Inside story: Cruz Jimenez

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Cruz in his lounge. Furniture includes the Liquid Birch carpet by Moooi.

Cruz in his lounge. Furniture includes the Liquid Birch carpet by Moooi. Image: David St George

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Antique model Air New Zealand plane bought in Los Angeles.

Antique model Air New Zealand plane bought in Los Angeles. Image: David St George

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Cruz’s home. He and his partner have focused most of their renovations on the exterior. 

Cruz’s home. He and his partner have focused most of their renovations on the exterior.  Image: David St George

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Jimmy the dog.

Jimmy the dog. Image: David St George

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Art, books and homewares are an essential part of Cruz’s collection.
 

Art, books and homewares are an essential part of Cruz’s collection.   Image: David St George

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Taxidermy and other nature-influenced decor. 

Taxidermy and other nature-influenced decor.  Image: David St George

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Arthur the dog.

Arthur the dog. Image: David St George

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Paintings: “These are the first real pieces of art that I have owned. They’re by Andrew Barns-Graham. One is based on his grandfather and the other his nurse – I like to make up my own story for what it’s about.”

Paintings: “These are the first real pieces of art that I have owned. They’re by Andrew Barns-Graham. One is based on his grandfather and the other his nurse – I like to make up my own story for what it’s about.” Image: David St George

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Books: “The Thoreau book is simply beautiful, the paper, the text, everything. I found it in New York in 1993, 90 years after it was printed, and it’s gone everywhere with me ever since.”

Books: “The Thoreau book is simply beautiful, the paper, the text, everything. I found it in New York in 1993, 90 years after it was printed, and it’s gone everywhere with me ever since.” Image: David St George

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Glass cloche: “Sometimes you can’t always afford the things you want. This piece was made by Luke Jacomb, and I traded a couple of paintings for it. It’s just an object I fell in love with.”

Glass cloche: “Sometimes you can’t always afford the things you want. This piece was made by Luke Jacomb, and I traded a couple of paintings for it. It’s just an object I fell in love with.” Image: David St George

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Coffee cups: “I didn’t want to buy something off the shelf, and I just love bespoke. These are by Issac Katzoff, he’s from the United States but works in Grey Lynn.”

Coffee cups: “I didn’t want to buy something off the shelf, and I just love bespoke. These are by Issac Katzoff, he’s from the United States but works in Grey Lynn.” Image: David St George

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5 Wine glasses: “They were a set of 12, a few have been broken, usually when we’re cleaning them. They’re made by Luke Jacomb, and every single one of them is different.”

5 Wine glasses: “They were a set of 12, a few have been broken, usually when we’re cleaning them. They’re made by Luke Jacomb, and every single one of them is different.” Image: David St George

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Cologne: “Scent is important, and I just like the shape of the bottle. It’s a simple aroma, nothing too overpowering. I got my first bottle as a gift from Simon & Jones two Christmases ago.”

Cologne: “Scent is important, and I just like the shape of the bottle. It’s a simple aroma, nothing too overpowering. I got my first bottle as a gift from Simon & Jones two Christmases ago.” Image: David St George

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Tag watch: “I got this for my 40th birthday, and it’s exactly my kind of styling. I like the weight of it. It has presence, but it’s not too flash; understated bling.”

Tag watch: “I got this for my 40th birthday, and it’s exactly my kind of styling. I like the weight of it. It has presence, but it’s not too flash; understated bling.” Image: David St George

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Rings: “I like classic, I like traditional, and black onyx is both. The griffin I got in Ponsonby. It caught my eye, and I had to have it.”

Rings: “I like classic, I like traditional, and black onyx is both. The griffin I got in Ponsonby. It caught my eye, and I had to have it.” Image: David St George

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Wooden Christ: “This was my great-grandmother’s, it used to hang on a plaster cross. It went to his mother, then after she died, a lot of people felt a bit spooked by it, so I got to keep it.”

Wooden Christ: “This was my great-grandmother’s, it used to hang on a plaster cross. It went to his mother, then after she died, a lot of people felt a bit spooked by it, so I got to keep it.” Image: David St George

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Skultuna bottle: “I like how this ages. It’s brass, so it gets that patina over time. Then if I get tired of that look, I just give it a polish and it’s back to new again. It’s lovely.”

Skultuna bottle: “I like how this ages. It’s brass, so it gets that patina over time. Then if I get tired of that look, I just give it a polish and it’s back to new again. It’s lovely.” Image: David St George

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Devout collector and artist Cruz Jimenez shows us his villa and some of the objects he loves.

Cruz Jimenez is an artist guided by instinct; if something feels right, then it is right. It’s how he found his way from Orange County, California, to New Zealand, how he found his home and it’s how he’s going about filling it: “I don’t care about buying things to fit, and I don’t know if it’s a need or just about appreciating beautiful, well-made things, but I buy what I want and then I make it work somewhere… and there’s always somewhere.”

Art, books and homewares are an essential part of Cruz’s collection.   Image:  David St George

His collection kicked off half a lifetime ago in New York when a junk shop vase caught his eye. “I’d been a glassblower, so I understood the work that had gone into it, the finishing, the etching, all hand done, and I guess I got the bug from that.” It wasn’t long before he became ‘the guy who collected things’, all manner of things – so birthdays and special occasions inevitably meant new additions and the need for new ‘somewheres’. Happily, his new home is bursting with them.

So when his awkwardly, oversized aluminium model of an old Air New Zealand DC8 (purchased in LA before he’d ever dreamed of living here) needed an appropriate runway to be properly displayed, the dining table seemed an obvious choice. It’ll be even more appropriate when the new bespoke table arrives.

This all helps explain why he was instantly attracted to his home. Not that it isn’t chocolate-box charming, it is –  it’s that, having been transplanted from Epsom to a neighbourhood between Herne Bay and Grey Lynn, it isn’t a natural fit with the surrounding ’50s and ’60s bungalows.

Taxidermy and other nature-influenced decor.  Image:  David St George

He’s lived in this four-bedroom, 255m2 villa with his partner, Vaughan, for just over a year, and while it was hardly a do-up – the previous owners intended it to be their long-term home but had to return south after a family illness – there was scope for a do-over. If the interior has benefitted from a modernising spruce, the emphasis has been on the exterior where they have managed to create a varied environment despite adhering to a strict green and white colour palette.

Out front, tight block plantings will eventually play with variations in greens and leafy textures while a planted pathway connects to an area behind the house where a Japanese theme dominates. Sure, they are pleasing on the eye, but they’re also potentially hard on the back; without regular maintenance they‘ll quickly get away on him.

5 Wine glasses: “They were a set of 12, a few have been broken, usually when we’re cleaning them. They’re made by Luke Jacomb, and every single one of them is different.” Image:  David St George

“That’s exactly what I wanted, plants I have to prune and areas I have to weed. It was a deliberate decision to force me to potter about in the garden. And we might not be big flower people, but everything here will be able to be used inside in some way as well.”

It’s perfectly in keeping with Cruz’s personal aesthetic. He likes to surround himself with beautiful things as long as they aren’t too flashy. His standard uniform is a T-shirt and jeans, no matter the occasion, offset by ‘crap’ in his hair and the understated bling of his favourite watch and chunky rings.

“I’ve had my artistic phases, the youthful phase, the depressed phase. Now I’m in my comfortable phase, and my home puts me at ease.”  


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