Family living just got better

By Donna Fleming

SIZE: Land 720sq m, house 168sq m (approx).
CV: $1.07 million.
AUCTION: Wednesday, November 13, 1.30pm.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 12.30-1pm, Wednesday 5.30-6pm.
SCHOOL ZONES: Westmere School, Pasadena Intermediate, Western Springs College.
CONTACT: Felicity Scott, Barfoot & Thompson, 0274 522 241 or 376 3039.
FEATURES: Renovated character bungalow with water views, private north-facing tropical garden, huge deck and fully fenced swimming pool. Usable basement with plenty of storage plus double carport, off-street parking and automatic gate. Close to Garnet Rd shops and Coxs Park.
109 West End Rd, Westmere. Photo / Ted Baghurst
109 West End Rd, Westmere. Photo / Ted Baghurst

It was the sea view that did it. The house was dark and dingy with a layout that didn't really work, however, the peep of the harbour was enough to convince Claire Donaldson to buy 109 West End Rd 19 years ago.

"I loved the idea of being able to see the water," says Claire. "Plus it was a good-sized section and so close to town. It wasn't a hard decision."

But the house still needed plenty of attention to turn it into the dream home Claire knew it could be. "The layout of the rooms wasn't very good - there was an internal room, and the laundry was in the sunny north-facing part of the house with the view, which was a complete waste. So things had to be moved around."

Introducing lots of light into the dark home was another priority. This was achieved by putting glass bifold doors across the north-facing back of the house and several skylights in the roof.

"We probably overdid the skylights but I really like them. You can never have too much light."

Building work started while Claire was pregnant with her first son, Byron, and was finished by the time he was born. "It wasn't great living in a building site - at one stage we even had an open-plan toilet. But it was worth it. It made such a difference."

The house has been the perfect place to bring up Byron, 17, and his brother, Conrad, 16, and has proved also suitable for teenagers.

Claire extended the very narrow deck to make it a huge space. When her boys were toddlers, the solid gate at the top of the stairs kept them safe. Later, they had the run of the flat lawn and the fully fenced swimming pool.

Claire also enjoys the pool. "You really could be anywhere in the world. And it is so peaceful and private. It feels like a sanctuary in the city."

Two living areas mean the boys and their friends can be in one while Claire can shut the doors for privacy in the other. The formal lounge has also proved flexible, doubling as another bedroom for visitors. The family room has a fireplace that keeps it cosy in winter but in summer the doors to the deck are almost constantly open to let the breeze through.

The open-plan kitchen with its curved bench is one of the features of the house and there are great views so Claire enjoy the water outlook while she cooks. She made sure the kitchen was big enough for several cooks at once, and there's room for several people to sit at the bench. "It's a very sociable kitchen."

The three bedrooms are at the front of the house. Claire's room has a corner windowseat that gets the morning sun and is the ideal spot to curl up with a book. A bedroom next to it was converted into a walk-in wardrobe with an en suite that has a particularly spacious shower.

The boys' bedrooms have plenty of storage, and there is also a family bathroom with separate toilet and adjoining laundry.

Bungalow features such as beamed ceilings and leadlight windows have been preserved and the house has all the elegance and charm of the 1920s with the convenience of 21st century living.

As well as being a very comfortable, practical home to live in, it is just a short stroll to Garnet Rd's cafes and shops and an easy walk to the water's edge and Cox's Bay.

"That was always good when the boys were younger."

But now the boys are older and not far off flying the nest. Claire wants to downsize so she can spend more time travelling.

- NZ Herald

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