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Perfection – with a touch of taxidermy – in a Georgian-style Canterbury home

Loknath Das March 14, 2018 Home Deco Comments Off on Perfection – with a touch of taxidermy – in a Georgian-style Canterbury home
Perfection – with a touch of taxidermy – in a Georgian-style Canterbury home

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The clean lines and tidy symmetry of this Georgian-style house make it a happy place for a perfectionist couple.

Not a hair is allowed out of place in the immaculately ordered rooms of Hartford House.

A marauding hare, however, has free rein over the strawberry patch on Tara-Jayne Stapleton and Carl Loader’s 3.2ha Canterbury property.

“We haven’t had a single strawberry, the hare has literally eaten every one,” Tara-Jayne says. “He gets away with it because he’s beautiful. It’s not a pet, it just lives here and must have a sweet tooth.”

The Georgian-style property is framed by a 75m reflection pond that becomes 
a swimming school for ducklings each spring.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

The Georgian-style property is framed by a 75m reflection pond that becomes a swimming school for ducklings each spring.

This relaxed attitude to the fluffy-tailed garden invader – Tara-Jayne happily buys her strawberries from the supermarket – does not extend beyond the vegetable patch. The self-confessed neat freak and her equally fastidious partner co-own a crime scene cleaning business and share several traits besides keeping a tidy house.

They bought their three-storey, seven-bedroom Georgian-style country house largely on the basis of its attractive setting and the balanced proportions of the house and large pond.

The former Christchurch city-dwellers spent a couple of years relishing an urban lifestyle on Auckland’s North Shore before returning south in early 2016. Tara-Jayne had viewed the house years earlier when it was last on the market and a friend was considering purchasing it. Once the for sale sign reappeared, she began dreaming of lily-clad ponds and planting her first-ever vegetable garden. Carl was initially less enthusiastic about becoming a landowner in rural Ohoka, surrounded by lawns and pūkeko, some chickens and a couple of pet sheep.

“He’s a city slicker but he loves it here. He likes hanging out at home now, you have to push him to go into town. And it’s a nice supportive community, all the neighbours seem to know one another.”

Tara-Jayne with her troop of miniature schnauzers – Sidney, Stella and Spencer.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Tara-Jayne with her troop of miniature schnauzers – Sidney, Stella and Spencer.

The move was also a major change for their miniature schnauzers Sidney and Stella, who spent most of their Auckland years indoors, down a shared driveway, surrounded by high fences and multiple neighbours. They were initially wary of country life but since the arrival of puppy Spencer, all three dogs have discovered the joy of romping in vast, green spaces.

The couple’s other animals remain indoors, steadfastly still. Star of their taxidermy collection is George the peacock, named in honour of actor George Clooney, “because he’s super elegant too.” Tara-Jayne acquired the bird in Tauranga and says visitors are fascinated to see his vibrant plumage at close quarters. He has been strategically placed to gaze knowingly out the sitting room window.

Simon the stuffed owl shares his moniker with English reality television judge and producer Simon Cowell because Tara-Jayne considers him a wise man.

In the more formal part of the garden, buxus hedging surrounds 100 white ‘Iceberg’ roses; in spring and summer everyone ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

In the more formal part of the garden, buxus hedging surrounds 100 white ‘Iceberg’ roses; in spring and summer everyone who comes to the door receives a bunch of roses.

The rest of the interior menagerie includes the head of a fox and an African serval, as well as antiques and treasures from overseas travels. A pair of Japanese vases had to be carefully stowed in hand luggage for their journey home while the samurai warrior’s suit, padded metal elaborately embroidered with gold thread, was bought from an Auckland antiques dealer.

The oldest piece of furniture is a 1710 French console (see page 32) that was bought on Trade Me from an American immigrant whose art collection included four Andy Warhol paintings.

The Stapleton-Loader abode was designed by Christchurch architect Ray Hawthorne and built about a decade ago for a developer who landscaped the property well before he built on it. The original multi-hued wallpapers and mosaic of carpet – a different shade in every room – have been replaced with neutral shades, and a new kitchen adds functionality and luxury.

The French console in the front entrance dates back to around 1710; the plaster and wire mirror was a Trade Me find that ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

The French console in the front entrance dates back to around 1710; the plaster and wire mirror was a Trade Me find that underwent extensive restoration.

The garden has been culled, too. Tara-Jayne’s aversion to messy leaves and bare winter limbs meant many of the deciduous trees had to go, to be replaced by conifers and other evergreens.

But the grand water feature remains untouched. “It’s a beautiful setting. I’ve always wanted a pond but often they’re added as an afterthought and they’re not sited well. This one’s situated a nice distance away. I love the ducks and water lilies and the swans. But most of all, it’s the symmetry. A Georgian house is the perfect thing for a Libran with OCD.”

Carl’s keen interest in martial arts is reflected in the Japanese samurai suit of armour standing in the hallway.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Carl’s keen interest in martial arts is reflected in the Japanese samurai suit of armour standing in the hallway.

A pair of bronze art deco lamps bought in Bangkok sit in the lounge alongside a coffee table made from a desk; Simon the ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

A pair of bronze art deco lamps bought in Bangkok sit in the lounge alongside a coffee table made from a desk; Simon the South African spotted eagle owl came from Flock & Herd.

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In the study, a fox head overlooks the desk with the head of an African serval cat that came with a sticker announcing ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

In the study, a fox head overlooks the desk with the head of an African serval cat that came with a sticker announcing his name, Bryce.

George the peacock in the sitting room.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

George the peacock in the sitting room.

A gilded ram’s head chair below a lithograph by Christchurch artist Philip Beadle.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

A gilded ram’s head chair below a lithograph by Christchurch artist Philip Beadle.

A Lalique water nymph vase sits on the Georgian dining table surrounded by Jacobean chairs; the blue and white ceramics ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

A Lalique water nymph vase sits on the Georgian dining table surrounded by Jacobean chairs; the blue and white ceramics have survived multiple earthquakes in Christchurch.

The recently added kitchen is awaiting installation of an oversized waterfall-and-basket chandelier.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

The recently added kitchen is awaiting installation of an oversized waterfall-and-basket chandelier.

In the upstairs foyer, a French Empire day bed from John Stephens antiques in Auckland has been upholstered in Ralph ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

In the upstairs foyer, a French Empire day bed from John Stephens antiques in Auckland has been upholstered in Ralph Lauren fabric; the Georgian bookcases came from Antiques Warehouse in Christchurch.

An old English slate clock sits atop a French polished Empire commode with a fossil stone top.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

An old English slate clock sits atop a French polished Empire commode with a fossil stone top.

The master bedroom leads to a large balcony overlooking the gardens.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

The master bedroom leads to a large balcony overlooking the gardens.

Tara-Jayne Stapleton and Carl Loader beneath some of the oak trees that survived the couple’s deciduous culling; when ...

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Tara-Jayne Stapleton and Carl Loader beneath some of the oak trees that survived the couple’s deciduous culling; when the leaves fall, they expose hidden birds’ nests – last year they counted 12.

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