A Narnia classic hidden from view

By Joanna Smith

SIZE: Land 1222sq m, house 342sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Early $3 millions. Auction on site 6pm Thursday, February 21 (unless sold prior).
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 2-2.30 p.m.
SCHOOL ZONES: Victoria Ave Primary, Epsom Girls' Grammar and Auckland Grammar.
CONTACT: Steen Nielsen, Ray White Remuera, ph 0275 578 336 or 520 7661.
FEATURES: 1970s Terry Hitchcock design with 2002 rejuvenation by Simon Pirie. Peaceful and private right-of-way position. Living/dining areas open to expansive outdoor entertaining spaces and level fully fenced, north-facing grounds.
73A Arney Road, Remuera. Photo / Ted Baghurst
73A Arney Road, Remuera. Photo / Ted Baghurst

There was a romantic spirit to 1970s architecture, epitomised by the "new colonial" movement. Architect Terry Hitchcock was considered a master, and the Webbs' 1974 Remuera home is typical of that genre - solid construction, pitched roofs and handcrafted detailing in the spirit of our colonial pioneers.

Present owner Paul Webb decided within minutes that he loved it. "It was a rainy day, but I just knew it was right," he says, "and a solid house is a good house."

His wife, Rosemary, was taken with the downstairs flow and the quirky upstairs. "It's like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," she says, referring to the master bedroom's link to the children's rooms.

Previous owners renovated in 2002 with architect Simon Pirie, adding a pool and a sympathetic kitchen update. With two young children, the Webbs concentrated on developing a safe play yard and light-filled, modern bathrooms.

Nestled down a quiet right-of-way, the house is completely sheltered. "We have our own little micro-climate," says Paul. Outside, they can choose between sunny terraces by the pool and hot-tub, or a deep shady patio off the dining room.

"It's great when the adults are around the barbie, with kids watching DVDs in the family room next door," says Rosemary. Or, more often, the kids are playing on the eastern side of the house, where recycled brick forms tidy terracing.

The family has loved having two living spaces, revolving around the central kitchen.

"When the kids are in bed, we can retire in here and watch TV," says Paul of the beamed main living room and its cosy gas fire. The craftsman touch is evident in the heavy plastered walls and cast-iron detailing on the whitewashed beams. Walls of folding doors and a window seat in the adjoining dining room bring in all day winter sun, soaked up by the polished brick floors.

The kitchen continues the traditional theme, with solid timber joinery (stained a soft blue/grey), dark granite counters and double-oven range. "Storage is squeezed in everywhere," says Paul, pointing out the butler's pantry and matching storage units in the adjoining family room.

The private back hall and stairs to the kids' rooms recall older-style planning too. A massive laundry opens to the play yard, admitting children and swimmers to a newly refurbished bathroom that also opens to the entry hall.

Two wings with steeply pitched roofs, finished with timber shingles and copper downspouts, conceal the upstairs bedrooms. The steeply pitched ceilings in the two kids' rooms feel like a fairy-tale cottage. The same smart tiling clads their shower and bathroom, and tons of storage line the hall to what Rosemary calls the quirky secret entrance to the master bedroom.

Paul recalls the instant appeal of the master bedroom's pitched ceiling: "It was different but just felt right." A Juliet balcony pulls in breezes on hot nights and is a favourite bed for the dog. Rosemary enjoys having three wardrobes, including a walk-in closet that leads to the luxurious tiled bathroom with its sculptured oval tub (and out again to the kids' wing).

She's also taken over one of the three bays in the garage as a gym, to supplement all the walks to the nearby dog park. If work calls, there's a separate study off the entrance hall.

Above the garage, another pitched-roof wing houses a self-contained suite. With its own bathroom and kitchenette, it's hosted many guests, although it would work well for teens or grandmothers.

The family has enjoyed this private corner of town, within a walk of Newmarket, but now the beach lifestyle is calling.

- NZ Herald

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