Amy Yalland and her partner Jonty Valentine live in a self-renovated warehouse in Auckland, nestled between the fruit orchards of Oratia and the industrial skirts of Henderson. Steel roller doors, concrete floors and corrugated skylights hint at the building’s original intentions, while Amy and Jonty’s self-built wooden storage units, (which beautifully divide the space and allow for change and movement), a fireplace, and a collection of found and gifted household essentials, all work together to flesh out the industrial bones. Their open-plan living area was originally designed to host both their personal living space and a working environment for their graphic design studio, Index. The couple’s desks, printers, and archival works, sit alongside their ceramic kitchenware and woven rug. However, recently, the warehouse has had to softened even more so to make allowances for their most cherished addition, baby Juniper.
Your partner and yourself did all of the fit-out for your home which is very clever. Can you tell us about this process and what materials you decided to work with, and why.
4 years ago Jonty and I bought our warehouse with the dream to turn it into a live-work studio for our graphic design business that we run, Index. We ended up spending the next year demolishing all the internal offices and cleaning until we were left with a large main space, an open mezzanine and living quarters off to one side. After painting the whole space white with the help of my Dad (who is conveniently a housepainter), Jonty and I designed and built a series of modular ply storage units, some on wheels, which we use to divide up the space, and some floor-to-ceiling units for the kitchen and laundry. Jonty built them out of Gaboon ply, and I did the finishings. We use the three wheeled units in our studio day-to-day for printing materials, paper, finished prints and books.
What is your favourite feature of your home and how do you best enjoy it?
I love our macrocarpa staircase in our living room. Every time I relax in there, I look at it and notice another feature of the grain of the wood. We designed and built it together from locally milled timber sourced from a mill about 40 minutes drive from us. It’s nice to make something yourself, because you end up really valuing it, and also gain a practical understanding of how to repair it and make it last. We are wood people.
I love our macrocarpa staircase in our living room. Every time I relax in there, I look at it and notice another feature of the grain of the wood. We designed and built it together from locally milled timber sourced from a mill about 40 minutes drive from us.
I loved the mixture of self-made and found pieces throughout the home. What is your most treasured piece? Any story behind this?
Thank you. It’s difficult to choose one piece, because a lot of our ceramics are made locally by our friends and so have sentimental as well as aesthetic value. I have to mention our set of terracotta cooking-ware handmade by Jonty’s mother Jan Priestley, pieces which we use daily. I love the vessel which we serve salads in, her chicken brick which effortlessly cooks a tender bird, and her tagine for slow-cooked stews.
You work from home also, how do you manage the separation, or do you encourage an overlap?
Living and working in an open-plan space is great most days for me as a new Mum and graphic designer. Having ‘zones’ or areas for things helps with my productivity and with tidying, and having doors to hide things away until I have the time to attend to them is also crucial. Our space affords me both structure and flexibility, depending on my mood.
You have recently become a parents to Juniper. Has this space had to change at all to allow for a baby?
We bought a couch off a friend about a month after Juniper was born, which sits in the main space in front of our fireplace. That’s been essential for having a baby hang out in the main space, because I can see her and she can hear me, which comforts her. Apart from that we got a heat pump for our living spaces. Peace of mind for winter time.
How do you enjoy your local offerings?
We may live in a commercial warehouse, but it’s situated close to the outskirts of Henderson where it becomes rural. Oratia is fantastic with its orchards and a farmers market, which I visit every weekend for our grocery shop.
Do you have any morning rituals as a family?
Pancakes on Sundays, and slow wake-ups (fingers crossed). Jonty makes coffee and I have endless tall glasses of tea.
And how about bedtime rituals?
Self-care; washing my face and considering the day. We’ve just gotten our books, magazines and records into the lounge and in the evening, I like to ‘snack’ on the novels. I’m picky about style, but love to read.
What are your plans for summer?
We’re driving down South to the sunny shores of Diamond Harbour to stay with Jonty’s mother. She has a garden burgeoning with raspberries, baby peas, and gooseberries which I am excited to have Juniper try for the first time, since she has just started eating solids. I’m also looking forward to visiting Frances Nation in Christchurch city centre, a shop with the most beautiful NZ-made (and mostly handmade) wares. I designed the identity for the shop and haven’t been to see it yet.
She has a garden burgeoning with raspberries, baby peas, and gooseberries which I am excited to have Juniper try for the first time, since she has just started eating solids.