Susan Templer

About admin

Owner and principal of Templer Interiors, interior designer Susan Templer specialises in all aspects of residential interiors, with particular emphasis on kitchen and bathroom renovations and new build projects.

Favorite Food and Recipe Links

I am mostly a cookbook person, with upwards of 125 at last count. I prefer having a solid book in my hand, preferably with gorgeous photos, to searching online for recipes. That said, there are a few that I frequent, along with food blogs that include recipes. Here then, a list of my personal favorites:

Cooks Illustrated  The best website for guaranteed to be perfect recipes! Cooks Illustrated is part of the America’s Test Kitchen family, which started out as cookbooks. Not surprising then that their books also rank among my favorites. This is a subscription website, with a few free recipes, but you will have to sign up to access the huge mother load. Well worth it, for the recipes and so much more available online. Including a truly revolutionary, fool proof pie dough!!

Epicurious  one of the first and still one of the best

Dorie Greenspan  my favorite food blog, including recipes. Dorie is the queen of baking, in fact, her book “Baking” taught me how to do just that and led to a few dozen more books and a minor obsession. Her recipes are foolproof,  her writing is always entertaining, her recommendations to be relied upon, and she even share the occasional savory recipe

Cafe Fernando a food blog like no other. Entertaining, educational and always fascinating, not to mention the name tells you nothing about the content. I won’t tell you more, just check it out

Nick Malgieri Nick is another highly regarded baking master, with down to earth and easily accessible recipes

NOTE: if you come across the ingredient “corn syrup” called for in any of the American recipes, particularly when making cake frosting, DO NOT try substituting! In Auckland, you can find both light and dark corn syrup at Martha’s Backyard on Lunn Avenue in Mt Wellington. She also has Crisco shortening, best for the pie recipes (NZ shortening is different and may alter the results)

Julia Child  because she is incomparable, need I say more? The Baking with Julia series was amazing and produced a wonderful cookbook, co-authored by Dorie Greenspan

Mexican Specialties  probably the best Mexican food in Auckland (though I hear there are some new contenders on the horizon), with recipes coming soon to the website. And their little store will have most of the ingredients needed for any of your Latin American recipes

Chow and Chowhound  all things food and foodie, with an Australia/New Zealand forum that you can sign up for here

Millys Kitchen  the best kitchen store of course, and now they have recipes online too. I prefer the huge Parnell warehouse location, though the Ponsonby store has it’s charm

Foodie  all things food and foodie New Zealand with a great newsletter that you can subscribe to

Foodlovers  a lot like the previous listing, also with a newsletter and loads of recipes and forums

Dineout  not recipes, at least not usually, but an invaluable resource for any foodie. A wealth of great information on restaurants and related topics, love their forums too!

Dish Magazine and last, but certainly not least, if you can buy only one food magazine, this has got to be it! I have tried them all, and still do on occasion but whether Kiwi, Aussie or American, there is no comparing to Dish. The best recipes hands down, always perfect the first time.

I hope you have enjoyed my list and have found some new and enlightening resources.

Happy eating! And Happy Holidays to all!

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By |December 21st, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Cats are the best design assistants

By |December 18th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Musings on Colour – A Personal Perspective

Anyone who knows me will have heard me complain about white, or even worse!, beige walls. This is not a new thing. Even before I became an interior designer, colour in my home environment was a very important thing. In a long ago rented apartment, I painted the cabinet doors and drawer faces of my white kitchen a lovely robin’s egg blue. A lot of work for an apartment I lived in for less than 2 years, but it made me smile every time I walked into that room.

If you are reading this, then you already know that I am from San Francisco, living in Auckland, coming on three years now. It’s a transition, some good, some more difficult. I deal with it. But I did not expect is to be so confused about colour! It was something I didn’t think about at all until last year when we bought our house. A big house, two floors, lots of wall space. Painting would not begin right away, I had some time. But that time is drawing near. As I work out all the details (just in my head, soon to go on paper), I have been thinking about what colours we will paint the walls. And here I am not only stumped, but very upset about being stumped!

For me, colour has always been instinctual, whether in the clothes I wear, the choice of toe nail polish, or paint for the walls of my home. Especially those wall colours. I have always known, in every instance, what colours I wanted and where. The exact shades were down to sorting through paint chips and trying the choices out in different light. But I have always had a good sense going in whether this wall would be a red, while that one a yellow, and this one a green and so on. But since moving into this house, I have had no sense at all, and that has been weighing on me. Keeping me awake at night. Really. And that indecision has had me wondering – why don’t I know, the way I always just know?

