The value of interior styling and staging for your home - People NZ
The value of interior styling and staging for your home

The value of interior styling and staging for your home

Stylists and home staging experts Katie Salter and Natalie van Peer tell how their shared love of beautiful spaces saw the creation of their business, Ash Road, and why the spaces we spend time in should be thoughtfully considered.

Words by Cassie Birrer

Ash Road's Natalie van Peer believes that while home staging hasn’t always been fully appreciated in New Zealand, in the past few years there has been a shift – with sales numbers showing both homeowners and professionals that it's an important aspect to the outcome of any space.

“We really are seeing a trend towards both agents and homeowners really understanding and valuing the investment in good, high-end home staging,” she says.

And it's more than that, Katie Salter adds: “We don’t think it’s frivolous to care about how you live in your home. Our environment impacts how we feel, the version of ourselves we take out into the world every day and we truly have seen people transform not just their homes but their lives through being a bit more deliberate about the spaces they spend their time in.”

We asked the Ash Road co-founders some questions to find out what inspires them and their approach to design.

We truly have seen people transform not just their homes but their lives through being a bit more deliberate about the spaces they spend their time in.
Natalie van Peer and Katie Salter.

AP: How did Ash Road come about?

Katie: We met at the park with our kids and just immediately warmed to each other. We kept bumping into one another at kid’s activities and chatted about projects we were doing and selling houses. I was selling my house and hadn’t seen home staging that I would use myself. We chatted about the combination of joining to do both client and project work as well as creating a specialised curated home staging service.

Natalie: It was a chance encounter really, and it’s incredible to stop and look around sometimes and really appreciate what we have managed to build together. In the early days it was a couple of projects we had in mind to do together, and it really just grew from there. It grew naturally, and at about a million miles an hour!

It’s incredible to stop and look around sometimes and really appreciate what we have managed to build together.
"Our connection on the design front is really one in a million – we will walk into a space and know instantly what we want to do," says Natalie.

AP: You both come from quite different career backgrounds. What was your journey like into interior design?

Katie: As it has been said – very organically. For myself, it was doing interior work for my husband’s commercial projects whilst on maternity leave from being a physiotherapist, as well as building our own houses which I quickly realised I was hugely passionate about. Meeting Nat and sharing so much alignment in terms of ideas, style and design made it a seamless transition.

Natalie: Yes we came from really different backgrounds – I was a lawyer – but we both just naturally enjoy design. We are not formally trained at all, and it sounds simple, but really we just like what we like. The learning curve the last few years has been steep and we are forever learning and improving. Even though our backgrounds in law and physio seem unrelated, it’s crazy what skills are transferrable. We are lucky in that we were able to turn a real love and hobby into a thriving, viable business that we adore working in and on.

Natalie says that they are seeing a trend towards both agents and homeowners really understanding and valuing the investment in quality home staging.

AP: How do you approach each new project?

Natalie: Whether it’s a client’s project or home staging or our own property projects, we really just feel our way through it. We start with the big ideas and vision, we discuss themes and broadly what we want to achieve, and then we start filling in all of the details. Our connection on the design front is really one in a million – we will walk into a space a know instantly what we want to do. When we come together to talk about it, we are luckily always on the same page. 

Even though our backgrounds in law and physio seem unrelated, it’s crazy what skills are transferrable.

AP: What inspires your designs?

Katie: Overall we just love a mix of earthy and raw materials. Mostly I seek inspiration from both Australian and Japanese designers – a kind of warmed up minimalism, with refined colour mixes and understated forms in combination with really practical design solutions. This design direction is seen by use of an abundance of natural materials and layers of texture in all our staging installs as well as our design work.

"Mostly I seek inspiration from both Australian and Japanese designers – a kind of warmed up minimalism, with refined colour mixes and understated forms in combination with really practical design solutions," says Katie.
Natalie and Katie always gravitate towards spaces that have natural colours and materials.

AP: What are you loving in interiors right now?

Katie: Earthy, natural colours and materials – pared back but warm and welcoming.

Natalie: It’s hard to go past what Katie has said above. We always gravitate towards space that encompass these things. For me personally I also love dark, moody spaces. I’m not obsessed with making everything light and bright and white. A dark room on the south side of a house should embrace being dark – those magical spaces to escape to can be bliss. This can work really well for transforming certain spaces in homes we stage, too.

Natalie's top styling tip: "Don’t be boring but don’t over do it."
A dark room on the south side of a house should embrace being dark – those magical spaces to escape to can be bliss.
"I also love dark, moody spaces," shares Natalie. "I’m not obsessed with making everything light and bright and white."

AP: What’s your top styling tip?

Katie: Loads of warmth and texture, but keeping things simple.

Natalie: The million-dollar question. Don’t be boring but don’t over do it. Find an expert to help you get the balance right – it’s so hard to be objective about your own home and spaces. Most of our staging clients ask us back for help with their new homes after having stages their homes for sale.

AP: What do you love most about what you do?

Katie: The freedom for creativity, the beautiful things and homes we are privileged to work with and in and the vast range of exciting opportunities that keep arising. We both feel lucky to have found this shared pathway that we enjoy working on every day and we are super grateful we work so well together.

Natalie: Nothing beats a happy client or vendor at the end of a successful campaign or project. We never take those moments for granted. And also on the practical side, the way we are able to make all of this work in amongst busy family life is really great. Someone once said to us they quit a 40-hour a week corporate job to get more time freedom working for themselves – and they now work an 80-hour a week job. While it is a lot of work, it’s on our own terms and doing something that we love. And as cliché as it is, if you love what you’re doing it’s not really work.

Katie and Natalie have worked on a number of stunning properties across Auckland.

AP: What’s next for Ash Road? Are there any exciting projects in the works?

Katie: Finishing my house – it’s been a big one! We are also looking forward to some Ash Road property projects. 

Natalie: We have worked really hard on building the home staging side of our business. We are really excited about doing some more property projects of our own. There are some exciting things in the pipeline for Ash Road over the next 12 months.

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