Waikato Design Directions - Mel Oliver

In person with Hamilton interior designer

Mel Oliver

“I have always been interested in homes and design. I’m a visual person so I like being able to bring my concepts to fruition. I established Turton Oliver Interior Design with Bronwyn Turton in 2006. We met while working together and discovered we had knowledge and experience that were complementary. We specialise in creating relaxed spaces that are functional, practical and efficient. Having grown up in the Waikato, I feel in touch with Hamilton city and its surrounding landscape. Aesthetically, I understand what works in our environment and am always influenced by the setting of my projects.”

Were you creative as a child?

Growing up I was always changing my room, even shifting furniture in the living areas. I enjoyed painting abstracts onto canvas and cooking has always been a creative outlet.

What’s the most satisfying design project you’ve worked on?

I don’t really have one creative project that has stood out above the rest. At the completion of each job I have a sense of satisfaction, but the best ones are always those that get emotive reactions from my clients.

What else inspires your work?

Fashion and food influence my work. Some of my favourite labels are Augustine, Yvonne Bennetti, Shen and Turet Knuefermann. My travels abroad have also given me a great resource to draw inspiration from – Paris because of its architectural icons, glorious food and intimacy. New York for being New York, and Florence for its world-class art and because it is romantic, busy and has tales to be told.

What is the best thing you’ve brought back from an overseas trip?

When in Venice, Italy, I visited a handblown glass studio and watched as a custom piece of art glass was created, which I carefully brought home.

Tell us about your dream home.Australian designer Greg Natale inspires Mel.

It would have to be somewhere with great vistas, be it rural or seaside.

Which international designer do you most admire?

Greg Natale is a great source of inspiration. His tailored approach to design is very refreshing and the eclectic nature of his work doesn’t land on one particular style.

Which New Zealand designer or brand do you most admire?


My admiration stretches to a number of them. There are so many great designers here in New Zealand that are changing the face of our industry, which we should be very proud of.

Do you have any tips for arranging spaces?

Concentrate on a natural focal point of the space, then let the furniture gravitate to this space. Large pieces of furniture will anchor a room, which allows for smaller pieces to be ‘tucked in’.

What’s your favourite time of day?

Sunset – the way the sun sinks beneath the horizon and light that melts in the sky, creating a rich display of illuminating colours. 








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