In the article about Home Magazine’s 2011 Home of the Year, the writer says, “Views are the blessing and the curse of many New Zealand homes. Our remarkable landscapes command attention, but many of our homes cower mute and inexpressive in response”. How very true, and this is the realisation I had finally come to. The writer is referring to architecture, but it applies as well to interiors. We have so much of the outside inside, with our fully detached homes and big windows on all sides, that the outside always has to be considered. Wall colours, even window coverings, are frames for views that are like huge paintings on our walls.

In the Northern Hemisphere, even in sunny California, most of the homes are all about the indoors. There is just too much world out there that we want to get away from. All but the very rich have views of concrete sidewalks chock-a-block with parked cars, and ugly rooftops. We are packed in on small sections, in cities like San Francisco, houses are up against each other, so that windows are only front and back, not on the sides, and an occasional skylight if one is lucky.

But here, it’s also about the light, which is so very different, that harsh, bright southern light that intensifies every colour. Subtle warm shades just won’t do for framing those bright green trees and intense blue sky. In New Zealand, especially North Island, and especially Auckland, with our water views all around, and green, green, green spaces, it will be about how I can create a unique interior that lives in harmony with the exterior. Stayed tuned for the results. Who knew that even paint colours would be such a journey?

By |December 18th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

A Better Window Covering

Don’t you just love Before and Afters? I do. But in the magazines you see a small black and white “before” photo followed by many glamorous  “after” photos. It always looks like the room has been made extra messy, or the model has just rolled out of bed after a rough night! I will be posting before and afters as I begin the process of renovating the big house we bought last year. But I promise not to mess up the rooms or be photographed as I roll out of bed! And if I can manage not to forget before the sledgehammers go to work, I will take enough detailed before shots so that the afters make sense.

So here, entry number one in the renovation chronicles. A very small one I admit, not a renovation at all. But this small thing has made a big difference in elevating the first impression of our home, the entry.

Our house, in a leafy suburb of wide residential streets in central Auckland, has huge windows all around. Especially in the public rooms. Wide sliding doors on two sides (soon to be three) open onto decks. Long and, in many places also tall, windows feature in every room. There is even a second stack of long windows along the front of the house. This amount of glass, and view of the outdoors, will affect every aspect of my interior design. It has already contributed to my confusion about paint colours, but more on that in a later post.

While I try to be patient about the design process, what needed quick attention were the horrible, ancient aluminium Venetians on every window, big, small or sliding. Some have been replaced with beautiful, off white painted Venetians, wide 60mm slats, which look so elegant. Venetians gave me not only the look I prefer, more of a warm, furniture look than roller blinds, but also the function I need, the ability to adjust privacy, light and air flow. We have nice, deep recesses at all windows and sliding doors. Except at the entry. Here was a challenge!

Our house is built in classic mid-century modern style, very open plan, with the entry, lounge, and dining area all flowing into one big space without visual obstruction. So all the blinds are the same. At the entry, just next to the front door, there is a big window, a single large glass panel. But, no recess. If I used the same blinds here, they would be sticking out into the room, into the walkway, and would just look wrong. Solution? Well, curtains of course. But I wanted the light and the openness, so I went for sheers. And not just any plain sheer, no, these are gorgeous!


Not so terrible, right? Except that 99% of the time, the blinds were shut and looked like this:

Yes, very Yuck! Here, then, some photos of the new look:sheer curtainssheer curtains, circles designThese are the times that photos don’t seem to do justice. The fabric, by Baumann from James Dunlop (colour Cosmo), is surprisingly durable for one so sheer. The colours are rich with wonderful depth, and the whole effect transforms the space. But this is just one element. Still to come, dramatic, bold colour on the walls to play off what may now seem to be a too harsh contrast in the dark fabric.

