Art House: Making your apartment your own

A decade ago, a Christchurch couple traded their five-bedroom home for an apartment at Ockham’s The Isaac. They’ve never looked back.

The large, light-filled kitchen was a huge drawcard for Tina and Mark Ross when they were looking at buying their apartment at The Isaac in 2013. This wasn’t just because they both love to cook and entertain guests, but because the space could double as an art studio for Tina.

“So many of the kitchens we saw in other apartment buildings were so pokey,” Tina says. “Not really big enough for cooking in and certainly not big enough to paint in!” She laughs: “I’ve spent many hours at that kitchen bench — mixing paint, experimenting and then changing my mind completely. Some of my favourite works have taken shape here.”

The glamour of deep purple

Tina’s bold abstract and landscape paintings are built on a layering process of colour and texture and she has added similar artistic touches to the couple’s two-bedroom apartment.

“I love playing with colour,” she says. “With the apartment, we painted the back walls of the kitchen black to add some contrast; included some beautiful deep purple in the lounge; and I’ve thrown in some different textures, like the wallpaper. Of course, there’s also a lot of artwork around the place, not all of it mine!”

Both Tina and Mark say it wasn’t easy to choose which furniture would make the cut to be included in the apartment. “We moved from a five-bedroom house in Christchurch,” Mark explains, “so we had to get rid of two-thirds of our furniture. That certainly wasn’t easy. But this place was a lot bigger than the other apartments we’d been looking at. Plus, we’ve got a storage locker, so we could take our time parting with some things.”

Rooftop rituals (and faux exercise)

For Mark, it was the fully landscaped community rooftop lounge that clinched the deal at The Isaac. “It was the roof that got me. Pre-Covid, every Saturday and Sunday I would go up there at some point to either lie in the sun, make it look like I was exercising, or just take myself, my music and my beer or wine and park up.

“There’s a group of us that had drinks there every Sunday as part of a community ritual. We’d go head up there, enjoy a wine and soak up that amazing view.”

Tina agrees that a big part of The Isaac’s appeal lies in the camaraderie of the residents. “We’d heard that people don’t talk to each other in apartment buildings. But actually, it’s a very warm, social environment. People are always organising group events or barbecues to get people engaged. There’s a real mix of ages here and there's a few people who are on their own, so it’s nice for everyone to enjoy monthly drinks or a twice-annual event.”

Proximate to Ponsonby

Their apartment comes with a carpark and Tina does own a car but confesses it’s really just a shopping trolley. “I walk everywhere. It’s a 20-minute walk to Ponsonby or 40 minutes into the city. I can just stroll to the West Lynn shops or to dinner at Lokanta. I really only use my car for the grocery run. It’s funny because when we moved from Christchurch, we initially thought The Isaac was too far from the city. I can’t believe we thought that now.”

After eight years at The Isaac, the couple currently have their home on the market, but will remain part of the Ockham family as they’ve bought an apartment off the plans in The Greenhouse in Ponsonby. As Tina puts it: “For someone like me, who has a deep love of colour and beautiful designs, a home in a building made with 150,000 green-glazed bricks is simply impossible to resist.”

It was the roof that got me. Every Saturday and Sunday I would go up there at some point to either lie in the sun, make it look like I was exercising, or just take myself, my music and my beer or wine and park up.

Isaac resident, Mark Ross