Having grown up in the English countryside, Sue Beuvink loves open spaces. In keeping with that, she has always managed to find a home adjoining a reserve since moving to New Zealand.
So it seemed to be fate when the search for a family home led her to 12 Le Roy Tce, beside Le Roys Bush.
The existing 1940s house, in "original condition", wasn't going to suit a family with three children so it took planning to build a home to do justice to the 1530sq m site that backs on to the bush reserve.
Because the property is in a heritage zone, heritage architect Dave Pearson was called upon to design a character home with modern comforts such as smart wiring, surround sound, heat pumps and a central vacuum. He came up with an Arts & Crafts-inspired design with interlinking living spaces on the main floor of the three-level home. Cedar weatherboards and multi-paned detailing of windows and shingles on the gable ends of the home provide the character look although there are modern departures such as skylights and a glass balustrade around the tiled terrace and swimming pool.
Set back from the road down a right of way, the home has Le Roys Bush to the north and east, with an accessway beside the drive.
Entry is on the main level, where an airy foyer leads to the defined spaces of kitchen, dining and living rooms, which open into each other.
The large kitchen with stone benches was designed as a triangle for Sue to work in easily, with space for the kids' own food preparation.
From the kitchen, there is an easy flow to the dining space and the lounge, which has a gas fire. These living areas open to a partially covered east-facing terrace, which overlooks the in-ground heated swimming pool.
"The swimming pool is in the sunniest spot and we also sited it there because you have got good visibility from the kitchen," says Sue.
On the main level there is also one bedroom, a bathroom and a separate laundry.
Upstairs are three more bedrooms, spread around an open-plan central living area.
"I like to sit up here with a book but it is also good for children because you have the computer out here in the open space," says Sue.
On this level, the main bathroom has the re-enamelled bath from the original home. The master suite has its own bathroom with spa bath, a walk-in wardrobe and a balcony overlooking the lawn and swimming pool.
Sue says, "In summer time or sunny winter mornings I like to throw open the doors to the balcony and listen to the birds."
On the ground floor, a large rumpus room with polished concrete floor opens out to the lawn, garden and pool.
"When the kids had parties here we would roll the carpet up and hose down the concrete floor afterwards," laughs Sue.
Also on this level is a 900-bottle wine cellar kept secure by a keycode lock so there would be no raids during those parties.
Part of the original house, which sits to the west of the new home, was kept and renovated as self-contained accommodation for visiting friends and family. Sue has also rented it out to holidaying people from all over the world.
The brick exterior was rendered and the interior updated, although the matai floors were retained. It has its own private courtyard, part of the extensive landscaping around the house that has mainly employed native plants to blend in with the bush backdrop.
Sue is selling up as she has plans to pursue a similar project nearby.By Graham Hepburn