New beat to an old tune

By Sarah Catherall
Photographed by Anna Briggs

Featured in Capital #74
Subscribe to get the real thing here.

Kali and Myles Gazely’s stately Khandallah home looks like something out of a fairytale. Resting behind huge iron gates in the suburb’s dress circle, the two-storey 1904 house is nestled in a lush garden on a flat 1,202-square-metre section. The 500-square-metre house was originally built for Wellington’s royalty – for Herbert Kirkcaldie, the second son of Kirkcaldie and Stains’ founder John.

Myles has been selling cars for more than three decades. He took over the family business Gazley Motors and now employs more than 135 staff. Kali is multi-talented: she performs as a Beat Girl, teaches yoga and pilates, and runs her own interior design consultancy, along with raising their three children: Cleopatra, 10, Daisy, 8, and Rollo, 5.

Myles roars into the driveway in one of his collectable cars. He explains he was drawn to the home’s size, and the triple garage, which he needs to store his cars, including two Ferraris and a 1972 classic Mercedes CSL they call “Brown’’.

When the homestead, Tranby House, came up for sale three years ago, the couple were living in an 1880s house they had renovated in Kaiwharawhara. Kali wanted a big home with a flat section for their children, within walking distance of a school. “Being from Hawkes Bay houses like this are normal to me in terms of size. There aren’t a lot of houses like this in Wellington,’’ she says. “I loved the fact it has so holds so much history and energy. I didn’t want to come in here and rip everything out.’’

One of the home’s previous owners had added an extension, which includes Rollo’s bedroom. Kali undertook an extensive renovation. Looking around, she says: “Everything the eye can see has been touched’’. She has always loved beautiful, feminine things, reflecting her personal style. “I pick a theme and try to follow it through the house. I was looking for a romantic luxe look. I like homes that are inviting.’’

“I like things to be beautiful but not over the top.’’ She is also influenced by theatre sets, spending a lot of time on stage singing and performing. One of six Beat Girls who take turns performing gigs around New Zealand, she did 25 shows from October to December last year. “It’s off the wall. It’s a slice of my old life before I had kids,’’ Kali smiles.

Growing up in Napier, Kali was on stage with the Napier Operatic Society from the age of 12, inspired by her maternal aunt, Delia Hannah, who has made a career out of musical theatre. It is as though her home is a stage set she is designing for both her family and a potential audience. “In the theatre, you have a blank canvas, and you can create anything out of nothing,’’ she says. “I like coming up with ideas that might not be obvious.’’

When decorating, she wanted to pay homage to the history of Tranby Homestead while  modernising it and giving it her personal touch. While the current fashion is to paint wood white, she has chosen to keep many of the original rimu ceilings, staircase features and window sills. She loves to mix old and new –  in the formal living room, Starck perspex chairs sit around an old-fashioned dining table. She also likes mixing metals.

Her favourite lime green is splashed through the house. A grand piano sits in one corner of the formal living room, with floral Christian Lacroix wallpaper along one wall.. “Myles saw the wallpaper and said we had to have it.’’

She has sourced the accessories through local stores where possible. Gold lamps sit beside the bed in her master suite, while two modern gold Matheny chandeliers gleam from the four-metre-high ceiling in the kitchen and open-plan family room.

A wall in the kitchen and living area is covered with with a floral wallpaper from Dutch designer Ellie Cashman. Gwyneth Paltrow has the same wallpaper in her house. Of the many plants in pots, Kali says: “I just had this romantic idea of having a greenhouse inside.’’

“Luckily my husband lets me put giant flowers on the wall because some husbands wouldn’t,’’ she laughs.

The Poggenpohl kitchen with a quartzite stone bench is the hub of the house, opening on to a return verandah and a fake grass lawn. She won’t follow trends. “I had the black kitchen 10 years ago before others did,’’ she says. They added a butler’s kitchen behind the main kitchen. “It was a nothing space. Now we can put mess behind there.’’

The homestead entrance is grand, with a fairytale quality. A huge 1954 painting by Leonard Mitchell is on one wall. “It was found rolled up in a rotting shed in a house in Khandallah. It’s probably a museum item,’’ says Kali, who loves art but will only buy what she likes rather than what is collectable.

At the top of the stairwell, huge mirrors reflect light from the windows. “These big houses weren’t built for light. That’s the challenge with any villa – trying to fill them with light,’’ she says.

Each bedroom has a balcony. While the windows drop almost to floor level, none of the bedroom balconies have doors, so you have to climb out a window to reach any of them.

Kali likes to pay homage to her own family and her history: in the formal living room, her wedding dress hangs next to her grandmother Fleur’s wedding dress. Her mother’s family founded the Hannahs surfboard brand, and Kali’s extensive collection of surfboards is scattered through the house.

The main entrance looks north-east, with sweeping views in all directions, taking in Mt Kaukau. When she’s not busy with her work or children, Kali loves walking up Mt Kaukau for head space and exercise. She also loves tending the garden, including the succulents from her grandfather’s beach house in Waimarama. “Every time I go there I bring succulent cuttings home. I sprout them inside to get them going.’’ she says.

Above the garage, Kali has turned the loft space into a studio, where she conducts her classes via Zoom when she is not teaching at Hot Yoga Wellington. She also rehearses there with the Beat Girls. “The house didn’t feel very friendly when we first bought it. I tried to make it feel like my own. Fashion and interior design are like an expression of my personality. I like fabulous things.’’

“I would love to be able to slow down a bit and enjoy it,’’ she smiles.


Sign up to our newsletter