On Sunday afternoons you’ll almost always find Tatum Savage in the kitchen at parties – and these days she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Tatum Savage and her husband Gavin Pook had their kitchen designed to exacting standards and found it transformed their lives. “I hardly ever cooked,” says Savage. “Now I enjoy making nutritious food people like eating. This kitchen has changed me.” A sunny afternoon in early summer. Behind the classic weatherboard facade of a Ponsonby heritage home, adult laughter mingles with the shrieks of excited children and the odd pop of champagne corks. MAC Cosmetics communications manager Tatum Savage and her husband, Red Bull general manager Gavin Pook are hosting their traditional Sunday afternoon open home for friends and family. Pook is expertly working the barbecue; Savage serving piles of fresh, vibrantly coloured salads.
This is a recent luxury, thanks to a major renovation that significantly enlarged the footprint of their original, typically tiny worker’s cottage. Embracing the sunny northerly aspect and showcasing a miniature emerald jewel-box of a garden, the L-shaped extension contains open-plan living, dining and kitchen, pantry and laundry, as well as the sanctuary that is the master suite.
It has unexpectedly transformed the couple’s lives. As well as finally having the space to keep their two small children and numerous guests entertained, Savage has discovered a previously non-existent passion for cooking. “We used to go out four or five nights a week,” she says. “I hardly ever cooked. Now, I enjoy making nutritious food that people like eating. I’ve developed the confidence to experiment with different dishes and even create my own. This kitchen has changed me.”
Savage gazes around the sleek kitchen she and Pook devised together. He contributed the ergonomic layout and they both paid fastidious attention to detail. The Servo-Drive drawers, for example, open and close with the gentlest touch. “I can be holding a baby in one hand, a plate of food in the other and open a drawer with my knee.”
The stovetop is an induction model because that’s the safest option when toddlers are nearby and the oven is self-cleaning since, as Savage confesses, “I’ve never cleaned one in my life and wasn’t about to start now.” She was “instantly drawn” to the pale, marble–effect Italian tiles, and chose matt black man-made stone for the bench because it’s beautiful, but also because it is hard-wearing and low maintenance. This considered approach to every design decision has resulted in a home that is as practical as it is stylish.
The concrete floor that sweeps through the new extension harmonises perfectly with the airy Scandinavian palette of whites and soft greys accented with black and pale wood. It’s also the only sensible flooring option when one of the homeowners is an unapologetic stiletto fiend. “I love to wear heels. My friends love to wear heels. Wooden floorboards don’t stand up to that kind of treatment, and asking visitors to take their shoes off at the front door isn’t very hospitable. So, we went with concrete.”
Just as much thought has gone into the furniture. The couple has carefully selected pieces that seem to float, revealing the floor and enhancing the feeling of lightness and volume. The Magis Stool One bar stools lining the kitchen island, where guests congregate while Savage and Pook cook, are spare and elegant. Their geometric lines are reflected in a sculptural Nathan Goldsworthy steel coffee table, which was powder-coated to the couple’s specifications.“We own a lot of custom pieces,” Savage observes. “Most of them are made by friends. We couldn’t find a decent table that would seat 10 – we have a big extended family – so we designed one ourselves and furniture designer Sam Lennon’s father, Peter, built it for us.”
The children’s rooms are stylish and simple. Throughout the house custom pieces made by friends and those bought from local stores are displayed. We walk-in wardrobe off the master bedroom is another custom job by Lennon. Again, it was planned to their precise requirements. From a bespoke ensuite that whispers “boutique hotel” to two of the most chic children’s bedrooms you’ll ever see, fashion influences abound. An oversized photograph taken on a Marissa Findlay shoot hovers serenely above occasionally raucous parties in the dining area. The walls and floors feature clever combinations of contrasting textures and tactile finishes. Even Savage’s notorious addiction to wearing head-to-toe black has found a new form of expression. With a flourish, she opens the door to a dramatic all-black main bathroom.
The couple’s heritage home has been given a new lease on life and an extension, which has an airy Scandanavian palette of whites and soft greys punctuated with black and pale wood. The floors are concrete – a practical solution for Savage’s stiletto obsession. “I love to wear heels,” she says. “My friends love to wear heels. Wooden floorboards don’t stand up to that treatment.” Her love of black has also been expressed – in the main bathroom.
“Gavin and I look to fashion for a lot of our decorating ideas,” explains Savage. “I support New Zealand designers like Zambesi, Juliette Hogan and Stolen Girlfriends. It’s the same with interior design. We like to buy from local shops like Simon James, where we sourced our modular couch and pendant lights.” They are also fans of New Zealand artists and use large-scale works to inject colour and kinetic energy into the neutral decor. Gazing down at the ever-shifting throngs of guests, a striking portrait by Andrew Barns-Graham appears to silently approve of this coolly sophisticated, yet warmly inviting home. The title of the painting is a perfect, happy coincidence.
“Gavin bought her from the Sanderson Gallery as a surprise,” smiles Tatum. “Her name, it turns out, is Tatum.”
Words: Suzanne Winterflood
Photography: Michael Rooke