Approaching downtown Wellington, New Zealand, from the airport, you curve around the city’s glittering bay and land in Courtenay Precinct, a stylish neighborhood chockablock with boutiques, bars, and sidewalk cafés. It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago this was one of the city’s least appealing areas, its prime landmarks a sketchy bus depot, a belching incinerator where the city burned its trash, and a commercial port where cargo ships docked to unload their wares. Warehouse-lined streets erupted at daybreak as produce markets took over the neighborhood, leaving squashed tomatoes and cabbage leaves in their wake. "It was really quite scungy," reflects Jan Bieringa, who with her husband, Luit, bought one of the area’s rundown mercantile buildings in 1996. The Edwardian warehouse on the corner of Blair and Wakefield streets is a few blocks from the water. "At the time, this was a very neglected part of Wellington. Not many people were moving into the inner city. But we thought it was fantastic."
When not writing, editing, or combing design magazines and blogs for inspiration, Jaime Gillin is experimenting with new recipes, traveling as much as possible, and tackling minor home-improvement projects that inevitably turn out to be more complex than anticipated.