At home with

Alex Walls

We chat to Alex Walls about style, life changes, and what she’s working on at the moment.

In conversation with Alex Walls

We all love and know Alex (and Corban) from when they took the top prize on The Block NZ, back in 2014. Known to push the limits with design, functionality, and detail, the creative duo have gone from strength to strength, creating the design orientated, successful homewares business that is A&C Homestore, and building their dream home in Beach Haven, Auckland (see the build here).

Since finishing their home and having children, Austen and Goldie, the couple took a moment to re-evaluate their priorities. In late 2022, they made the decision to sell their business in order to spend more quality time with their children.

We spoke to Alex about her inspirations, how life has changed, and what projects she has lined up.

Hi Alex,

how is life?

Life is great right now. Selling the business was a massive change to our lifestyle and I've done it intentionally so I could be at home with the kids (they’re 4 and 7). I didn’t want to miss out on this crucial age and stage of their lives.

It also meant that I could get a dog, which I've wanted my whole life! So yes, I'm loving being at home and having a bit more time. I definitely miss the lovely team I worked with and all the beautiful product, but I wouldn't change it. I’m really happy with the way things have worked out.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

We’re currently working on a rental project which I’ve really enjoyed. Corban is working full-time on the renovations, and I've been doing the planning, styling, and painting. I love pulling a plan together, and we’ve had so much fun doing it.

I’ve also enjoyed not having the pressure of delivering it at a certain time. However, towards the end of the project, I decided we did need to finish, as it had the potential to drag on and on. We also have a smaller house at the back of the property we needed to start, so that’s what Corban’s working on now.

He’s working really hard, which is great, as he loves a project. He was a stay-at-home parent during lockdown and he was not shining... The kids had a ball with him, but he just isn’t designed to be at home.

What has been the most challenging part of the project?

As they are rental properties it’s quite a budget-conscious build, so that's a bit of a challenge. It’s meant we've had to be quite creative and do a lot of the things ourselves. It’s also meant not being able to use the materials and products that I would normally like to, but that's fine and it’s been really interesting.

"It’s a budget-conscious build, so that's a bit of a challenge. It’s meant we have had to be quite creative and do a lot of the things ourselves."

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

I like to get on Pinterest, it gets me into the flow. I'll create myself moodboards from things I've seen on Pinterest and products I know I'm using. I always try and find an inspiration piece to draw from, depending on if it's a room, a house, or an overall project. I’ll then use that one key colour palette or inspiration, to create plans and moodboards from.

Otherwise I’ll establish something like a colour palette myself, and look around and get inspiration from what's going on in other places.

How would you describe your interior style?

Earthy, modern, and minimalist. I like neutral, earthy products and colours.

I find it quite hard to pinpoint style, because I also really love mid-century and something a bit dramatic. But when it comes to my own home and the setting that we're in, it works with a neutral, earthy palette.

I guess it also depends on the location and the style of the home. If we were in a villa, I would naturally have gone for something a bit more traditional or dramatic.

"When it comes to my own home and the setting that we're in, it works with a neutral, earthy palette."

Where are your favourite places to source from?

That's quite a tricky question. I'm still in A&C Homestore mode, so I would naturally go to Baya for cushions, and I love Globewest Furniture. I'm inspired by everything they do, and the colours that they work with. Australia seems to be years ahead of New Zealand in this regard, perhaps it’s got to do with population and demand.

I also really love Ferm Living and Sarah Ellison furniture, it's just beautiful. Those are my go-to's at the moment, but things change so quickly according to trends and season, so I’ll never have a straight answer for this!

What are your top tips making your home feel refreshed or new?

1. Using paint is a nice way to change things up.

2. The easiest way is probably cushions. They’re affordable and can change seasonally, so it’s a great way to freshen a space with new colours and patterns.

3. I also love adding vases and floral arrangements.

"Cushions are a great way of refreshing your home. They’re affordable and can change seasonally, so it’s a great way to freshen up with new colours and patterns".

Do you have a most treasured decor piece, and why?

This bowl by Tom Dixon, which I got given from my first boss Roger Pagani before I appeared on ‘The Block’. It’s a beautiful piece, although the kids use it as a helmet! But I love it and it will always be special to me.

There’s also the new pendant light that's hanging over our dining table. That was my gift to myself when we sold the business. I've always wanted it, and it has really changed the feeling of our dining space.

What inspired you to incorporate the Sandringham Rug into your home?

The richness of the colour, and the fact that it's 100% wool.

The wool is a lot easier to clean and look after than viscose, or our previous jute/wool mix rug. The jute was uncomfortable to sit on, so making this change means the kids like to sit on it and play with their Lego. I can also relax, knowing it’s not going to get damaged if they drop water onto it. We've had quite a few spills already and it's been really easy to clean (Note: Alex’s rug has been protected with Microseal).

But back to my first point, I think it’s the colour – It fits in with the musty and earthy palette of the house and it's just so beautifully rich. I guess this rug also adds an element of that mid-century colour and feel that I love.

What's next for you? Do you have any projects on the horizon?

Right now, we have the small house at the back of the rental property. But I do also have something coming up… which I don’t know if I can talk about yet! All I can say is that it will be quite fun to be involved in. What's awesome is it's not a full-time job, so it's not going to take me away from the kids, but it does mean that I can do things I love. It’s to do with doing-up homes and helping people get the best out of their home, so I’m really looking forward to being involved.

Watch this space!

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