Having a sense of both physical and mental space is vital for Tania Clifton-Smith. The Auckland physiotherapist, who specialises in breathing pattern disorders, realises how the layout and flow of a house affect you psychologically. And because she grew up on a farm in the Manawatu with spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki, it runs in her blood not to settle for living and working in an environment in which she feels hemmed in.
Seven years ago, she and husband Terry were living two streets away with their daughters Olivia, now 11, and Jessica, 9. They had no intention of moving until Tania chanced upon an open home and was immediately captivated. "You come in the front door, and when you get inside this house it just opens right up.
"A house that is calm, has a sense of space and flows well is really important to me. That's my philosophy with my work, so it's what I want to reflect in my home life," says Tania, who runs her business, Breathing Works, partly from home.
Some aspects of the house were dated when the Smiths moved in. The garden was overgrown and needed fresh landscaping to make the most of the 1012sq m site, which has a swimming pool and mature trees, including towering palms.
Tania could immediately see how by slightly reconfiguring the main living spaces, including the kitchen, she could maximise the connection between them and the outdoor areas without having to alter the footprint of the three-level home, which was originally built as a bungalow in the 1920s.
The house also appealed to the couple because its multiple living spaces, five bedrooms and double, internal-access garage (which is currently used as a rumpus room) mean that everyone has somewhere they can go to do their own thing.
Outside, the Smiths have added a cabana and extended the back deck that opens off the family and dining room. They've also renovated the existing pool and its surrounds, and landscaped the garden, a project that included adding several fruit trees and some vegetable beds.
Tania jokes that she has also "touched" every single room in the house.
As well as redecorating, the substantial changes she and Terry made to the home included renovating three of the four bathrooms and adding a new kitchen that has been moved closer to the interconnecting family, dining and formal living rooms on the home's mid level.
The space created behind the new kitchen provided room for an office, a scullery and a large laundry that opens to a utility space linked to the back deck. This level also includes a bathroom and two bedrooms.
On the lower level, where you enter the house, is an internal-access garage, with room for two cars; a workshop; ample storage; and a light-filled guest bedroom with ranch sliders that open on to the garden.
The spacious front garden, complete with a trampoline and a tree hut, is an ideal playground.
The top level of the house includes two large bedrooms, each with its own en suite. From west-facing Whitney windows in the main bedroom, you look down over the back garden and swimming pool, and the second bedroom has views of Rangitoto Island from its own balcony.
This house has been everything the Smiths wanted, including being close to the Benson Rd and Upland Rd shops, and to good bus routes.