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An inheritance of heritage

Anya Brighouse invites us inside one of her most rewarding design projects yet – helping to inject the new owners‘ style into their bequeathed home, while retaining the abode‘s charm and integrity

Words Anya Brighouse     Photography Larnie Nicolson

'KISMET' IS A Semetic word meaning fate, or meant to be. It’s also a word that should be written above the front door to Karl Berzins and Karin Reinink’s home – the home that once belonged to Karl’s godfather, Peter.

Even as a boy, Karl remembers thinking the house on One Tree Hill was a special place. “I was always excited to come up to Auckland to visit,” he says. “The palm and paw paw trees made it feel tropical and exotic – worlds away from foggy Hamilton. And the magical nighttime view from the lounge transported me to cities I had yet to visit.”

A displaced Latvian, Peter had arrived in New Zealand with Karl’s grandparents following World War II. He lived in Auckland for the rest of his life, passing away in 2006 and leaving his home to Karl in his will. 

Karl was living in London when he heard about his inheritance – and felt both surprised and blessed to be given such a generous gift. But, after coming back to see the house, Karl found it was not as he remembered it – Peter had been too ill in his later years to keep the place from falling into a state of disrepair. Karl was encouraged to either sell it as it was, or knock it down and start again. But, he says: “I couldn’t do that to a place that held so many memories”. 

To read further about how Karl and Karin have transformed a house into their home, pick up a copy of the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of homestyle. For more great homes and ideas homestyle's latest issue is available supermarkets and book stores nationwide.

ABOVE The Hemingway Diamond Wallpaper from the Paper Room sports royal portraits bought from the Addington Raceway Markets in Christchurch for $15.