Living With Kids: Janette Maclean

My most sincere apologies before we even begin, friends! Because Janette Maclean’s home is going to make you want to shop. And collect. And shop some more. And then collect some more. For antiques and uniques of any genre, treasures without a care about provenance, and anything and everything one-of-a-kind meaningful in between. This is a home decorated with layers and layers of love and wanderlust, brightening today like an unexpected postcard from the other side of the world. Please enjoy it!

Our home is made up of my lovely hubby Jason who runs his own telecommunications business, and me, Janette, a full-time mama and freelance interior designer when I have a free moment, our three-year old Magnus, our one-year old Freya, and Jack the sausage dog.

How did this home become ours? It was kind of your classic “We are not looking for a house” situation, and BAM! There it was! I was out walking with Magnus and Jack (pre-Freya) and stumbled upon the open home. Jason had a look on the very next weekend and loved it, too. Yay!

We loved that it had very traditional features, but the previous owners had renovated the back and added some lovely architectural elements like industrial windows and doors; it has a kind of urban feel at the back of the house. Getting this house was a very protracted affair, and it took almost six months for the deal to be sealed.

The house was much bigger than our previous house, but it works for us really well. Jason keeps an office upstairs, and shortly after moving in, I fell pregnant with Freya, so there’s always been the room we’ve needed. Plus it is nice to have some space for when our family comes to visit.

The house was in great shape, so we only freshened things up with paint inside and re-sanded and stained the floors, as well as adding some window treatments.

New Zealand is so magical! I am originally from California, raised by Danish immigrant parents. I lived in San Francisco before moving to Auckland, and loved it! I think I’d still be there today if Jason hadn’t swept me off my feet!

We met while traveling around Europe and the UK. Jason had been away from New Zealand for about ten years, so it was a huge change for both of us deciding to put down roots. I have to admit, the first couple of years were really hard with no family and friends, but slowly that changed. Now, 12 years on, we have some amazing friends.

We live quite centrally in Auckland so we can walk to all the lovely cafes and shops — the cafe culture here is unbeatable! The beach and the harbor are just down the road, so there is never a shortage of things to do. We are super lucky to go to the States at least once or twice a year, or else my family comes to see us. Mind you, this is getting more challenging with two kiddies.

There have been challenges, for sure. As I mentioned before, I definitely miss family and friends, but thankfully the world has become a smaller place thanks to the good old internet.

Jason’s family is fantastic; they live down in Wellington, so we try to get there as often as we can. I did get a bit of island fever when I first moved over, but with places like Australia and Fiji just a skip and a hop away and 12 hours travel to California, I’ve gotten over it. I guess I am kind of used to it as my brother and I traveled to Denmark every year to visit family, so it doesn’t seem insurmountable. I know Jason and I feel so blessed to have done the traveling that we have had the chance to do, and I hope that we can do the same with our kids.

I have always had a slightly OCD cleaning thing, but I have had to relax since having two children. Otherwise, I would just clean all day long! Now, Jason and I generally wait until the end of the day and get Magnus to help with his room and do a tidy-up before bed. Jason is amazing on the chore front and is a great cook to boot, so really I am surplus to requirements.

Seriously, I think because we don’t have the close family network, we really have to be an amazing team to make it all work. Otherwise, the wheels would fall off.

I am a total magpie. Always have been. I have many memories being dragged around to flea markets and thrift stores, which at the time I hated because I thought it was so uncool! (I was desperate to hang out at the mall, which in hindsight wasn’t so cool!) So, collecting just seeped into my veins, I guess, so much so that if I walk into a particularly good junk shop or flea market, my pulse races and I get super excited to the point that I can hardly contain myself! The junkier the shop, the better; I don’t like them to be too fancy pants!

In the last few years, I have started going to auction houses more and more, and have picked up some amazing pieces at reasonable prices. I like the fact that antiques are green. It is a nice feeling to give a piece of furniture a new lease on life, and I prefer them to have a few bumps and scrapes to show they have had a good life. It helps with kids, too, as they are not always easy on the furniture!

We never buy anything with the express purpose that it has to be for this or that space. We just buy what we love, and then I try my damnedest to make it work! I am also lucky that I have inherited a few lovely pieces from the Danish side of my family. The chandelier in Freya’s room is from my Mom’s eccentric spinster godmother, who would be thrilled if she knew it had traveled from Denmark to California to New Zealand! She loved to travel herself, so I feel like a part of her is here with us.

