By the time Gail Hood steps into her gourmet kitchen each morning she's been thoroughly immersed in her property's splendid cliff-top views.
She wakes up invigorated by the ocean outlook from the upstairs master suite of her solid masonry home. Ascending the wide staircase to the lower level she's face-to-face with sensational views to Browns Island and beyond. "It's an incredible way to start the day," she says with a smile.
She and late husband Ben were well aware of the sort of vista they'd enjoy by building here just over a decade ago, as Gail's brother had lived in a neighbouring property many years before. When Ben retired they decided to build to achieve just the right home, commissioning David Irwin for its design. They wanted a sense of spaciousness but not to have so many rooms that some were unused.
They were delighted with the resulting home, which stands majestically on its large cliff-top grounds. "It's been beautiful and it's also a very sound, solid, warm home," Gail says.
First-time visitors' jaws invariably drop when they encounter the glorious views, ever-changing with yachts, ferries and abseilers. "It's so peaceful and calm. On a clear day you can see Coromandel."
The property is mainly screened behind planting atop a low wall cascading with rosemary. Automatic driveway gates and a wrought iron pedestrian gate open to the driveway, off-street parking and internal-access double garage entrance. Strass Landscape Developers beautifully defined the grounds into different spaces, such as the hedged front pool garden with heated pool, adored by Gail's two young grandsons, 7-year-old Joseph and 5-year-old Ryan.
The entry foyer-corridor, with angled ceiling high above, shows this is a home where the luxury of spaciousness is valued. It flows through to the open-plan lounge-dining room looking out to Browns Island and beyond, which in turn opens wide to a loggia outside. It's a great spot for outdoor entertaining, but Gail's favourite place to admire the view is a cliff-side bench fronting the lawn. "It's a particularly lovely spot to sit on a summer's evening with a glass of wine."
Inside, decorative touches include an antique French chandelier above the dining area and the outer surround to the lounge's gas fire, given an antique effect by a craftsman painter.
Decorative dentil moulding gives the gourmet kitchen designed by Morgan Cronin an English ambience. It has a butler's pantry and granite benches which also feature in a corner housekeeping desk.
Exploring the rest of the stylish home, a couple of patterns appear; storage is huge and bathrooms or en suites are elegantly classical with marble and custom-designed mirrors.
Wide stairs rise to the upper level, where a corridor runs between two bedrooms for privacy. The front master suite opens to a covered front balcony delivering a more elevated version of downstairs' dreamy view. The suite includes a seating area, a bank of wardrobes and a spacious en suite. The suite's fire-door references Ben's career in fire protection. The grandchildren enjoy sleeping over in the other upstairs bedroom, which also has its own en suite.
Visiting guests are hosted in a large downstairs bedroom with en suite. This opens to a manicured courtyard with a sinuous water feature called "The Diva". This steps up to another courtyard, providing a choice of outdoor areas. Gail uses the fourth bedroom with built-in oak cabinetry as an office and it was a favourite spot of Ben's to watch soccer. There's also a downstairs bathroom and a streamlined laundry.
Gail plans to split the next few years between NZ and Britain (where one of her two children lives) so she will buy a lock-up-and-leave property handy to her young grandsons.