When Lesley and Ron Dennis' British friends visit their clifftop Waiake home, they think they're in a tropical resort. From the over-scaled front door, visitors are treated to breathtaking views across the swimming pool and pohutukawa to the Hauraki Gulf islands.
Family numbers have swelled in the nine years since they bought the house, too. "We've got both daughters and five grandchildren in Auckland now," says Lesley, "so this has been a real family house." The children disappear into the landscaped grounds, enjoying the swimming pool, flat lawn and Ron's lovingly built Wendy house.
In quieter moments, Lesley and Ron make a circuit round the shell paths and boardwalks to sit on the cliff's edge and watch ships go by in the channel. "We saw the view and we were committed," recalls Ron, "the house, not so much."
Luckily, their agent introduced them to award-winning Don Nelson Architecture. Don took a tired brick-and-tile house and worked with Lesley's scrap-book of ideas to deliver their wish-list.
Steel construction enables a series of distinctive curved walls, with capped columns, textured plaster finish and tiled roof reminiscent of Italian villas the Dennises loved on their travels.
Lesley specified warm-toned marble throughout, starting with the rough-hewn Travertine in the porte-cochere, transitioning to polished floors inside. "I wanted soft and sandy tones, like the beach," says Lesley. "The sea view provides all the colour."
From the double-height foyer, the curving walls are like waves opening out to deep, covered patios or intimate bay windows. The vast open-plan living room can soak up nearly 100 guests at party time. "The Travertine dining table seats all 11 of us for family dinners," says Ron. "It took six guys to lift it in, so it's staying right there."
The living area steps down towards a sunny curved conservatory window, with the dining space and second sitting area hugging the covered terrace. With central heating or heat pumps throughout, the living room's gas fire just adds winter ambience.
The curves and marble continue in the kitchen, where an over-sized island chopping block is mission control, across from the handy drinks servery. When it's only the two of them, Ron and Lesley can enjoy the view from a raised glass breakfast table.
Curving nooks upstairs and down have provided play spaces for the children, while the ground floor media room is a relaxing adult retreat alongside a charming children's bedroom and bathroom.
With so many visiting friends and family, Ron and Lesley specified two more spacious en suite bedrooms, one upstairs, one down. "It means visitors have their own space to retreat to," says Lesley. Both have private balconies and the endless sea views.
Upstairs, a generous bathroom, his-and-hers closets and another sheltered terrace create a luxurious master bedroom suite. "I got my dream bathtub," says Lesley of her spa bath set in another curved bay. "I can sit here with bubbles and admire the view."
Another bedroom and north-facing office complete the upstairs, reached by a sweeping staircase and Italian-style wrought iron balustrades.
Family and friends inevitably congregate on the terraces above the infinity pool, enjoying the resort lifestyle and 180-degree views. "It's been a real party house," says Lesley. "But now it's time for us to downsize and travel more."