And never forgetting the function and the practical, the window has had a new tinted film applied. This film gives 90% UV protection so the fabric won’t fade, and is mirrored on the outside. So now I can have my view always, while maintaining privacy. And it looks so nice  ;-)



By |December 17th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

The Kitchen Corner

One of my favorite design tricks, and a feature that pops up again and again in my kitchen designs, is to treat an end corner as a special area. Most kitchen designs have open sides, where a run of cabinets will start at a wall but then the end opens to a room. Sometimes there is a walkway there, either heading down a hall or into another room. Sometimes there is a window at the end so the cabinets don’t head all the way to the wall. Sometimes the lower cabinets continue along one side while the uppers stop. Whatever the room or cabinet layout, I always try to finish an end with something interesting. And interesting to me usually means open shelves where the owner can make a personal statement. Some examples:

kitchen design, corner cabinets, pendant lightHere we have a glass fronted cabinet that balances one of the same size and design on the other side of the hood, with a little wine cubby alongside, then open shelves at the very end. Open to a window at the side, and with a counter continuing along in front, this configuration adds interest and draws the eye the way another plain glass fronted cabinet would not.

kitchen design, glass fronted cabinets, open shelfHere a much simpler version. This kitchen has glass fronted doors on all of the upper cabinets, and with a window so close to the end run, plus window trim that would interfere should the cabinets run straight to the wall, I have held the last cabinet away from the wall by just a few centimeters, and added a narrow open shelf. Again it serves to draw the eye, adds interest and allows the owner to display something personal, in this case her collection of antique cookbooks.

kitchen design, kitchen cabinets, open shelves, pendant lightsBeyond the sink, to the right of what is seen in the photo, is a window on the side wall, next to a door that goes to the garden. In this layout, it was decided to not run overhead cabinets above the sink. The result is a wonderful feeling of openness in a long, narrow kitchen with nothing to interfere with the natural light that streams in. But a regular cabinet, with a flat side at the end run would not only look plain, but feel claustrophobic. A narrow shelf cabinet, open on two sides, solves this nicely. It contributes to the open feel and gives the owner a place to display some of her Italian ceramic dishes.

unique kitchen design, personal style, kitchen cabinetsAnd here something entirely different! There are almost no upper cabinets in this large kitchen, except a few at the far end of this counter that are small, boxy and discreet, similar to this display box, but with glass doors. To the left and right of these shelves are windows. But the end of the counter still has something different and something interesting. Rather than end the run with a simple squared off counter and cabinet side, I have extended the granite benchtop with an overhang for a chair, and added an elegant curve to the counter to soften the hard, straight lines running throughout the cabinet design. This is a comfy little space to make a phone call, pay the bills, or just have your morning cuppa! BTW, I just love the colours here, and look closely at the splashback design. This is a great kitchen! Check out the rest of the photos here.


By |November 8th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Stylish Range Cookers

traditional kitchen, la cornue stove, white cabinets, tile backsplash

A true classic from France, La Cornue has been making high end, fabulous cookers for over 100 years. One of the most sought ofter, luxury stoves in Europe and the US, FL Bone of Auckland has added this to their amazing line of beautiful and hard working stoves from the UK, such as AGA, the standard in olde English homes for centuries

AGA stove, traditional kitchenIn New Zealand, AGA is sold under the name of the parent company, Falcon, along with the Falcon, Rangemaster, Mercury and Rayburn brands of more affordable, while still hard working, great performers. Available in a dozen finishes, including stainless steel, black, white, ivory, and a range of bright colours for the more daring, these range cookers are a great starting point for a unique kitchen design while offering excellent cooking performance.

And I speak from personal experience. Last year I needed to buy a new cooker. The top end US brands, Viking and Wolf, while available here, are prohibitively expensive. And although I have specified them dozens of times for clients, the heavy duty commercial stainless look is not to my personal taste. So I did a massive amount of research to familiarise myself with locally available brands, like Ilve, Smeg, Award and others. I looked at performance and reliability, compared that to cost – value for the dollar – and the look of the appliance. I am very particular about the performance of my gadgets, big and small, and I cook a lot. I also wanted this to be a lifetime purchase, so I needed to get it right.

My research took me to online user review sites, mostly Australian and UK based, mixed in Consumer’s NZ product testing, with manufacturer claims of performance. And I talked to loads of people, including salespeople, kitchen designers and end users of different brands.

All of my research led to one clear conclusion and I became the proud owner of a Falcon Rangemaster Professional+FX in Ivory. And I love it! It will be the starting point for my new kitchen design and I am sure there will be a lot more said about it in future blog posts. For now, if you are thinking of a new range cooker, get yourself down to FL Bone and check them out. My stove cost less than the mid-line Smeg, much less than any model Ilve and I am very confident from all of my research that it performs better and will last longer.



