Dunbar and Glenda Sloane met skiing at Mt Ruapehu 33 years ago. "I knocked her over and I thought, 'Oh, you're lovely'," Dunbar recalls. Two decades later, in 2000, the couple moved from Wellington to Auckland and built their spectacular home on an elevated site at Black Rock, Takapuna.
"We liked the idea of being able to hear the sea at night," Dunbar says.
Dunbar and Glenda commissioned old Wellington friends, architects Gordon and Craig Moller, to design their substantial house.
The father-and-son architects, who a few years earlier had designed Sky Tower, referenced the nautical location and made the most of the long, narrow site by designing the house with subtle, curved Oamaru stone walls, reminiscent of a ship's prow.
Dunbar and Glenda lived in Moller-designed studio accommodation at the bottom of the garden, near the water, while the main house was constructed over two years. These days, "the cabana" is a great place to stay for the couple's friends and business contacts, seven grandchildren and Dunbar's children, Christopher, Olivia, Julia and Dunbar jnr.
Dunbar Sloane is a name synonymous with auctioneering in New Zealand. There have been four generations of Dunbar Sloanes since the eponymous, Wellington-headquartered business was established in 1918 by the current Dunbar senior's grandfather.
Now 70, Dunbar senior is semi-retired and Dunbar jnr is at the helm. "He's doing a brilliant job," the elder Dunbar says proudly. The father-and-son team was shown at work in the popular television series, Auction House, a few years ago.
As you may expect, Dunbar senior and Glenda's house is full of fascinating art, artefacts, objets d'art and travel mementoes, although the contemporary architecture would also suit people with a more pared-back aesthetic.
"I wanted the house to be a big gallery," recalls Dunbar of his brief to the architects. Although the couple has some favourite art, other pieces are moved around. An ingenious system employing a series of brass studs, drilled in a line near the tops of the walls, allows paintings to be suspended from nylon and raised, lowered or moved sideways to suit. A bespoke artwork will remain with the house, though. Dunbar and Glenda's quirky kitchen walls are designed to look like a blackboard menu, with chalk-like script that is really white crayon. Also in the kitchen is a special chicken wire "coop" for taxidermied hens Maude and Myrtle. "They've been with us in every house and lay us a couple of eggs every day," Glenda quips.
Set down a driveway and behind a secure gate, the Sloanes' home is private and peaceful.
"That's what we love about it here," says Glenda, "the quietness, and the sea at night."
Not that it's always quiet. Glenda says they've had dinner parties for 20 in the home's loggia and often have soirees with friends playing guitar and a baby grand piano. Near the main open-plan living area, with its impressive stone-surround open fireplace, is a cosy media room/library with a schist-surround fireplace. Glenda's painting studio is alongside, where she creates art under her maiden name, Glenda Roberts. Upstairs are three en-suited bedrooms, with the master having pole position for sea views. A deck off this room is spacious enough for a breakfast table and a hot tub.
Artwork continues outside, with Voyager, a cast-bronze sculpture by Paul Dibble, available for purchase with the house. Glenda's piece, Lady Longneck, a giraffe sculpture, stands in the garden beside the path from the main house to the cabana.
After a decade here, the Sloanes are looking to downsize.
"Something simple where you can walk in and walk out with just one key," is how Dunbar puts it.