I have a bit of a magazine habit and have way too many, so I just started consolidating them on one side of the bookshelf; weirdly, all the spines of the magazines were white so it just works! When we moved in, a lot of the shelves were dark wood and we were worried that all white might look a bit too austere, but once we put all of our bits and pieces in…they came to life.

Choosing a favorite room in the house is a tough one! The kitchen and dining area is where we spend most of our time, and it’s definitely the most robust. It is also great for when friends come over as you can be prepping things in the kitchen but still have a chat and a coffee or glass of wine. The kids love it because they can play inside and run out back and I can keep an eye on them and they can’t get in too much trouble.

For my own selfish reasons, I would have to say the front living room is my favorite. It is generally the tidiest room — except when Magnus decided to build his forts in there! — so when the kids are in bed, I can sneak up there and read or watch some television and relax in a grown up room!

ANow that Freya has started walking and Magnus is very boisterous (to put it mildly!) it really can be a bit crazy, but I love the craziness! I know that there will come a time when I will look back at this time with such fondness, and I try to remember that every day. The days are long, but the years short…so true!

I wish I had known not to let the little things stress me out. They really will not matter ten years from now…or even ten minutes from now! I really have to work hard on this concept as I can be a bit of a worrier, but it has definitely been a bit easier since losing my Dad a few years ago to Melanoma to let the unimportant stuff go and not waste time worrying about the minutiae!


Thank you, Janette, for taking us on such a cool tour! If your home was a shop, I’d happily buy it all.

Friends, I just loved when Janette said “I think because we don’t have the close family network, we really have to be an amazing team to make it all work. Otherwise, the wheels would fall off.” Are any of you in the same situation, living apart from your extended families and relying heavily on each other? I’d love to hear your stories of how you keep the wheels on! (For us, Ben Blair and I  run errands in France as a team. His French is much stronger than mine, and I just feel better with him by my side!)

The first family photo was taken by my friend, Wendy of Blue Lily, and the rest of the gorgeous shots are from Kathrin Simon.

P.S. — You can find all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

46 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Janette Maclean”

  1. I’m American and my family still lives there. My husband was born and raised in Venezuela and his parents now live in Portugal. WE moved to Scotland 3 days after we got married. We don’t have any family even remotely close to us. Well, Portugal isn’t that far really. But, not close enough I can call for help if I need it. We’ve really had to learn a lot about each other. We’ve been here for 4.5 yrs and the first few yrs are the hardest. We love living abroad, but not having the help from family can be a bit difficult at time. You just learn to do it yourself. You get into a routine and that becomes your normal. We’re making friends and learning that life never turns out the way you plan and we should stop being surprised about it. Just go with the flow!

  2. What an unbelievably cool house. I have always felt such a deep attraction to New Zealand, and this family and home tour, was a perfect elixir right now. I love the marriage of industrial and traditional, vintage and modern! It’s perfect! And what a lovely domestic goddess Janette is. I can so much relate to her in the OCD side. I love having a clean but livable house, and that’s exactly what you see in her pictures. As for the quote, I can also relate deeply. We live far from our relatives and raising a kid, and growing a family away from family IS challenging. Just the travel alone is something of a horror tale, since you never know what can turn up. But what’s been really hard is having no alone time with husband, and that means, no outings by ourselves where we can rekindle our relationship. Thanks Gabrielle for this lovely series!

  3. My husband and I moved a year ago for him to go to grad school and now we are 4-5 days drive from either of our families. It’s definitely a change (we used to be within 1/2 hour!) but I think it’s made our marriage so much stronger. That same line you pulled out really resonated with me – we really have to be a team out here cuz we are all each other has! But I’ve seen both of us step up in ways that we wouldn’t have needed to if we’d had family close by to call on, and I think we’re both better for it. We’ve learned to depend on ourselves and each other, and enjoy the ride!

  4. We lived in Auckland for a year and a half but just moved to Australia in January. Would have loved to have known you there Janette! Your home is truly beautiful and unique. We moved over to New Zealand knowing almost no one and it was certainly tough, we slowly built up a good network of friends and our daughter (then 3 years old) settled in seamlessly and perfectly but we did feel the strain of having no family network within reach. My husband and I really had to pull together but we are so thankful for the experience of living there, it really is a magical country. We came to Melbourne after our second little girl was born. My sister and her husband are here and expecting their first child and my husband was lucky enough to be offered a great job. We are loving having family just down the road and we have a network of friends here that we already knew through my sister, it has made life easier and we appreciate it all the more now.

