Buying a home on the Tutukaka coast was part of Sandra and Eddie McKersey's plan to spend more time living and working there rather than in Whangarei.
The couple owned a city townhouse but bought 20 Dolphin Place about five years ago with a view to renovating it.
"The whole attraction of buying the place was that you could work from home," says Sandra. "It's got a fabulous office with sea views, good cellphone coverage and internet."
Tucked into the hillside, the three-level home's sheltered, north-facing aspect has wide sea views with the Poor Knights Islands at centre stage. Another bonus is that the property has easy access in an area where some of the driveways can be challenging, and lots of off-street parking on the flat.
With help from graduate architect Sarah Bertie, of Designgroup architects h&k, the McKerseys planned a renovation that involved recladding the home in pine shiplap and making the outdoor spaces much more useable.
Because the house had been designed in the 1990s by Peter Harrison, one of the founders of architects h&k, Sarah Bertie had all the drawings and information she needed on which to base the upgrade. She also managed the renovation by builders Daniel Mann Construction, who Sandra says went above and beyond the call of duty.
"Its bones and layout are fabulous - every room has magic views - but it was just getting a bit tired," says Sandra, adding that they did minor cosmetic work indoors - including extending the lounge - but haven't needed to touch the kitchens or bathrooms because they were well built in with durable materials.
Building a large, cantilevered deck off the main living area on the seaward side helped to form a connection with the outdoors and the views. Glass balustrades have been used extensively to offer clear sightlines.
On the opposite side of the living area, a louvred roof was placed over the deck with nothing but glass sliding doors between this sheltered, private deck and the sea view. "You can sit at that table and see not another house but, at the same time, look right out to sea," says Sandra.
The master suite on the top floor shares the water views and has its own terrace. On this floor there is also a lounge, the office and an en suite with spa bath . Entry to the home is at the main, mid-level with a double-height atrium entrance. On this level there is also the main bathroom, a bunk room and a sauna. A bedroom with sea views could be used as a small lounge. Downstairs is another bathroom, and two more bedrooms: both open to a large deck with a spa pool and more sea views.
Sandra loves the way the renovation has maximised the coastal environment. "It's elemental when there's a storm and the waves are bashing on the rocks but you're tucked up inside with the woodburner going."
Planting the section with natives to encourage birdlife has been a priority, and there is outdoor lighting to create magic at night.
Not long after the makeover was completed, in April last year, Eddie died, and Sandra has resigned herself to selling what would have been their retreat from busy working lives.
She says: "It's not a nice thing to sell it but I have to move on and the house needs to be lived in."
By Graham Hepburn