How small became cool in this city centre apartment

By Sasha Borissenko
Photographed by Anna Briggs

Featured in Capital #80
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Freelance journalist and publicist Sasha Borissenko takes us on a tour of her 52sqm central Wellington apartment.

What the apartment lacks in size it makes up in the fact we own half of the roof. One day we may even invest in purchasing a spa for “spartys”.

I moved down to Wellington from Auckland in November 2020, after realising I wasn’t going to be living overseas anytime soon. A friend suggested I move in with a friend of a friend – Tane Morris – and we got on like a house on fire. We like to laugh, take our jobs seriously, share the same sense of style, and are considerate of each other’s space.

A week shy of Christmas our landlords said we had to move out because they wanted to sell the apartment. We both had savings and Kiwisaver and thought it would be a laugh to take the plunge and go through the process together, despite knowing each other for less than two months. In hindsight, neither of us thought it would happen. The buying process was hideous, but we realised we made a great team. Perhaps it was insanity or simply luck but we purchased the apartment in February and we’ve been living rather harmoniously ever since.

The mid-century vanity was a second hand purchase. I travelled to Kāpiti to get it and the guy thought I was crazy to think I could fit it into my Nissan Tiida. There’s nothing like being underestimated to get the adrenalin and motivation going.

I almost didn’t purchase this amazing desk chair. The inscription says it was made in the Whanganui prison, which had a sense
of meaning for me seeing I tend to report on access to justice issues. I was travelling from Auckland to Wellington and my car was positively heaving with twenty years worth of hoarding. I told the owner of the shop that I’d buy it if he could fit it in the front seat of my car. After a solid half-hour of real-life tetris, he got it in so it was meant to be.

The futon is a secondhand Nood purchase, but I hated the original upholstery. I purchased the mustard velvet fabric cheaply and sewed the cover not realising that I hadn’t accounted for the fact it needed an opening. It required a lot of unpicking. I tend to do things guns blazing and then regret not being more considered, but it’s the risk that’s exciting.

Amid the hysteria of the first lockdown I purchased this metre-tall Virgin Mary. A throwback to my Catholic roots, I think. I spent the first lockdown with my mother in Tauranga. It’s not very often you get to spend quality time with a parent in your adult life. But it almost didn’t happen. I caught the last bus from Auckland and begged the bus driver to let me travel with my bike. I’ve always thought I would secretly thrive if there was an international crisis. I suppose I purchased an apartment so the theory remains intact.

If Tane and I have parties we tend to put tape over the glass cabinet and label it with “no touchies”. We’re a “don’t use the mugs or hand-blown glass” kind of household. Shoes and debauchery are allowed, of course.

There’s nothing quite like having the perfect mug for a cup of tea. My family are all obsessed with mugs. We rank them (tier one, two, or three) according to their quality. I think I may only have tier one mugs. I’ve collected them over the past 10 years from all of my travels and adventures. I think I’d cry if one broke, so I’m pushing my luck having them stacked like that. My friends have staged interventions.

The antlers were a gift from a journalism subject. The article was on a guy who grew world-class dahlias and he owned a second-hand shop. He said I could pick anything up from his shop as a gift. It was probably unethical to receive a gift, but I was young, and if it’s free, it’s for me. I’ve clearly spent far too many years being a student (10).

The ice-cream lamp is iconic for a plethora of reasons. Is it art? Is it functional? A few years ago you could buy two-for-one tickets to Japan. My sister and I went – we often travel together – and I coaxed her to come with me to the kitchen district to pick one of these up just an hour shy of going to the airport. We had all of our luggage with us, and it was a pain, in hindsight. Getting the lamp through customs caused quite the stir. I’m sure they thought I was mad. I suppose they weren’t wrong.

I have an unhealthy obsession with bed linen, and the limoncello European pillowcases are the byproduct of lockdown online purchasing. They may look delicious but they cost a small fortune. The painting on the left is by Julia Atkinson-Dunn of Studio-home.


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