Park-side with the perfect panorama

By Joanna Smith

SIZE: Land 1118sq m, house 274sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: CV $1.4 million. Tender date May 1, 4pm (will not be sold prior).
INSPECT: Phone for private viewing.
SCHOOL ZONES: Royal Oak Primary, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Onehunga High School.
CONTACT: Simon Damerell, ph 021 661 304, or Josh Powell, 021 905 234, Ray White Ponsonby, 376 2186.
FEATURES: This home renovated and enlarged by the current owners and their architect Pete Bossley, one of New Zealand's renowned architects, has an entrance to Cornwall Park, with sheep at its front doorstep, and fantastic views over Epsom to the Waitakere Ranges and Manukau Harbour. It's a family home with a great contemporary feel.
34 Gladwin Rd, Epsom. Photo / Ted Baghurst
34 Gladwin Rd, Epsom. Photo / Ted Baghurst

One Tree Hill Domain is Christine Illingworth's favourite place in Auckland. During her frequent rambles around Cornwall Park, she befriended the original owners of 34 Gladwin Rd, one of only two houses with legal access to the Domain.

They shared an interest in art and photography, and when it came time to sell 15 years ago, they trusted Christine with their special property.

When Christine, Grant and their then-teenage children moved into the modest two-bedroom 1949 bungalow, they admired the panoramic views across the Waitakeres and Manukau Harbour, and engaged award-winning architect Pete Bossley for a renovation to maximise their potential.

Pete appreciated the slightly modernist touches of the home's post-war design, with its flat roof and oversized picture windows, and the Illingworths loved his first concept.

"I love the way he introduces light and angles," says Christine. "We were like-minded and worked so well together."

They kept the original front of the house and a few character touches, like the Art Deco fireplace, geometric ceiling mouldings and built-in cabinets. Pete's big move was to create a dramatic circulation spine, linking the Domain to the drama of the western views and opening to the new park-side bedroom wing.

The tall, steel framing and clerestory windows bring light and air deep into the house. Not to mention a frightened sheep that once bolted from the Domain and hurtled through the house.

A wire perimeter fence now contains the livestock, although the odd cow still wanders into the yard and the trees attract the local bird life.

The existing concrete terrace became an oversized outdoor living area, with Pete's signature oval cut-out in the ceiling.

"It's all wired for a louvre roof," Christine points out, "but we loved the views of the trees and the angles of the sunlight all year round."

A steel staircase and prow-like viewing platform tie the house to the sloping, bush-clad garden below, which is edged with classic volcanic-stone walls. Inside, the living room's original picture windows capture the mesmerising view. "It's like fairy-land," says Christine. "It's hard not to sit and watch from sunset as all the lights come on below us."

Christine designed the kitchen so she could gaze at the harbour. "I love the corner windows and the deck for my herbs," she says, "and the view is constantly changing."

A palette of white and linen-textured stainless steel contrasts with the rimu-topped island - which matches the original floors - and spot-lit marigold display nooks. The clerestory louvre windows are a nod to the home's mid-century beginnings and provide glimpses of the treetops.

The original master bedroom also opens to the terrace, and the original second bedroom became a walk-in wardrobe and en suite. Christine appreciates the shafts of light from the bank of louvre windows: "The blue glass tiles just glow."

Teenagers Sarah and Gregory got a whole new park-side wing. A step-down living area, with sunny window seats opening to a sheltered courtyard, connects three generous bedrooms and another mosaic-clad bathroom and toilet.

Built-in storage in each room mimics the original, with cabinets in one deep enough for a laundry. That's because the old basement has been adapted from a laundry, darkroom and studio to become a rumpus room, then a self-contained guest unit.

The addition of a bathroom and microwave in the spacious laundry gave Gregory a private space for his university years. Mates could climb up from the cul-de-sac on Gladwin Rd below, or via the garage off the Domain above.

The nest is now empty, so it's time for a third family to enjoy this park-side eyrie - with or without visiting sheep.

- NZ Herald

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