By |November 8th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Resin panels

resin panels, bathroom design, 3-formWho could not love the look of these panels? These are by a company called 3-Form out of the US, and part of their Varia Ecoresin line. Distributed in New Zealand by Carter Holt Harvey, these are translucent resin panels in a variety of design choices. With a huge range, my personal favorite is the Organics collection, which offers not just a natural look, but is truly natural! They suspend real materials in the resin, things like Bear Grass and twigs with names like Thatch and Ting Ting! The one in the photo above is called “Hydrangea Thatch” and yes, those are real flower petals and twigs suspended in clear resin!

this one is Criss Cross,3-form, bathroom design, door panel

and here’s Green Tea:3-form, resin panel, closet design

There are so many uses for these amazing panels! They add interest while letting the light in. And they can create a look and feel that textured glass cannot. I have used some of the organics as inserts into cabinet doors to create a Japanese style in a couple of bathrooms. For closets and entry doors, there is privacy, but still the light comes through, and these are so much more interesting than frosted glass. For a kitchen, so many different and interesting looks can be achieved with 3-Form inserts in cabinet doors. For a bathroom design, I used Fossil Leaf  as a shower door panel in place of glass. The subtle, clear leaf design echoed the leaf imprint in the floor tiles. One of my favorite San Francisco restaurants uses Bamboo Rings as the back wall for their line up of drinks bottles. Back lit, and a perfect compliment to the bamboo floors and panels used throughout, they look so incredibly cool!

Can you tell that I just love these panels? They are so beautiful, so interesting, so unique! With these, we can create a truly individual accent. Add to that, they are so environmentally friendly! These panels are made from a minimum of 40% pre-consumer recycled resin.



By |November 1st, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments

Liquid Assets

By |October 30th, 2011|Press|0 Comments

Just an old fashioned girl from San Francisco

I’m an old fashioned girl. My Blackberry is just a phone, my i -Touch is just for music and I hand write appointments in my calendar book. So this blog will be like they were in the beginning. The word “blog” stands for “web log” and the early ones were online journals. The author, usually an anonymous nobody, would spout opinions, observations and feelings, about anything and everything, without regard for the audience. In fact, many never had, or expected, much of an audience.  Then they started to catch on and they changed. Today, blogs have morphed into everything from a full website in blog format to, most commonly, a  “News & Events” section for current topics and product information.

I expect to have some of that. But mostly, I will be musing on a personal level about all things design.  As they relate to my journey, my adventure if you will, getting established as a designer in my new country.  Along the way I’ll be renovating my own home and will document that process here. And I’ll try to refrain, but there may be some ranting and raving along the way. Like, why are New Zealand kitchens so boring?!! And why is there so much white everywhere?!!

Oops, sorry. That just slipped out.  Amongst all the wonderful and glorious things about living here, sometimes a girl from San Francisco can have a tough time in the world of New Zealand design. Perhaps you understand. If so, I hope you will keep me company on my journey. And I would love to hear what you have to say too!





By |October 29th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Lighting, Lighting and more Lighting!

Lighting is one of my passions. Okay, I do have a few of them, in design that is. I get weak in the knees over beautiful tiles, can get unseemly over shiny taps, and turn to jelly over fabulous, well built joinery. But lighting! Now there’s a really special world. Well, until I moved to New Zealand that is. One lighting store after another had white pendant lights, white ceiling fixtures, plain sconces, with barely a blown glass shade in sight. Even the really high end stores, with European imports, seemed devoid of anything that didn’t look like it belonged in a Woody Allen fantasy of the future. All stark. All plain. All the same.

Until now! Finally, some of my favorite light fixtures are being imported into New Zealand! Hinkley, with their beautiful outdoor lighting and the glamorous Frederick Ramond Collection. Kichler Lighting, voted #1 in 2011, and including a full line of fans with built in lighting. And my true love, Hubbardton Forge Lighting! Here are just a few examples of sconces used in bathrooms:

lighting, wall sconces, modern sink basin, tile design, white tiles

vanity and lightingJapanese bath with lighting

Hubbardton Forge was one of my go-to companies on so many projects, in rooms throughout the house, because of their versatility. They have collections that allow you to have the same, or very similar, look throughout the house. Perfect for our open plan style homes, as you look from one room through to another, there is a consistent design feel throughout. Since they offer all of their models in multiple finishes and multiple design options, this means that rather than all being the same, they can be unique while still maintaining a cohesive design.

By |October 24th, 2011|Great Design Ideas|0 Comments