Q&A with Suzi Stevens co-owner of Nelson's Red Art Gallery and Cafe 2020

Suzi Stevens has enjoyed a varied career, from working in the prop design department at Christchurch’s Court Theatre, to making miniature models at Weta Workshop for blockbuster movies such as King Kong. After spending 11 years in Auckland, Suzi and her TV executive husband Ant decided on a change of direction. In 2017 they bought Red Art Gallery and Cafe in Nelson, a region in which they’d enjoyed many summer holidays. The couple love showcasing the work of local and national artists. Suzi and Ant have been overwhelmed by the support of Nelsonians, especially during Covid-19, and have plans to expand the business.

Red Art Gallery and cafe co-owner Suzi.

How would you describe your home and style?

It’s a new build so our current style complements the modern features and decor. It is a light, bright Scandinavian-style home and we’re lucky enough to have works from our favourite artists dotted around. Our style has always matched our home. We had a villa in Auckland therefore the decor was more European vintage.

What inspires you about living in your region?

Defined seasons and in every direction you’re met by breathtaking scenery, from the Abel Tasman to the Moutere Valley, lakes and world-class vineyards. We take comfort knowing our girls are having a classic Kiwi upbringing. 

What’s the last thing you bought for you home?

An outdoor fire from Flare Fires. It will form the centrepiece of our new outdoor kitchen and dining area. Ant loves to cook and entertain and these are designed for open-fire cooking and creating a warm inviting place to relax.

What’s your favourite room?

Our home has an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area which creates so much fun and atmosphere, especially when entertaining. In time, this will link to the outdoor kitchen and dining area, creating an amazing flow between the two areas and creating one defined zone.

A feature print by Auckland photographic artist Emma Bass takes pride of place in Suzi and Ant’s Nelson home.

What trend do you wish would make a comeback?

We are not really followers of trends, but we’re enjoying a resurgence of art that evokes feelings of nostalgia. The gallery brims with pieces that will fit into classic and modern environments, from the floral photographic prints by Emma Bass to the woodblock mountain prints by Nic Tucker.

If money was no object, what would you get for your home?

A pool and guest house. It would just cap the home off. As our girls enter teenage years we want home to be the social hub for them and their friends during the long Nelson summers.

What would you go budget on?

At the moment we’re really enjoying upcycling vintage items from charity shops and recycle centres to use in our outdoor area. It’s amazing what finds we’ve come across and it’s such a satisfying feeling reviving something another person has parted with.

You’ve got a day to refresh your house. What do you do?

Put on upbeat music, open the doors and windows and let the breeze and light in. Add fresh flowers and a soothing scent from Dottera essential oils. Change bedding and cushions and mow the large lawn. Simple pleasures can lift your love for your home.

A piece by Kihikihi-based artist Claudia Aalderink, among other treasures.

What should every home have?

Love and laughter and an HRV system.