Winter winner! Kate Duncan design evening at Thomas’s

Thomas's Design Workshop with Kate Duncan, May 2016 (1)

Our first event with interior designer Kate Duncan drew a sell-out crowd – and it looks like we’ll need to get her back again for those who missed out, and for those thirsty to know more now we’ve whet your appetite!

With her five years of art and design training and her two decades’ experience in the interior design industry, Kate has some real authority on her subject. She is also passionate about good design – and just as passionate about dispelling the myths of bad design – and we felt lucky to have her here sharing her philosophy with Marlborough locals.

Thomas's Design Workshop with Kate Duncan, May 2016 (2)Kate’s talk covered how to approach a home design project, a brief intro to the design process, some insights into what’s popular in home design currently – colours, fabrics and furniture – but also how to future proof your home so it doesn’t become a victim of the dreaded fad!, and she offered some great tips on how to cosy up your home for winter – good lighting being key among them. All the while she left us drooling over the beautiful photographs she’d curated to illustrate her points.


Now we can’t begin to do it justice here, but here are some key takeaways from Kate’s talk:

How to make a happy home that endures

  • Try to buy natural materials that will last and improve with age – metal, timber, wool, leather, cotton, linen. So what if your sheets are creased or your dining table has “character”! Your house is to be lived in and much better to surround yourself with natural, sustainable, beautiful materials which get more interesting with age, than those that will deteriorate quickly and end up in a landfill.
  • The key to future proofing your scheme is classic design. And this may not be what you think! According to Kate classic design can cover any number of styles but it boils down to clean lines, balanced proportions, good materials and quality construction. Your sofa, dining table, bed or sidetable should outlast you!
  • The importance of your home’s connection to nature for your health and happiness (it’s true, the stats say so). Make sure your home is oriented to the view, whether that be the beautiful Marlborough vineyards, mountains or sea, or your own lush garden. And Kate says that no one need miss out; if you don’t have the luxury of your own view – bring the outdoors in with living plants. And again, using natural materials in your house will always help towards a happy and healthy home.

Looking for inspiration?

Check out this beautiful ‘Capella’ solid teak buffet and ‘Bogart’ leather sofa from SM Interiors. We can order these (and many more) for you at Thomas’s. Shop our homewares here – or come in and let us order the perfect piece for you!

Citta Throw at Thomas's Department Store in Marlborough, NZ

Snuggle up with this beautiful purl stitch wool throw from Citta

Have you considered wooden bowls – check out these delectable ones from Nest – or their luxurious natural linen bedding.

Thank you!

Lastly we want to extend a big thanks to everybody who attended last week and made the event such a success.

Come along and talk to us in store about how we or Kate can help you purchase the right, long-term items for your happy home.

And watch this space for our next exciting design event!









Building Beautiful Homes – Introduction to Design with Kate Duncan

Kate Duncan and Thomas's, Building Beautiful Homes

If you’re planning on building a new house, renovating your current one, or just updating your well loved spaces so they function better and truly reflect the people living in them – then grab a friend and come along to our evening of wine, nibbles and words of wisdom with qualified interior designer Kate Duncan on 26 May.

Kate has an impressive background with a Bachelor of Spatial Design from the Auckland Institute of Technology where she specialised in Architectural Interiors and graduated first place in her year winning the Atrium on Elliott prize for Excellence and Professionalism in Design. Her work since has included upgrading a block of A-listed Heritage Buildings on Vulcan Lane in central Auckland, designing a range of furniture – several items of which are still in production today – and then opening and running her own busy and successful interior and spatial design company, Trinity, in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

Since moving back to Marlborough in 2006, Kate has continued to design under the radar while bringing up her family, with work including private residential homes, a hairdressing salon in post-quake Christchurch and a series of projects for a Marlborough winery.

Kate believes good design is about meeting people’s needs:

“The key is to create spaces where people can live and be happy, be themselves and connect with each other. This means simple, beautiful, quality design that is accessible to everyone.”

Thomas's Homeware, bowls plus marble boards


“We are faced with media pressure to have our houses ‘finished’ and magazine ready but we have to take time to build our homes, and build them over a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to leave gaps and don’t feel you have to fill your house up with cheap stuff right now. Give it time. Stories should be attached to each piece in your home, whether it’s something that’s been passed down through the family or something which is new and has your story attached.”

“And we should think about why specific products are a good investment. Natural materials improve with age and the odd scratch not only doesn’t matter, but actually enhances its beauty. We want a dining table that shows its love – that you can have a conversation over and bring up children at.  We should be designing with natural materials – real timber furniture, real leather, cotton sheets, wool throws and furnishings – locally raised Merino wool so we’re supporting our farmers is even better. There is an absolute intrinsic connection between what you buy and what is happening in your town.”

Keen to expand our homewares offerings, our staff got talking to Kate last year and an exciting partnership began.Thomas's Marlborough, homewares

Along with Kate we believe quality, timeless products that are ethically and locally made are imperative to good design. In Kate’s words:

“Thomas’s is such a great family run store which has been here for 105 years. Let’s keep money in the local economy rather than buying out of town. We all need each other. I’d like to encourage people to spend local and to buy things that will last, that you might even pass on to your children – sofas that you can sit on for 30 years, not five years.”

Come along to Thomas’s Homewares department at 6pm on 26 May and you’re in for a treat as Kate discusses:

  • the most important aspects to consider in any successful project
  • a brief introduction to design theory and design process
  • design forecasting and how to future-proof your scheme
  • a presentation of some of the latest fabrics, furniture and finishes
  • seasonal tips for dressing your home for the upcoming winter weather

Over the coming months we’re going to feature more about Kate’s inspiring design philosophy and how to make it work in your home. Watch this space!


Thursday 26 May, 6pm start

Thomas’s Homeware

Please RSVP to or call 578 6369

Drinks and nibbles provided