Erena Te Paa is a Freelance Stylist & Writer based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Captivated by her beautiful house and eye for design, we asked Erena to share with us her top tips for curating a home, how she inspires creativity within her workspace and the ways in which she nurtures herself through self-care.
Hi Erena! Tell us a little about yourself and what you do
Hi! I am a freelance stylist and writer based in Hamilton, New Zealand where I live with my husband and two boys. To add another string to my bow, I also run an Airbnb and when time allows, I love to apply my love for design to styling a room in my home, which by the way is a forever renovation project!
Can you share with us a bit about your journey working in the creative industry - where did it begin?
I have always been creative by nature, but I never actively pursued a truly creative job until I decided a year into a PR role that I wanted to change careers. The switch paid off and I ended up in fashion merchandising before a one-day opportunity to work alongside a stylist turned into a full-time job as one. First in fashion styling and then much later I took the plunge and went out on my own working as a stylist in fashion, interior and product styling as well as copywriting.
Erena wears the Tala Pant in Sepia.
What are some of your favourite pieces in your home, and where did they come from?
I have a soft spot for furniture so the sofas and chairs in my home are probably my most loved, namely as they offer a comfy place to sit but they're all second-hand and have been reworked in some way whether that's with new upholstery or by slightly altering the design. I like pieces that tell a story or that require a little bit of tlc.
What materials, textures and colours are you drawn to?
Earthy neutrals like taupe, cream, black and warm-based whites are my go-to but ultimately I enjoy these colours most as I have always found them to be very calming to live in. Having said this, I also appreciate that these tones can sometimes be quite plain so bringing in texture really does help to lift a neutral space. I'll often find myself gravitating toward stone, concrete, woven and wood textures but really nothing is off-limits. I just think that if it works, it works!
You have a beautiful selection of artworks around your home, can you tell us about some of your favourites?
Thank you! I am slowly working at building a collection of prints and paintings that have been created by people I know or whose work/talent I admire. Some of my favourites include a large abstract painting in our studio by my friend and stylist Gemma Adams of Blackbird Goods, an original geometric-inspired painting by artist Bobby Clark and various prints by NZ designer Samantha Totty. I like artwork that is both modern and versatile as I tend to change up my spaces quite a bit.
Can you share with us your top tips for curating a home you want to spend time in?
First and foremost, it would be to get to know your home and your most favourite spots or corners. Where do you like to sit? Where does the sunlight stream in? What parts feel most cosy? And then plan your furniture and furnishings around accentuating those places so that you and your family or guests can enjoy them in the same way you like to enjoy them. I would also say, take your time to find pieces you love, and your space will feel like a true reflection of who you are, nothing will feel unresolved and hopefully, you won't want to leave.
Tell us about your workspace - in what ways does it inspire creativity?
My office used to be a quirky lean-to which we later enclosed and while it is accessed off the main living area it still manages to feel removed, in a good way. The roof is partially clear which makes it a great suntrap and if I'm cooped up inside on a dreary day, it always feels bright and uplifting. I've also filled the space with textural objects and pieces that inspire me creatively.
What do you love most about your neighbourhood, can you share with us your favourite places to eat/shop/visit?
I love that where we live strikes the balance of being central but also fairly secluded with native trees and streams close by. My favourite spots to eat are Hayes Common or Camarosa for lunch or dinner, Gothenburg and Mr Pickles for tapas and I love to pop into Whole heart in Queenwood for treats namely Kombucha and chocolate! Remains To Be Scene is a great spot for second-hand treasures, Needle in The Hay for locally made homewares and The Flower Crate in Lovegrove Lane for beautiful flowers and gifts.
In what ways are you supporting your favourite locals during these uncertain times?
These are certainly unsettling times for everyone and while I know it is for the health and wellbeing of all I also empathise with a lot of people, especially those who have lost their jobs, livelihoods or who are just feeling very anxious and vulnerable right now. Before the lockdown, I made a point of buying some last-minute gifts from local stores and I still hope to do this even though postal services have halted. My husband works in the hospitality sector and while he has been unable to operate he is still incredibly proactive, looking after his team and also securing extra work in other sectors for those that need it. I am an optimist at heart and believe that a positive mindset is key, so no matter what, I do not forget that I have a lot to be grateful for, I try to find the good in every day and I also think that staying connected to your favourite people in all forms, is an opportunity to give and be supported.
What are you reading, watching, and listening to at the moment?
Being a lover of all things home, I am enjoying reading the Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking and also a lover of Netflix, I have just devoured Love is Blind - something I wasn't sure I'd like, but ended up loving and I always find myself coming back to the Black Mirror series or alternatively a crime documentary.
How do you like to nurture yourself; do you practice any self-care rituals?
I’ve learned that the best self-care practices for me are usually done at the end of the day, when everyone’s asleep and I have the time to go a bit slower and take that opportunity to heal myself whether that's adding one more step to my otherwise simple skincare regime perhaps a nice hydrating face mask or serum and more recently I’ve started listening to meditations before bed which helps to switch off the overactive side of my brain so that I can hopefully fall asleep quicker and enjoy a better quality of sleep.
Photography by Alice Veysey