"This house reminded us of something out of the Hollywood hills when we first saw it," says Maron Clague of the home she and John McCabe bought three years ago. The couple, both dentists, had intended to build from scratch after selling their previous home, a mid-century home in Meadowbank.
"We wanted a bit of a project," Maron says. The couple looked for older homes that could be removed from large sites in Remuera but were outbid at two auctions. Plans changed when a real estate agent showed John this large home, set down a driveway in Seaview Rd. "It was great for us. We could relax," says Maron. "There was a lot of land and the house was far better than what we thought we could get."
Maron and John particularly admired the home's ceiling angles and windows. "All the spaces inside were fantastic and we loved all the outside space," Maron recalls. There was plenty of room for the couple and their children, Alicia, now 18, and Jonathan, 7.
The concrete masonry and timber-framed house was designed in 1970 by architect John Sinclair as a family home for property investor James Kirkpatrick. "It was built to a good standard," the architect says. "It was innovative for its time, with its kind of forms subsequently reflected in other buildings."
Fortunately, much of the house's original features have been left intact, retaining its character. As well as archways and curved balcony balusters, indicative of the fashion for Spanish-style design that came into favour during the 1970s, the house still has its bronze-hued aluminium joinery. "When I think back to the time, the most economic joinery was timber, then steel and then aluminium [was the most expensive]," Sinclair says.
The house's architectural pedigree and its spacious proportions are a perfect backdrop for Maron and John's collection of 20th century classic and avant-garde furniture. Brought from the family's previous home, the collection includes a sinuous mass of purple velvet in the family's Edra Boa sofa, designed by the Campana brothers, and George Nelson's Coconut chairs and Marshmallow sofa, which Maron and John have in their main living and dining area. Rather than being untouched, like works of art in a gallery, these pieces are used by the family as everyday household furniture. John also runs the website minimadesign.com
"Design is John's passion," Maron says.
The house is not visible from the road and although it's set in an enclave of homes it is private and sunny. The drive sweeps around to a triple-car garage, alongside a tiled area outside the front door, which flows around to a pool and garden. Maron and John retained much of the planting undertaken by previous owners, but converted a fish pond back into a pool, true to what had been designed in the 1970s.
Inside, the house's lowest level contains a parquet-floored entrance foyer and internal access to the garage, plus a large rumpus room and extra-large bedroom with an en suite.
The middle level contains expansive living areas, the main room complete with a sculptural open fireplace. The master bedroom, with an en suite and walk-in wardrobe, is close by and there are three further bedrooms and newly renovated bathroom in a "children's wing" at the other end of the house. A ranch-slider off the recently added kitchen and the dining room leads to a balcony spacious enough to accommodate an outdoor dining setting. The middle level also contains a separate laundry and powder room. The home's uppermost level has a large storage cupboard and mezzanine office.
Maron and John have had to do little to this spacious and impressive home. Besides adding the new bathroom near Alicia and Jonathan's bedrooms and reinstating the pool, they have also painted. "We wouldn't be selling if we weren't moving to Australia," Maron says. John is already there, with Maron and the children making the move to Melbourne soon.