Ripe and flourishing Herne Bay villa

By Robyn Welsh

29 Herne Bay Rd, Herne Bay.
SIZE: Land (approx) 807sq m, house (approx) 200sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: CV $2.5million. Auction August 9.
INSPECT: Sunday 1-1.30pm
SCHOOL ZONES: Bayfield Primary, Ponsonby Intermediate, Auckland Girls' Grammar, Western Springs College.
CONTACT: Jan George or Aaron Haabjoem, Ray White Ponsonby, ph Jan 027 4784 119, Aaron 021469 226
FEATURES: Century-old traditional villa with generous verandas. Two gas fireplaces. Large potting shed, two water tanks, 37 fruit trees, separate garage. Off-street parking for three or more cars.
29 Herne Bay Rd, Herne Bay. Photo / Ted Baghurst
29 Herne Bay Rd, Herne Bay. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Bruce Day gets to enjoy the most delicious reminder of his investment in this property every time he pulls open the bi-fold doors of his food pantry.

It's the blast of colour from the rows of preserves that greets him and his partner Gaye Aarons when they're cooking together using the fruit they've picked and bottled from some of the 37 fruit trees that make up their orchard.

It was Bruce's late wife, Mary, who planted most of those trees in their early days here and it has been the diligence of everyone who has pruned and watered in the decades since that has ensured such abundant returns.

Bruce Day, a former local real estate agent, bought this 1910 villa about 40 years ago.

He retained it as two tenanted flats for a couple of years before moving in and starting renovations to return it to a home and make the most of the best features that had been put in by previous owners in the 1920s.

Some earlier renovations included the beautiful bungalow beam and panel ceilings.

The permit for the garage is dated 1926, and Bruce believes that this makes this house one of the earliest villa renovations in the street.

Bruce's own attention to detail has included replacing old, painted kauri skirting boards and architraves with new, machined, unpainted rimu boards that complement the use of natural timber elsewhere in the house.

Downstairs, a wrap-around rimu bookcase is a feature of the library.

In the day room alongside the kitchen, new tongue-and-groove panelling is a feature of the sloping ceiling. Timber pelmets hide discreet lighting above the mirrors in the bathrooms. In the master bedroom there is a kauri shelf with villa corbels.

Original details include the glazed Victorian tiles on the hearth.

Some original features had been covered up during previous incarnations, as was typical of many villa renovations.

Architect Graham Pitts suggested French doors be installed to open the lounge to the front veranda.

When the builders began work, they discovered the framework of the original French doors behind the wall linings.

Bruce is proud of the craftsmanship in his home. Replacement veranda balusters were hand-turned to match originals.

Similarly, original fretwork across the front of the house was replicated to replace some unusable portions.

The leadlight front door was also rebuilt using the original coloured glass.

Inside, part of the rear hallway was closed off and it yielded valuable floor-to-ceiling storage.

The new upstairs studio addition comprises an open-plan lounge/guest bedroom with perimeter storage, two dormer windows and small balcony overlooking the garden.

The bathroom/en suite is off to the left at the top of the stairs.

Daily life here for Bruce and Gaye these days begins when they pick an orange or two to juice for breakfast from the tree by the potting shed.

When the orange tree by the day room is laden with fruit, they need only open the window to make their choice.

Two large tanks by the garage store rainwater to feed this garden, whose trees were chosen to ensure an endless supply of fruit every month of the year - whether it is any of the variety of citrus, persimmons, feijoas, quince, pears, figs and apples.

Throughout the garden, sweetened water in bright red dishes feed the tui that flock here.

On summer evenings, Bruce and Gaye sit out on the veranda off their lounge and enjoy an evening drink.

They wave to the locals strolling down to the beach for an evening swim or take in the view down Upton St to the sun setting in the west.

Now they're looking to do it all again further north, as part of a new lifestyle project.

- NZ Herald

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