Your Home and Garden - Artist in Residence

August 13, 2018

Just out this week in NZ's Your Home & Garden magazine - chatting about my favourite room where I work and play  ... 



Artist in Residence

For flora photographer Emma Bass, home is where the art, and heart, is.

Auckland artist Emma Bass lives in a 1950s house in Mt Eden, with her two children, aged 17 and 9, a cat called Doormat and a cockatiel called Kowhai. Simple on the outside, but an oasis of flourishing creativity on the inside, Emmas says it’s a functional, comfortable and heartwarming home for her to work and play in. She’s lived in the kitset house for 15 years and has just remodelled the original fireplace in her lounge, to give the home a bit more soul.

What do you love about your home?The minute I walked into the house it felt like home. It has a sense of an open light space and easy functioning areas. I used to live across the road and I befriended the previous owners. Whenever I came over for dinner I felt like I was in a timeless space. Luckily, when the owners moved on, we were offered the house as a private sale. It is my sanctuary, a loving home for my children and where I create my artworks. There is a wonderful community here in the old neighbourhood style of children running between houses. I love my neighbours! 

Why is this room so important to you? I see my lounge as the beating heart of my home. Everything I choose to put in it gives me joy and pleasure. Somehow the busy life that surrounds me in the space gets infused into my works. My artwork creations happen amongst all of this on a very humble ledge surrounded by the constant flow of life and people in my lounge. My work appears to be done in a studio, but in actual fact, it’s done in amongst the swirl of chaotic life. 

How would you describe your interior style? My style is eclectic and colourful. I have carried on the mid-century design aesthetic with my choice of furniture, such as my retro buttoned velvet lounge suite, an original Danske Mobler dining suite, G Plan coffee tables, and George Nelson lamps. One of the drawbacks of a 50s house is because of the many large windows there isn’t a huge amount of wall space to hang art. I have been collecting art since I was 19-years-old and I would like to hang more than I do!

What’s your favourite thing to do in the room? There are many things that happen in this room.  People gathering, children playing, yoga sessions, work, and lots of creation. I love it being full of good people laughing and filling it with life. It’s a pivotal part of the house. Because the lounge is north facing and has giant windows, it is bathed in all day sun. On winter evenings our glowing open fire becomes the soul of the room. I just wish I had more time to sit and stare into space and enjoy some quietness. One day….

Tell us about your fireplace. It is a squared brick style fireplace typical of the 1950s with a raised hearth and the focal point of my lounge. It used to be original raw bricks and I have struggled for years over remaining a purist, but it was time for a change. I painted it three different colours before I settled on Resenes Half Pavlova. It’s calming and sets off my new hearth, which is an exquisite Indian marble in earth shades of green and brown and sits like a jewel in the middle of my lounge. It jumped out at me when I was searching for stone at Italian Stone. It was the perfect fit.

What are your favourite homeware pieces in the lounge? Well, of course, I would have to say my vases. I have a vast collection, which I have amassed from all over the world. I used to scour second-hand stores, but have found these diminishing due to online selling becoming more prevalent. I am now an Ebay aficionado… something I have to temper a bit as I’m running out of space in my house.  I love the fact that the vase’s display cabinet cost just $30 on Trade Me.

Are there any homeware stores or markets you frequent in particular?My brother and his family live in Nelson so whenever I visit them I visit a few good little antique stores I know of down there.  Richmond has a few gems where I often make a purchase, and Eclectic Antiques in the centre of Nelson is brilliant also.

What is the colourway in this room? The walls in my lounge are simple and white. The white is called Seafog and is a good neutral tone to offset all the colour and complexities going on in the room. We have a very old height chart on one of the walls, which is stopping me freshening up the room with a lick of paint.

Do you change the decor in this room often? Not often, but I do keep adding more to the room.  I have recently added a lovely couple of couches I had made by Forma. They are my favourite colour of bluey green and are a peaceful place to sit. I couldn’t resist sprinkling them with floral cushions - I found some special cushions from Timorous Beasties and Liberties. Cushions are a great way to add a unique touch to a room. I usually have large arrangements of flowers, which can change the mood of the space depending on the size and colour. 

If someone reading this story is thinking about redecorating their own living room, what would be your advice to them? Surround yourself with decor that makes you happy. Don’t try and prescribe to a formula. Make it about you and your personality. It should be your sanctuary! 


Emma Bass’s new artworks, along with that of three other artists, can be found at the Flower Show exhibition held at The Parnell Gallery, Auckland, from September 11- 25.