  5. I love this home tour, it is my favorite so far! I just love the kitchen and dining area. Those windows are just gorgeous! And the blend of decor is just lovely. Such an inspiration. Although, I am not surprised it is a home in New Zealand. Homes from there and Australia are just gorgeous.

  6. What a lovely home.
    I gasped when I saw the ceramic doxie on the fireplace.
    I have a soft place in my heart for daschunds.

  7. i adore this house – her curated patina, the softness and comfort with touches of industrial…sigh, someday i hope to be able to get my home this far. again, so beautiful.

  8. It might be one of my favourite houses showed in Living with Kids. I loved the hall, the dark wooden floors… I feel really identified with all kind of stress because of cleaning and tidying the house. I don’t thing I don’t have an OCD, I just like that each thing be it their righ place,but people with I had living are really untidy…

  9. What a lovely home! I am especially intrigued by the kitchen counters! They look like something off of a boat- which is perfect, actually, considering she’s from New Zealand.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Oh.My.Goodness. That entrance way is amazing, and that dress hung up on Freya’s bedroom wall! Adorable! I just love this home!

  11. Loved this! Being a treasure hunter, the house just draws me in. I totally understand the pulse racing moment when you enter a great old junk shop or just as the auction begins :) That Salvation Army sign has me drooling, and the windows in the kitchen are fabulous indeed.
    I could keep going but I think I.Love.Everything. about sums it up.

  12. Oh my. Absolutely stunning! I love one of a kind finds! And that outside space!! That kitchen! That little girl’s room! Wow! Thanks for sharing. : )

  13. Oh, you’re right, so many treasures in this home, and all so beautifully organized! I appreciate what she said about not letting the little things stress her out. I too can be a worrier. I’ve found that having a child has helped me with this, as I don’t want to miss out on something with him while I’m stressing over a messy house or an incomplete to do list. Her words were a good reminder. Lovely interview. As always, I just love this series! Thank you, Gabrielle.

  14. What a gorgeous cozy home! I do love what she said about being an amazing team because they have to – that’s how I feel about my team partner and husband!

    Yes, if this home were a shop I would be hooked!


  15. Wow! what a beautiful home and so full of personality, again amazing!
    I moved to US with my husband in 2005 with no family or friends here so we have had to rely on each other a lot. I miss family a lot in both the good and bad times. I often wonder if it is worth staying away from all them for so long.

  16. Oh my! This house is beyond beautiful…I love everything about it and in it.
    Have pinned most images to my Pinterest :-) {hope that’s allowed?!)

    Thanks for sharing, M x

  17. So much to love about this house and interview. Janette sounds like a lovely person, and she’s created a beautiful, inspiring home. The books, the flooring, that amazing counter in the kitchen, and the little sweater. Gorgeous.

  18. What a personal, lovely home – this may be my favorite so far also. We are such bibliophiles, and I love how the family organically integrates the books into most spaces.

    We too are far from all family. It has been especially challenging because we have a child with special needs (autism). I think we (kids + us) are closer because of the distance from extended family, and I also think our home has become even more haven-like because it is our sole physical anchor. We spent a lot of money last summer on our backyard (money I am not sure we would have spent, if we were closer to cousins / grandparents / etc) because we don’t have other, regular retreats.

  19. Wow. I cannot get over how much I love this home. It’s very inspiring. I love the clean lines mixed with antiques and gorgeous rugs. Yay for the good hubby shout out too. I am also spoiled in that regard. Great feature Design Mom! <3

  20. Gorgeous home. Any chance anyone knows where to find that cute wooden tricycle? Or those lovely farm animals on the mantel?

  21. This is my favorite home in the series! I love how eclectic and comfortable it is~ I can easily see raising our four boys there- were we not to have our little farm on the hill that is!

  22. Gorgeous, gorgeous. Serene and beautiful. I love that everything isn’t perfect but, is perfect….ya know what I mean? I love the openness of the kitchen floor plan and all of her beautiful, thoughtfully curated things. Warm and gorgeous.

  23. I know this is an older post, but I just stumbled upon it on pinterest and I loved every bit of it! Love how she incorporates her kids and real life into it all. That is so hard to find. So much inspiration I see isn’t doable with two young kids so this was awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I am curious about the paintings in your home. Were they handed down to you from the Danish side of your family and is the boy carrying a May Day basket? The works add an interesting dimension to your lovely home.

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