By Sandra Goodwin

There's no one winning formula for a fine upgrade of a home but a wife with fashion design in her past and a husband who calls himself a frustrated architect were behind this one.

Jilly and John Statham farewelled years of living in central Auckland suburbs for this address seven years ago to be closer to John's Orewa-based daughter and grandchildren.

John says: "We knew we wanted to live somewhere on this peninsula. We walk along Stanmore Bay's beautiful beach most mornings now we've retired and it only takes us about four minutes on foot to get to it."

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Jilly finished her career in an executive assistant role but years earlier designed hand-knit patterns, also applying her creative talents to the interior design of all the homes they've lived in.

Alfa Romeo and Fiat featured most recently in John's career as a car sales manager.

"But I'm a frustrated architect," he says.

"I designed the signature wooden letterbox for this house, wanting something with a bit of flair. And I did the design for the rear loggia with outdoor fireplace we use so much, before handing it over to an architect."

This home was around three years old when they bought here, liking its peaceful setting but knowing they'd adapt it to their tastes.

John says: "We're passionate about the difference good landscape design can make."

Jilly says: "In fact we moved in on a Saturday and had our landscaper start work on the Monday."

2 Andre Rise, Stanmore Bay, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images
2 Andre Rise, Stanmore Bay, Auckland. Photo / Fiona Goodall / Getty Images

John's letterbox framed within sleepers heralds the start of entry steps they upgraded and made into an attractive feature, flanked with native plants.

Jilly likes the way the entry foyer introduces double doors opening into the big lounge, providing a view right through into the rear garden.

"I love the big open space and the flow," she says, standing in the wide lounge that houses her baby grand piano 'Delilah' and features a gas fireplace. The cosy snug off the lounge is one of the spaces they used feature wallpaper to enhance.

The neighbouring kitchen-dining came already well outfitted with two ovens, stone bench tops and Brazilian walnut flooring but they replaced a reddish splashback for a more neutral tone.

Jilly says: "We just love entertaining and we can do it indoors or outdoors whatever the weather because as well as all our decks we have this lovely loggia with fireplace outside."

The inviting space opening off the kitchen is a covered outdoor room with speakers and a wood-burning fireplace within a wall of schist.

They had the whole garden re-landscaped by Taylor Gray Landscaping. You'll often find their fine specimen of a cat Charlie in it, brushing past John's collection of vintage chimney pots.

John says: "It all relates so well to the inside."

Three double bedrooms include one opening to decking andone near that accordion-player John uses as an office near the family bathroom.

Other improvements the couple have made include fitting quality curtaining and sunscreens plus shutters in bathrooms, hanging two contemporary chandeliers and creating flow out to the loggia by adding extra ranch sliders.

The home has an internal-access double garage with laundry, off-street parking and lockable under-house storage-workshop space.

The couple would love to stay here but are planning to move somewhere with simpler grounds to maintain.

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