20 Livingstone Street, Westmere.
SIZE: Land 713sq m, house 320sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: CV $1.875 million. Auction September 20 at 12pm on site.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 1-1.30pm.
SCHOOL ZONES: Westmere School, Ponsonby Intermediate, Western Springs College.
CONTACT: Wayne Bulog, Dan Reed, or Daniel Cowley, Unlimited Potential Realty, Wayne ph 021 2723 557, Dan 021 191 2225, or Daniel 021 050 7678.
FEATURES: Architect-designed two- storey home tucked away from street with large living spaces opening to private backyard with swimming pool. Underfloor heating and heat pumps.

A vague medium-term plan to move from the United States to New Zealand quickly became reality when Mel wandered into this architect-designed home.

She had already seen the home listed for sale on the internet and then, on a visit to Auckland, she came by Livingstone St for a look to find there was an open home on - and the rest is history.

US-born husband David was happy to take her word that the house was ideal for them, although he was bemused about one of the main selling points - that the kitchen has a drawer with adjustable pegs to hold different-sized plates in place as it is opened and closed.

But it's that sort of attention to detail and level of finishing that the couple enjoys about their home of six years.


"A lot of the design is really subtle and you don't really know why it works but it just really works," says David.

Although the home already had underfloor heating, Mel and David added heat pumps upstairs and even had one installed in the internal-access garage, which was handy when David was using it as his workshop.

Mel says, "We are used to living in LA where it's a dry climate and we really wanted a house that didn't have any dampness."

Thoughtfully designed by architect Peter Hill, the home was built about eight years ago by builder Craig Swney. Craig had removed the original house and had this home designed so it is tucked down on the site and follows its contours.

"It is very discreet from the street, which is what we liked about it," says Mel. "And it is quite an elegant solution to the site."

Screened from the street by a hedge, the property has terraced garden beds and a courtyard out front. Jasmine twines around this area, which features beds of vegetables.

"I like having the vegetable garden out here because I'm coming and going all the time so I see it all the time and I look after it," says Mel.

A double-height entrance way with glazing either side of the oversized front door gives a sense of light and space, a theme that is continued throughout the home courtesy of a high stud and open-plan living areas with extensive glazing covered in UV film.

At the front of the home is Mel's work room (or a fourth bedroom) and on the opposite side of the hallway is a media room with built-in bookshelves.

Past the bathroom and laundry, the house opens up into a dining area and family room/kitchen which are arranged in an L-shape around a sunken lounge. A double-sided gas fire sits between the dining area and the lounge. The U-shaped kitchen has plenty of workspace with stone benches on three sides, culminating in a large breakfast bar. The kitchen/family room and lounge open to the north-facing backyard, which has terraced gardens and a covered patio overlooking the swimming pool.

"It's a great house for entertaining because it has such an easy flow outdoors," says Mel. "Our friends are going to be very sad when we leave."

Upstairs there are three more bedrooms and two bathrooms, one an en suite to the master bedroom, which has a walk-in wardrobe and a balcony with views to the north and west across the neighbourhood.

With children living in the US and Britain, Mel and David are selling up and looking for more of a lock-up-and leave property so they can travel.

"It's a huge dilemma," says Mel. "We love our children but we love this house, too."