial cupboard provides a textured backdrop and
the moss green velvet of an 18th century Louis 16 fauteuil adds a leafy note.

" And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the Daffodils."   William Wordsworth

A Spring Vignette

A Novel Idea

" A room without books is like a body without a soul " Marcus Tullius Cicero 1st Century BC

At Haunt this month we have created a book lover's or writer's study. A book filled room redolent with exciting possibility - all those ideas , imagined worlds and beautifully crafted words. The complete works of Victor Hugo are piled precariously upon a late 19th century, Napoleon III ebonised bureau plat. The Louis 16 style chairs are upholstered in pretty melon pink velvet with an original sky-blue and dove grey painted finish. A faded dusky blue velvet Napoleon III salon chair provides the perfect comfortable nook to relax with your favourite novel. The exceptional Louis 15 style gilt screen in the background is decorated with 19th century whimsical etchings depicting arcadian scenes and a large French tôle tray adds a hint of chinoiserie.
A setting reminiscent of a Proustien novel where the decor is disheveled yet chic and literature reigns supreme.

I cannot bear the thought of a world without books and I sincerely hope that our bookshelves are never emptied by the modern digital tsunami that is currently threatening the printed word.
Reading is a great pleasure tinged with regret, and in the words of the inimitable Frank Zappa,
" so many books, so little time. "

A Novel Idea

Introducing The Latest Arrivals Page

Our newly created Latest Arrivals page is the place to keep up to date with the most recent additions to the Haunt collection.
This is where the latest stock will be showcased as it is photographed and added to the antiques inventory on the website.
Remember to check in regularly to see whats new !
Often stock doesn't make it onto the website or even into the showroom, if you are looking for a special or particular item please do let us know in case there is something tucked away in the warehouse or we may be able to source that perfect piece on our next buying trip.

Introducing The Latest Arrivals Page

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