85 Marine Parade, Herne Bay
SIZE: Land share of 862sq m; house 228sq m (approx).
PRICE INDICATION: CV $1.56 million. Auction October 10.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 3-3.30pm.
SCHOOL ZONES: Bayfield Primary, Ponsonby Intermediate, Western Springs College, Auckland Girls' Grammar.
CONTACT: Pene Milne, Premium Real Estate, ph 021 919 940 or 360 6996.
FEATURES: Simon Carnachan- designed mid-1980s house on cross- leased site. Two living areas, office, two bathrooms plus powder room, two open fires, central heating, separate laundry, powder room, double internal access garage with rear opening door to courtyard. In-ground pool.

How tastes change over time. When Colleen Hodge first saw this newly built home some 25 years ago, she remembers thinking that it was "shockingly modern".

Two years ago Colleen and her husband, Steve Murphy, walked through these doors as the new owners, with the benefit of years spent raising their children and honing their appreciation for the design aesthetic they wanted for their sociable family lifestyle.

As a result, they have loved this home as much for its sheer personality as its versatility. "It is quirky and it is eccentric and it shows off all the strengths of that 1980s period," says Colleen. "It has been beautifully designed for this site. It collects every bit of sunlight that this site offers. It really has been brilliantly engineered."

Few people get up this close and personal with a house, never realising that they'll end up living there. But this was the opportunity that an acquaintance of Colleen's extended to her back in the mid 1980s when she and her husband had this Simon Carnachan-designed house built.


Says Colleen, "I was in it when it was newly built and I remember that the couple who built it had taken a great deal of care about the house."

For the Murphy family, this home has appealed on all fronts. One of Colleen's favourite spots is her chair beside the family room fireplace. "I always wanted somewhere to sit in the kitchen area rather than at the table," she explains. "Steve is the cook here and I can sit here and talk to him in the kitchen."

Or nip out to clip some herbs that flourish in pockets throughout the rear retaining wall that is a lush backdrop to her sunny spot. Or pass food from the barbecue on the opposite side of the kitchen to guests dining al fresco in summer in the shade of the grape-laden pergola around the perimeter of the terracotta-tiled courtyard and the in-ground pool. "It is a big canopy" she says of that vine and the climbing rose. "I just fell in love with it, and that walled courtyard."

The house, with its white-tiled floors downstairs and its white walls, has many more original features that are personal favourites of Steve and Colleen.

Their books fill the built-in shelves in the split-level lounge that has the same matching open fireplace, raised tiled hearth and corner picture window as the family room.

The white kitchen has a large, return black granite bench and it is perfect for large-scale entertaining, they say.

There is plenty of space to move within the kitchen, lots of bench space for meal preparation, and ample purpose-built storage behind the bench by the dining table for CDs and DVDs. Says Steve: "We'll light a fire in the lounge to entice guests through there but they like to hang around here just as much."

The separate laundry has significant bench space and storage. Says Colleen, "Every bit of space is well used."

Upstairs, the bedrooms, the family bathroom and the built-in study area make up the mezzanine level. The master bedroom is directly above the lounge, which left Colleen with that "shockingly modern" memory of that first visit. The roof window above their bed is rather special. "You get to see the day arrive. We see rainbows, birds and aeroplanes. Auckland's sky always changes so quickly. It is so quiet and we love that."

They'll certainly miss this dramatic perspective as they downsize so they can travel more to visit family based in London.