Since 1902, Shoreville House has been a country house by the sea. Over the century, the gracious house has evolved from a holiday home on Takapuna beach, to a wedding reception venue, and finally travelled to Kumeu to become a much-loved family home again.
In 1987, Mary and Garry Green were part of the "lifestyle" pioneers settling on a former dairy farm beside the Brigham Creek estuary. They and their neighbours even named their new street Moontide, after the moon shining on the full tide at the bottom of their gardens. Garry overheard that Shoreville House was to be removed from Takapuna beachfront and a year later, the buildings arrived in Kumeu, the same week as baby Taylor.
Since then, Taylor and big sister Shannon have enjoyed an idyllic country life. They've paddled and water-skied in the estuary and caught the school bus at the end of the drive. Toddler Shannon even helped plant the 50 pin-oaks that now frame the curving drive. As budding entrepreneurs, the kids grazed their own cows on the well-drained paddocks. Once the house arrived on site, the neighbourhood kids loved hurtling around the huge empty corridors.
For Mary and Garry, developing the property and renovating the spacious Californian bungalow has been a labour of love. "It never felt like work," says Mary. "It was a perfect family lifestyle."
The lush park-like gardens and ornamental borders are testament to the rich soil. And the generous proportions and fine detailing of that original Californian bungalow are still evident, including the name in stained glass over the front door. Mary credits Garry's engineering brain: "He saw we could make it into a home," she says, "and designed everything so carefully."
One of the first areas the couple restored was the "Rose Room" restaurant, now a spacious family room soaking up sunshine and estuary views. "We live in here," says Mary. The kitchen can accommodate a bevy of cooks with its granite benches, stainless-steel appliances and meticulous storage.
The massive wraparound porch boasts the original timber floors and turned kauri posts, but now overlooks the swimming pool and garden, not Rangitoto. Off the porch, the former reception room has been restored to an elegant living room (with sparkling chandelier) and study. Of course, they've hosted a wedding, with 100 guests easily sheltering in that spacious porch when the weather turned.
They planned ahead for all those parties. "Living in the country, it's great to have places for overnight guests," says Mary, so they collected Shoreville's stables and outbuildings to convert into self-contained accommodation. That is, in addition to the parking and workshops demanded by rural living.
Back inside, those spacious halls where the kids played are now carpeted galleries for Garry's collections, leading to four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The master bedroom is an Edwardian oasis overlooking the estuary, with a generous walk-in closet and bathroom. The other three bedrooms feature charming bevelled corner cupboards and brass fixtures. Mary's office is the former "brides' room" opening on to the porch - allowing for a last-minute runner perhaps?
A hidden elevator leads to the loft, converted to Garry's home office with another sunny porch and a bathroom. Masses of attic space conceal yet more treasures from Shoreville, awaiting future use. But even though they thought they'd stay forever, Mary and Garry are off to Africa to work with Namibian Kids (namibiankids.org.nz) leaving their piece of paradise for another lucky family to love.By Joanna Smith