The Sitting Room: Sitting Pretty

Hanging out in The Sitting Room, chatting with owner Ming Stevens, feels a bit like being in someone's, well, sitting room.

It's so cosy in here Ming, it actually feels like being in someone's home!
So often customers say that they love the "feel" of the shop, and I think this lets them trust me to work with them.

How long have you owned The Sitting Room?
I opened eight years ago, on one of Remuera's market days.

And how would you describe what you do here?
The Sitting Room is primarily a soft furnishing business.  I specialise in selling NZ-made sofas and chairs, often with loose-covers and usually made to order.  I always have a vast selection of gorgeous cushions and I offer a comprehensive soft furnishing service.

sitting room cushions

Why do you think people recommend you?
As I am a small business and a bit hidden away down here in the lovely Village Green, I do depend on word of mouth.  I offer a personal service and go to great lengths to find what the customer is looking for.  So often customers become friends, and it is nice when they recommend me to others.

Do you have a style motto?
I firmly believe there's no point having something if it's not beautiful, of good quality.  And it doesn't need to have an exorbitant price tag.  I like to show people that you can have beautiful things without spending a fortune.

sitting room pear candles

Where do you source your fabrics?
I source it through local importers who bring in beautiful fabrics from around the world.  I also source product from my regular suppliers as well as finding new product from the trade shows both here and overseas.

Have you always had an interest in sewing and design?
I've always been quite crafty - I used to make lampshades by gluing string around a beach ball, then deflating it - I was doing these long before they became trendy!  I loved sewing when I was younger.  I made all my own clothes and even my sister's wedding dress.

sitting room blue cushions

So you could say you grew up in this field?
Well I actually trained as a radiographer!  But I feel like I've come full circle, as I originally started a home science degree at uni, and now I own a furniture and design shop.  For many years I was involved with Mainly Chairs in Ponsonby to a greater or lesser extent, while bringing up four children.

Do your children show any interest in the business?
They were all wonderful helping out when they were students, but now are all grown up and with their own jobs.  They quite like coming to trade shows and gift fairs with me, which is great as it gives me a younger perspective on things.  And of course they like the shop when they need things for their own homes!

What do you do in your spare time?
I can't quite remember what that is!  I am here six days a week (seven days close to Christmas) so I don't get a lot of spare time at the moment.  I still love swimming and cooking and always look forward to a trip to Taupo over the Christmas period when I close the shop.

sitting room bird coasters

What do you like most about working in Remuera?
Without sounding cliché, it's definitely the village atmosphere.  When I open up the shop in the mornings I can smile and say hello to 20 different people. It's a wonderful community.

Do you have future plans for The Sitting Room?
Everyone says you need an online presence, so with help from the IT department (aka the kids!) I'm working on a website for next year.

The Sitting Room
1A St Vincent Avenue, Remuera, Auckland 1050
Ph:  09 520 2200

Photos by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson

 sitting room cushions outside