Gracious Living: Designs on You

When asked what he likes about working in Remuera, Tom Davies of Gracious Living freely admits that not having to go through a single set of traffic lights to get to work is a definite plus.  

But he also loves the fact that everyone knows everyone here in Remuera - it's a real community.

How long has Gracious Living been in the family?
My parents started the company 35 years ago!  Dad - Trevor - originally worked at AJ Whites (now McKenzie and Willis) in Christchurch, then in the late 70s he was transferred to Auckland to manage Sheraton House and Hurdleys.  My parents then started Gracious Living in 1981, and my wife Sue and I purchased the business in 2004.

And did you work in the business growing up, before you bought it?
No, I actually started working for a textile company before heading to England to work for the Liberty design and fashion company.  When I came back to New Zealand I worked in the travel industry before deciding that taking over Gracious Living was what I wanted to do.

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Do you work on-site every day?
Very much so, and if I'm not in the showroom I'll be out at appointments.  My parents gave me some very valuable advice in that if you want to own a company like Gracious Living where everything is custom-made, then you need to literally live and breathe the company.

And do you see your kids continuing the family business?
Hmmm, we'll have to see.  Polly is very creative, and of course being a teenager has some very definite opinions on what we do design-wise at home!  Toby's also quite creative but is more interested in having a career somewhere like Weta Workshop.  They're currently still at school though, so time will tell!

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So if you had to define Gracious Living's point of difference...?
Apart from having qualified and experienced interior designers, we truly offer a full comprehensive range of interior design services.  We have a showroom which displays over 60 different and exclusive New Zealand made furniture concepts which enable our team to ensure that our customers get exactly what they are after in terms of aesthetics, comfort and functionality.  We also manufacture on-site our curtains, cushions and accessories and have our own Technical Manager who installs all our window treatments.  So we really do have everything covered from initial discussion and design through to manufacturing and installation.

What are the latest trends that you're seeing?
Definitely more use of colour.  The clever use of layering textures and colours is being seen more and more.  Also the desire for New Zealand-made furniture is becoming evident.

Is there a particular style of home your furnishings work best in?
Well by default we work mostly in family homes.  We've done work in some of the smallest rural houses through to the largest of stately homes in the country.  But we've been doing a lot of work in modern homes and apartments, and I can only see this increasing in the near future.

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So you do out-of-towners?
Most of our work is here in Auckland, but a lot of our customers have houses in Waiheke, Coromandel, Omaha... and we've recently done work in the Hawkes Bay, Lake Rotoiti, Christchurch, Wanaka, Ashburton and as far up north as Doubtless Bay.  We will travel wherever we are asked to go!

Do you have any future plans for Gracious Living?
We're definitley keen to continue on as one of the leading design and furnishing companies in NZ for sure!  But yes, certainly to keep growing and to continue evolving to meet the market and design trends in this ever-changing industry.

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And finally, what do you do in your spare time?
Ha, what spare time?!  With teenagers in the house we spend a fair bit of time playing chauffeur running between sports, dance practice, parties... and aside from that, we're pretty partial to a bit of entertaining!

Gracious Living, 384-386 Remuera Road
Ph: 09 520 1735  www.graciousliving.co.nz

Photography by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson

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