Bush retreat in the bays

By Penny Lewis

SIZE: Land 1189sq m, house 302sq m.
PRICE INDICATION: Buyer interest expected at $1.7 million-plus. Auction March 27.
INSPECT: Sunday 1-1.30pm.
ON THE WEB: bayleys.co.nz/4106915
SCHOOL ZONES: St Heliers School, Glendowie College.
CONTACT: Gary and Vicki Wallace, Bayleys, ph 0274 988 585 (Gary) or 021 988 585 (Vicki).
FEATURES: Architecturally designed home in quiet, private bush setting with a range of indoor and outdoor living areas. Master suite with sculptural stand-alone bath. Close to St Heliers village and beaches.
48c Tarawera Tce, St Heliers. Photo / Ted Baghurst
48c Tarawera Tce, St Heliers. Photo / Ted Baghurst

After returning from overseas, Auckland couple Kate and Adam started looking for a home for themselves and the baby they were expecting.

Staying with family in St Heliers, they searched for a year. "We really love 1960s design and hoped to find a 1960s house, but it turned out other people had the same idea, too," Kate recalls.

Finally, when son Georg was 6 months old, they happened upon this 4-year-old home in a bush setting, set in an enclave off Tarawera Tce.

The previous owners had commissioned architects Fearon Hay to design the cedar-clad house, which was built in 2000. Jeff Fearon and Tim Hay were not long into their careers but they had already won awards, earning a Home of the Year accolade for their work on a beach house.

The architects' talents are still apparent more than a dozen years later. "This is a very light, bright and welcoming home, with an easy flow inside and out," Kate says. The young family moved in with little furniture but soon started collecting their much-loved mid-century pieces. Despite the house not being the vintage they envisaged, it has provided the best of both worlds - a contemporary aesthetic sympathetic to the 1960s look, combined with modern conveniences such as plenty of storage.

"And there was no need to renovate," Kate adds.

Georg is now 8 and he and younger brother Charlie, 6, have loved exploring the bush around the property and playing on a grassy courtyard area at the rear of the house. The boys also love seeing wood pigeons feeding among the trees.

Kate and Adam enjoy the home's split-level living spaces - the dining area next to the kitchen gives way to a cosy television lounge with a full-height slider that overlooks a water feature, which graces the approach to the oversized pivoting front door. The main living area, with limestone floors and underfloor heating, is stepped above the dining space. A wood-burning open fireplace is a focus in winter, while in summer a limestone ledge that runs the length of the room under an expanse of glass louvres is a cool place to sit and read. Another spot to relax is the sunny deck, under the shade of a kanuka tree.

In keeping with the sculptural quality of the house, the centrepiece of the kitchen is a custom-designed stainless steel rangehood above a timber-topped island bench. The cooktop is gas while the oven is an under-bench 900mm Ilve.

Upstairs, there is a study/fourth bedroom with plenty of built-in storage. Georg and Charlie's bedrooms each have walk-in wardrobes, while there is also a tiled family bathroom with a large bath and separate shower. The master suite has its owned tiled bathroom with a shower, along with a walk-through wardrobe. Like a luxury hotel, the master bedroom has a stand-alone bath on a plinth in one corner, with a view out through glass louvres to the canopy of trees.

"It's a really comfortable house," says Kate. Despite its bush setting, the house is bathed in sunshine while natural cross-ventilation helps keep it cool. The privacy and quiet are also appreciated. "Just about everyone who comes here says you would never know we're here," says Kate. "There is no road noise at all."

Although this family has loved their time in this house, after eight years it is now time for a change.

- NZ Herald

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