Our home-style heroes

Since way back, our members have been using Trade Me to style their homes with hidden gems, DIY projects, and unique items. These three amazing women do a next-level job of just that, and they’ve been kind enough to share their own experiences with us.

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Erena Te Paa

“I love that [Trade Me] is full of surprises and treasures and regardless of how many years I have been a member… there is always something waiting to be found, especially if you are willing to look for it or think outside the box!”

Erena Te Paa is a married Mum of two, a stylist by trade and airbnb host. Rearranging spaces and making a house a home has always been a part of her. She’s also got a real knack for finding secondhand pieces and reworking them – trait she picked up from her grandmother, who used to volunteer at the local Op-Shop and who was also quite the crafter and collector. She’s turned her passion into a job and a hobby – and done a bang-up job of it too.

Erena is known for her earthy, elegant, minimal style, and when hunting for metaphorical nuggets of stylish gold on-site, she usually has an idea of what she’s wanting before she starts. “While I don't often find that exact thing, I do find alternatives that I can work with. And so for me it's always been about keeping an open mind, knowing what pieces will work best in your space and not shying away from a little DIY to achieve the finished look.”

Another alternative, is manifesting the perfect item – as she did with her favourite Trade Me find, her couch. She’d come across it for the first time in a property listing of all things, and loved it so much she thought of reaching out to the property owner to see if they wanted to sell it. After reconsidering a that particular plan, she accepted she’d not be owning it, and let it go. Months later, she was scrolling through the site and what should appear but that very same couch. “After I'd won, I emailed the owner and told her about the couch I'd seen months ago and sure enough she revealed that it was her listing and that too was her couch. She also said she had felt incredibly regretful for selling it until she read my email and realised that it was going to a great home where it would be loved and adored, which it is, very much.”

When it comes to top styling tips, Erena suggests starting by building a picture of the things you like – even if you don't yet know how they thread together. “Eventually when you feel like you know exactly what type of vibe you like you can break that down into rooms and then to in to the things you'd like to see in those rooms.” It’s pretty clear to us she knows what she’s doing, so you bet we’ll be taking that advice!

You can follow Erena and her stunning style via Instagram, at @erenatepaa, or at www.erenatepaa.com.

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Evie Kemp

“I love that Trade Me means I can really express my unique style in my home, surrounded by colour, history and stories.”

Evie Kemp is a designer and artist, and self-confessed TradeMe addict. Her work spans across interiors, homewares, textiles, styling and design but she reckons her home is her main canvas. She loves giving things a second life, and can’t get enough of “the thrill of the chase, the smugness of a great find, and having things no one else does!”

She’s always loved interiors, saying “my dolls house was always my favourite toy but it was all about rearranging furniture and making accessories”. Rumour has it her mum is a talented decorator and treasure hunter as well, so it’s definitely in the family!

With such a distinctive (but broad) style, Evie says perseverance is the key. “I scroll through the Trade Me app almost every night… I don't use many keywords for searching because we all describe things differently and I don't want to miss a hidden gem, so I usually just set the condition to "used" the order to "latest listings" and flick through!.” When there is something she really wants, Evie’s top tip is to search with typos – according to her, it’s where the designer bargains live.

Everyone has a favourite purchase, and for Evie every purchase has a place in her heart, saying “somehow I forget what day it is but I never forget when/where/who I bought something from years later.”

One of her favourite trades was the huge 70s sofa – it has zebra wood veneer and bookcases in the arms, and it's also 3 metres long. Phew! She spotted it on-site for $100, won, and we went to pick it up on a horrendous winter night. “It turned out to be at one of the old Parnell Railway sheds that were sadly due for demolition - if it hadn't sold it was just going to be left there. It was really cool to get to look in this piece of Auckland industrial history before it was lost forever, and it turned out the junky couch was a bit of history itself. I was stoked.”

To other budding home stylists, Evie suggests finding one thing that genuinely makes you swoon a bit when you see it – “it might be a piece of art, a lamp, a chair, even something little like a mug!... Don't get too hung up on matching or themes, if you genuinely love things they will naturally hang together united by your unique taste!”

You can follow Evie and her incredible style via Instagram at @eviekemp, or at www.eviekemp.com.

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Maiko Nagao

“I think Trade Me is all about that saying 'One man's junk is another man's treasure'. Finding new uses from someone else's junk while saving money and repurposing waste... and with a little bit of creativity you can create a home that's so uniquely YOU! I can't think of anywhere else better to shop! #numberonefan”

Maiko Nagao is a mum, artist, creative director, and Trade Me treasure-hunter. Known for her calm, boho, mid-century style, she finds a heap of her favourite pieces on site.

Maiko has always loved to create. “As a child my mum and I would spend all day weaving baskets with vines from our backyard, making mobiles out of shells we collected, and plenty of repurposing junk and old furniture.” All these elements are so beautifully reflected in her home, and the magic of creating one thing from another has clearly stuck around. Maiko’s home is now her creative outlet, and you sure can tell.

A lot like Erena, she knows what she’s looking for before she goes hunting for it, and with vintage furniture being her forte, she finds a treasure trove of hidden gems by using key words and searching by ‘latest listings’

“Good stuff get snapped up so you gotta be on top of the game”. Her home is full to the brim of Trade Me treats, like her ex-villa Kauri fireplace mantel. It was $1 and it fit perfectly – proving that you don’t need to drop megabucks to find unique items that kick things up to the next level.

When creating a space, Maiko reckons it’s all about number one. “Don't forget to create a space that makes you feel happy and is a reflection of YOU and YOUR lifestyle! Fill your home with things you love and It'll never go 'out of trend'.”

Plus, a sneaky top tip from us to you – Maiko’s artwork is amazing, so make sure to check it out!

You can follow Maiko and her chic style via Instagram, at @maikonagao, or at www.maikonagao.com.