17 Aug At home with Citta Design executive Emmett Vallender
Emmett Vallender, an executive at Citta and former contestant on The Block NZ, lives in an apartment in Parnell, Auckland, with his partner physiotherapist Zigie Wightman.
EMMETT: We were living together previously but just decided we’d go and find our own place, get a bit of space. We’re now living in a loft apartment in the Axis Building in Parnell, which used to be the Nestle chocolate factory. It’s an exciting, pretty big and open space – I’d say it’s almost New York-style without the exposed brick.
We are renting. Sam [Cable, Emmett’s team mate on season 5 of The Block] and I have a few investment properties but Zigie and I decided at this point we’ll just rent, and look for a house we want to buy later.
It’s a quirky place. When we were tossing up between houses we came to the conclusion it’s a unique environment and living space that we’d never get the opportunity to have again – if you end up having kids or have to buy somewhere or whatever – so we thought, let’s take it and live in this loft-y, cool little world for a couple of years.
In Wellington, I lived in a couple of apartments. I never liked them. I hate swipe key access and the fact you’ve got to go down a bunch of stairs or an elevator to get outside. But the difference here, I think, is you’re not cooped up – with the high ceiling and such massive windows.
So this is probably as close to the purest apartment living I’d want to get. I’m very much a house man and when we do buy a place, I definitely want to renovate, rip down some walls or make some changes, or have a hand in building.
There won’t be any real renovations here, but we have put a hell of a stamp on it in terms of our style. I think our aesthetics are quite similar. Zigie probably enjoys more of a clean, white, modern look, and mine’s probably more of a messy, lived-in one with a bit more colour, but I think it comes together pretty well.
ZIGIE: In general, we like lots of neutrals with little bits of colour around rather than heaps everywhere; we want to keep it nice and simple. In a place this big, we kind of have to have that minimalistic look, whether we like it or not.
EMMETT: The dining area and kitchen is probably our favourite spot. There’s a stainless-steel bench that almost looks like an island in the middle, big paned windows with light flooding through them, and a dining table, which I tend to do a bit of work at.
Zigie loves cooking, so we spend a bit of time over in that area and hang out there, especially after work and in the morning when we’re having brekkie.
ZIGIE: My favourite thing is the hammock chair that Emmett installed [see cover]. We’ve made the most of the exposed beams – I don’t think we’ll get a chance to hang something from the lounge roof in another place, so that’s really cool – getting to have a slightly different little spot to sit in and relax in the lounge, right next to the windows.
EMMETT: Mine’s that light, massive, timber flooring – it’s just so big and open – the gravity of the space you have available, and these long, long panes going the whole length… Before we moved in here, the landlord gave them a sand-up, so they look really pristine at the moment. I’m a big fan of timber – there’s a bit of exposed stuff in the ceiling but the floors really make it. If you carpeted this place, you’d ruin it.