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On The Rise: Lucy Furniss' contemporary designed Classic Builders showhome

06 Sep, 2023

As the daughter of two furniture retailers, Lucy Furniss is no stranger to the world of interior design. At the age of 17, she became the youngest person to win at the New Zealand Interior Design Awards, two years in a row. This opened a world of opportunity for the Waikato-based teen, who went on to work in Australia designing for high-end hotels and retail spaces and then as a Colour Consultant for Resene here in New Zealand, gaining an abundance of connections along the way.

With 20+ years in the industry under her belt, Lucy now has her own business, offering comprehensive interior design services to clients nationwide. One of those being well-known construction group Classic Builders, with whom she worked in-house to design their brand new showhome in Cambridge. The brief – a large home in a newly established area, designed with family living in mind. Located on the outskirts of Cambridge, the neighbourhood of Pukekura sits within minutes of Lake Karapiro, famous for its stunning vistas and being the stage for a number of international sporting events.

Take a step into this functional yet beautiful house, soon to become a lucky someone’s place to call home. Complete with Quick-Step Perspective Nature Laminate floors, this space showcases the craftsmanship that goes into every Classic Builders home and a blueprint for Lucy’s expertise and impeccable eye for detail.

Tell us a little about your business and what led you to interiors?
I was essentially born into the world of interior design, with my parents establishing a furniture store when I was 4 years old. Naturally, I discovered my own passion for the industry and entered my first competition at the age of 17. I became the youngest winner at the New Zealand Interior Design Awards two years in a row, which is when the doors began to open. After school, I moved to Australia and landed a job for a well-known design company, designing fit-outs for hotels and retail spaces. Upon returning to New Zealand, I was offered a position at Resene, as a Colour Consultant for their Waitako & Coromandel territories. This is where I began building my client base with local architects, builders and homeowners and completed several award-winning projects.

After 8 years with Resene, I decided to branch out on my own, starting Lucy Furniss Design in 2016. Based in Waikato, I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over New Zealand, offering in-person and remote interior design services. Working with builders, architects and contractors, providing schedules, plans and processes to bring projects from conception to fruition. Offering a full service allows me to be involved in the entire process, from flooring and material selections, kitchen and bathroom designs, to choosing lighting, furniture and window furnishings. I have always believed that interior design runs deeper than the finished aesthetic – it’s about how the space will function, what emotions it evokes and what future memories can be created.

What was the creative vision that you had for this project?
For the Cambridge Classic Builders showhome, my main vision was for it to be a natural, inviting and timeless space, appealing to a wide range of people and reflective of the rural lifestyle. I set myself a goal to not use any black in the material selections, instead opting for soft metals and darker timbers for contrast. Designed with a large family in mind, I wanted to create spaces that had their own unique touch – a place to call their own.

How did you come to select the flooring?
Around the time of choosing the flooring, Quick-Step had just released their Perspective Nature Laminate range. I already had a plan for the kitchen materials and had a light brown, muted colour in mind for the flooring. Patina Oak Brown was the perfect fit — not too light, with a beautiful amount of natural character to it, allowing it to be a showpiece of it’s own. Laminate was an obvious choice for this project as it has all the beauty of a real timber floor, but with a low maintenance, durable finish, perfect for family living.

What was important for your flooring choice?
The hard flooring was going into the large open living, dining and kitchen space. Quick-Step Perspective Nature Laminate offered a wider plank to visually fill the space, and a ‘HydroSeal’ water resistant surface to withstand spills and messes. Being scratch resistance was key, as the house is going to be a showhome for 2 years, before being sold to be someone’s home. Quick-Step Laminate Flooring ticked all the boxes and then some, so was a no-brainer for this project.

Top tips for those that are embarking on a build or renovation?
Planning is key. The more prepared you are, the smoother your project will run. Leaving this to the last minute will often result in having to make compromises, delaying completion dates and ultimately blowing your budget. If you are not confident in making selections for yourself, I highly recommend engaging an Interior Designer. In the long run, they can save you time, stress and money, and bring with them connections within the industry. Having a network of reliable contractors at your fingertips will ensure things run effectively and smoothly, ultimately allowing you to enjoy the process.

What area would you recommend you save or splurge on when building or renovating?
Flooring is always worth splurging on. It’s the foundation of every space, and the most highly used surface in your home. Compromising on quality will be reflected in the years to come. Hard flooring is often overlooked, but it’s crucial to get it right. Durability and performance is so important, taking into consideration how the space is going to be used, and the occupants of the home. You’ll never regret opting for a higher quality floor that lasts 10+ years, rather than one that looks terrible after 6 months. I encourage all of my clients to really understand the properties and warranties of the flooring we select, and why I do and don’t recommend each one.

Do you have a forecast for flooring and design trends?
I am still seeing a strong pull towards natural looking timber floors – both dark and light, depending on the space. With the cost of living on the rise, people need to be of mindful of making selections that are timeless and not super trend based. It’s becoming more and more important to be using products that are gentle on the environment, and as climate change happens around us, we need to be taking a closer look at what we can do to reduce the effects.

Who do you admire in the New Zealand design and creative space?
We are so lucky in New Zealand to have so many incredibly talented people within the design and creative industries. I particularly love the work of Annique Davey of Gezellig Interiors, and Michael Murray Studio’s beautiful kitchen designs.

Where are you shopping and sourcing from?
I am a strong supporter of using local suppliers and artisans, but understand budget needs to be considered. I source my materials, furniture and homewares from a broad range of suppliers across wholesalers, retailers and artists across New Zealand.

Do you have any other exciting projects on the go?
I’m currently working on an exciting bespoke Airbnb in Ben Ohau which is nearing completion and two new showhomes, due to begin construction later this year. I’m always plugging away at a few projects at once, which keeps me on my toes and the creativity flowing.


Interior Designer: Lucy Furniss Design
Showhome: Classic Builders
Where: Cambridge
Photographer: Olivia Pitcher

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