Shop My Home: Gallery owner swapped Auckland for a ‘nine-minute’ city and never looked back

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Suzi Stevens studied ceramics and jewelry – and ended up making models for King Kong for Wētā Workshop. But while she considers herself a creator, she is happy to represent other artists through her company Nelson, Red art gallery and cafe. Stevens lives with her husband, Ant, and two daughters, Fenna and Beau, in Stoke, Nelson.

Watch the video above for a tour of Suzi’s home. You can click on the links in the video to purchase some of her art and homewares for your own space. Stuff does not derive any commercial advantage from these links.

SUZI STEVENS: We were in Titirangi, such a beautiful place in the bush, in the hills. But we started going to Māpua every year to visit my husband’s parents, and we started thinking that Nelson was such a beautiful place.

Stevens' modern home in Nelson is just a 10-minute drive from his gallery in town.

Andy Macdonald/STuff

Stevens’ modern home in Nelson is just a 10-minute drive from his gallery in town.

We started looking for business opportunities. A friend mentioned the gallery, knowing my artistic background, and we stopped en route to the airport.

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When we walked in it was so familiar. Maybe because I’ve worked in old heritage buildings in art and design in the UK. Six months later, we owned it.

Fenna was 13 at the time, and Beau 10, and we desperately wanted to live in town for girls’ schools. Saw this place in Stoke show up on Trade Me and said “it’ll be fine”.

The house was four years old. One of the previous owners was Scandinavian: there was this decor, really light and airy.

We had left an old character house in Auckland that we had renovated. We knew we didn’t have time to think about renovating because we were busy with the business.

It looked a bit like a hotel. Every drawer worked. We were quite happy.

Steven's husband commissioned this beehive artwork for his birthday.  There are important dates for the family.  She had already ordered a real hive from him for his birthday later that same month.

andy macdonald/stuff

Steven’s husband commissioned this beehive artwork for his birthday. There are important dates for the family. She had already ordered a real hive from him for his birthday later that same month.

We love the area and we love the neighbors. We have a lot of meetings.

The journey to work is 10 minutes, maybe 20 with school. At lunch, I can go home if I need to. It’s a nine minute town, someone told me.

We always thought we wanted to live by the water. But we are so rural, watching the sheep and the cows. You can even see deer in the evening, hear deer roar.

I change everything according to the seasons. Ant comes home and everything is moved. I like to embrace this hygge; light my one night candles and have a peaceful home because work is busy – socially busy – all day.

Stevens likes to change up the decor, but keeps it light and airy.

andy macdonald/stuff

Stevens likes to change up the decor, but keeps it light and airy.

A friend gave Stevens the rose quartz, and she had jeweler Barry Clarke make a ring of it.

andy macdonald/stuff

A friend gave Stevens the rose quartz, and she had jeweler Barry Clarke make a ring of it.

We like to take home a work of art from the people we represent. We don’t have enough walls. Because it’s new construction, it’s all windows.

We have so many artists from Nelson. We are spoiled. We inherited a lot when we took over the business. I’ve met them all, maybe 60 in total, and we’re good friends now.

Because I was an artist, I feel like I know what it’s like on their side of things. It’s hard for an artist. You want to promote them and show off their work as best you can. It’s a real relationship between the artist and the gallery.

The ceramic rabbit is Stevens' first creation in clay after 26 years: she made it during a workshop with Fiona Sutherland, and gave it to her family for Christmas.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

The ceramic rabbit is Stevens’ first creation in clay after 26 years: she made it during a workshop with Fiona Sutherland, and gave it to her family for Christmas.

I moved to New Zealand 25 years ago from Liverpool. My aunt lived in Christchurch so this was always going to be my OE.

I met Ant there through a friend. I was actually supposed to be on my way home, but I had also been offered a job at the Court Theater, so I thought, you know what, I’ll stay a little longer.

He was running a fudge factory at the time, but he already knew that wasn’t his calling.

Alfie the cavoodle is

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

Alfie the cavoodle is “the favorite thing” of the family. “We arrived in our Nelson, and we had lost (the dog) Chester after 19 years. We have all missed having a dog in our lives.

A lot of people told him, you should try the radio. He has a nice voice. So he went back to study at media school and from there he ended up getting a job at TV3 in sports.

We went to Auckland together, and he ended up presenting, producing, editing. He produced Seven Sharp and Breakfast for many years. But he needed a change.

We’re a bit like that, we both say to each other: you only have one life, let’s do it.

Watch the video at the top of this story for a tour of Suzi’s home, and you can click the links in the video to purchase some of her art and homewares for your own space. If you’re using an Apple device, you’ll need to exit full screen mode to see the links.

Featured articles are chosen by our editorial team, and there is no commercial arrangement with Stuff.

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