Liz Odey visits an art-filled apartment in Lyall Bay. Photography by Caroline Atkinson

Treasure Chest

Dean working at her desk, watched over by her Streisand unicorn portrait by artist Daif King

The outside view of the boatshed-inspired apartment. The teal tone of the house looks stunning against the backdrop of native New Zealand bush.

Anna's kitchen, which she admits doesn't get much use

Beautiful, vibrant flowers brighten up the room

Dean's upstairs lounge and office space feature an abundance of second-hand treasures

A signed photo of an anonymous 1980s actor who now watches Dean while she does the dishes

A collection of antique teaspoons lives on a wooden map of New Zealand in Dean's bedroom

The stairs lead past large glass windows that were built on site. The windows are huge and provide great light throughout the house

Picnic blanket at the ready and a treasured 80s TV3 boardgame 'Perfect Match'

Dean's wall is covered in fun pieces such as the "Computers" sign in the top corner, which she bought from her friend Joanna Langford at the Southern Landfill shop

Vintage animal masks bought from an op shop in Invercargill

  • Dean work­ing at her desk, watched over by her Streis­and uni­corn por­trait by artist Daif King

I could write a nov­el about Anna Dean’s home.

People say that your home is a reflec­tion of your per­son­al­ity, and Dean’s sense of humour is pre­val­ent through her taste in fur­niture and art­work. She admits, “I’m the type of per­son that people know will love receiv­ing an old over­head pro­ject­or as a gift.” From brains hid­ing in the fruit bowl, to phal­lic-shaped bottle open­ers, there is con­stantly some­thing fun to dis­cov­er in Dean’s humble abode. She describes watch­ing vis­it­ors’ eyes wander the room while she talks to them, tak­ing everything in. And with decor such as crochet porn, ‘pris­on art’, a Streis­and uni­corn por­trait and licked-through pic­tures of Mark Wahl­berg hold­ing a snake, who wouldn’t stare?

Dean moved into the Lyall Bay apart­ment five years ago. It was built by Tim Rose of Havana Cof­fee and his part­ner Helen Smyth off their main house over a dec­ade ago. The prop­erty had been a mater­nity hos­pit­al for many years, until it was con­ver­ted into a retire­ment home in the 1970s. Dean believes that when build­ing the apart­ment Rose and his buddy Wal­ter were inspired by the con­struc­tion meth­ods used in boat­sheds. Rose and Smyth ori­gin­ally ren­ted the apart­ment out to friends, with one pre­vi­ous ten­ant, artist Sam­antha Far­quhar, cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful mosa­ic on the deck. Now that Rose and Smyth have left Lyall Bay, Dean is extremely grate­ful that the new own­ers love the prop­erty just as much as she does and wanted to keep the apart­ment intact.

Dean hews to a simple philo­sophy when find­ing treas­ures to dec­or­ate her home. She says she’s not keen on fast fash­ion — regard­ing both cloth­ing and interi­ors — and avoids buy­ing any­thing new. She does, how­ever, strongly sup­port New Zea­l­and-made brands and emer­ging artists. “There is so much junk in the world already, why buy some­thing new when there is so much cool stuff to find?”

Dean describes the style of her home as “nos­tal­gic pop”, which fits the place per­fectly. She finds her treas­ures in places like op shops, land­fill shops, Trade Me, years of travel, and cre­ations made by artist­ic friends. Keep­ing an ear out for bar­gains such as the Enjoy Gal­lery ‘Buy 100’ sales is anoth­er great way she pur­chases art at afford­able prices.

Dean also uses the space as an office to run her own PR and pub­li­city busi­ness, which makes her sur­round­ings espe­cially import­ant. Plants and ter­rari­ums help lend the space a fresh and lively feel, while art pieces made and col­lec­ted from friends give the sense that her mates are always close by, even when she’s work­ing all the time. After pre­vi­ously liv­ing in places like Ori­ent­al Bay, Mt Cook and even Ber­lin, Dean found the move out to Lyall Bay nerve-rack­ing at first as she wasn’t used to liv­ing alone. Luck­ily for her, one of the best parts about Lyall Bay is the sense of com­munity that the area brings. There are always people out enjoy­ing the beach, rain or shine, and reg­u­lar ‘freel­ance Fri­day’ drinks with her fel­low self-employed friends are a great end to a busy week. And the next thing on Dean’s agenda? Find­ing more wall space.

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