Privacy and luxury merge in a three-level hideaway that intentionally resembles a top-of-the-line resort, writes Donna Fleming
From the outside this Parnell home looks deceptively small and simple, which is exactly what the owners, Andrea and Greg, intended.
However, the automated car turntable in the drive and the enormous zinc front door are clues there's far more to the house than at first greets the eye. Once you step through that impressive door it's immediately clear that this is a spectacular home on a grand scale.
"We wanted the house to hunker down into the landscape and reveal itself once you came in the front door," explains Andrea.
It certainly does that, opening into the top of three levels, each built to the highest standard with quality materials.
The couple decided to build a house when they returned to New Zealand after living overseas and couldn't find a suitable existing home.
They bought an overgrown, sloping section in a popular pocket of Parnell and commissioned architect Kerry Avery to design it.
"The brief we gave him was that we wanted a functional family home that felt like a luxury resort. We're very, very happy with the result."
The home was two years in the planning and took another two and a half to build. When it came to the layout and materials they were guided by Kerry's expertise, but they did have some clear ideas of what they wanted, and the building experience gave Andrea the chance to flex her creativity in choosing the decor.
"We'd never done this before but this was such an enjoyable experience," she says, noting how she opted for a palette that reflects New Zealand's earthy tones.
Careful thought went into every centimetre of the house, from the limestone floors and solid American oak doors to the handcrafted handrails. Many details are not immediately obvious - like the automated system that controls heating, lighting, sound and blinds, or the heated panel in the laundry for drying clothes in all weathers - but they combine to make this a home that is a delight to live in.
There are outstanding features that instantly impress, like the glass lift at the centre of the house. "We always wanted a lift and Greg and Kerry wanted it to be something special," says Andrea. "It looks especially amazing at night when it is lit up."
In the Morgan Cronin-designed kitchen the piece de resistance is the verde bamboo granite benchtop, which took 10 men to carry. Meanwhile, sleek cabinetry in the kitchen gives an impression of simplicity, but that's a ruse, says Andrea. "There's a lot to this kitchen but much of it is tucked away, like the wine fridge."
The kitchen is on the top level with informal sitting and dining spaces, formal living room and a cloakroom. Glass doors from all the living areas lead out to covered deck that has infra-red heaters and automated louvres to let the sun in.
The middle level houses the media room with giant screen, a temperature-controlled wine cellar and an ergonomically designed laundry, plus three bedrooms. The children's bedrooms each have en suites and open on to decks, while the enormous master bedroom is reminiscent of a suite at a five-star hotel. It has its own deck, gas fire and a hand-painted French silk panel behind the bed, plus a luxurious en suite and huge walk-in wardrobe.
The lower level features a large rumpus room/gym with kitchenette, an office and a guest suite. Doors from these rooms open on to a covered terrace, the heated swimming pool and landscaped garden.
The house has been a sanctuary for the family for three years. "It's a tranquil place where we can escape busy city life, but it is also a functional family home that has worked so well for us," Andrea says.
They love living there, but enjoyed the creativity of the building process so much they want to do it all again.