Marley and Tim Mueller have a random comment Marley made one evening to thank for their impressive home.
The pair were planning on renovating their 1970s Beazley home near Red Beach, and it occurred to Marley that it would be nice to be able to throw dinner parties for six to eight people once the work on the house was done.
"The dining room was so small that if you had another couple over, it was a very cosy meal," says Marley.
"So I said to Tim, 'What would happen if we took this wall out to make the dining room bigger?'."
He pointed out that the house "would fall down".
Marley realised that to get the bigger rooms she wanted, they'd need to do more than a simple renovation. So they decided to take the house back to its bare bones and rebuild it to get that extra space.
"We ended up doubling its size."
Sketches jotted down on the back of envelopes became the basis of plans drawn up by architectural designer Lynda Murphy of Paperspaces and brought to life by builders The House Company.
"We liked Lynda's design so much she's doing our next house for us," says Marley. "And when we flipped through real estate magazines, the houses we liked the look of most turned out to be built by The House Company, so they were the obvious choice. We were very happy with the way everything turned out."
In place of the two-story L-shaped home that Marley had bought back in 1990, they have ended up with a practically new striking contemporary house spread over three levels.
Transforming it was a major undertaking - Marley and Tim stayed with friends for 11 months while the building work was done in 2010.
But it was well worth the inconvenience.
"It's got a mono-pitch roof, good clean lines, Tasmanian oak flooring and lots of glass and stainless steel," says Marley. "We love it."
One thing on Marley's wish list was a yoga room, where she teaches yoga once a week.
Lined with plywood, this room on the ground floor across the hall from the double garage would also make a great kids' playroom or teenage retreat.
Next door is a spacious room that started out as Tim's man cave and a place to store boxes but gradually morphed into a wine cellar. Also on the lower level is a laundry and toilet.
The middle level houses three bedrooms (one of which Tim and Marley use as an office), the bathroom and separate toilet, and the open plan living/dining/kitchen.
The living area opens out on to an expansive deck that is partly covered so it gets used for much of the year.
There's more than enough room for eight people around the dining table, and the stylish gourmet kitchen has plenty of bench and cupboard space.
The woodburning fireplace in the living room throws out the heat and Marley loves pulling up a beanbag and reading in front of it in winter.
The upper level is Tim and Marley's sanctuary. As well as a large master bedroom with en suite and walk-in-wardrobe, there is a sitting area.
"If we've got guests and want a bit of privacy we can stay up here," says Marley. "We had another couple and their three teenagers come to stay once and there was plenty of room for everyone."
Another bonus of the house is the privacy afforded by the many mature trees on the property. "You can't really see the neighbours at all," says Marley.
Tim and Marley have loved living on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and made good use of the local attractions. Red Beach is just 1km away, and even closer is the Orewa estuary.
"We often pop down there for a quick swim - it's only 200m from the end of the driveway."
It's now time for a change in lifestyle. Tim and Marley are off to the South Island to enjoy mountains, lakes and skiing.