Hawke’s Bay: Leanne Culy

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Leanne Culy, furniture and interior designer; artist.

Leanne Culy, furniture and interior designer; artist. Image: Jeff Brass

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Culy works on a design her large Napier studio.

Culy works on a design her large Napier studio. Image: Jeff Brass

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Culy has a modern take on a vintage aesthetic.

Culy has a modern take on a vintage aesthetic. Image: Jeff Brass

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Fabrics designed by Culy.

Fabrics designed by Culy. Image: Jeff Brass

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Lightshades designed by Culy in her large, home studio.

Lightshades designed by Culy in her large, home studio. Image: Jeff Brass

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A pegboard sideboard on display in Culy's shop, Home Base Collections, in Napier.

A pegboard sideboard on display in Culy’s shop, Home Base Collections, in Napier. Image: Jeff Brass

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The painted oars for which Culy is best known.

The painted oars for which Culy is best known. Image: Jeff Brass

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Culy's signature painted oars.

Culy’s signature painted oars. Image: Jeff Brass

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It was a house that lured Leanne Culy to Hawke’s Bay. Eight years ago, while in Napier for a holiday, Culy and her husband Brian saw that the sprawling 150-year-old villa they now own was for sale. Once they’d purchased it, they packed up their two children and the possessions in their Kerikeri home and headed south for good.

Culy now works out of a studio on the ground floor of the Bluff Hill house and has a small shop, named Home Base Collections, in her repurposed garage. The 50-year-old is best known for her painted oars, but the store is stocked with her furniture (pegboard sideboards, hand-cast ceramic lamps and tin hanging lamps), cushions and a range of lovely fabrics in washed-out, soothing colours. (There are rugs and fine art created by other makers too.)  “I love clean and timeless. I don’t like faddish things,” says Culy. “My colours symbolise the simplicity of how we used to live and I want that to come through in the fabrics.”

Over the past few years, Culy has also taken on interior design commissions from locals who want to infuse their homes with her modern take on a vintage aesthetic. “I don’t ever really stick to one thing,” she confesses. “I like making art; I love potting plants in pots; I love designing furniture. That’s how I do things. I know artists who get up and paint and have lunch and paint and have a rest and paint, but I have never been like that. 

“I’ve never lived in a place with so many amazing, creative people: really clever people,” says Culy of Hawke’s Bay. “It used to be a rural town but there’s many more interesting things happening now. People are moving back here. The restaurant scene is changing, which is great. It’s on the cusp.”

Culy recommends:

  • A trip to Waipatiki Beach
  • Visiting Napier’s renovated Museum, Theatre, Gallery.
  • A Sunday morning spent at Hastings Farmers’ Market.

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