Star couple's haven

By Sandra Goodwin

81 WARNOCK ST, WESTMERE
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2
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SIZE: Land 484sq m, house 245sq m (approx).
PRICE INDICATION: CV $1.21 million. Interest is expected upwards of $1.4m. Auction 1.30pm Wednesday, September 18 unless sold prior.
INSPECT: Sat/Sun 1-1.45pm, Wed 5.30-6pm.
ON THE WEB: barfoot.co.nz/504828
SCHOOL ZONES: Westmere School, Ponsonby Intermediate, Western Springs College.
CONTACT: Andre Bodde and Matt O'Brien, Barfoot & Thompson Ponsonby, ph 021 662 873 (Andre) or 021 687 866 (Matt).
FEATURES: Contemporary home laid out around a central courtyard with pool and spa. Open-plan living in main two-storey rear home, plus front studio with work-from-home versatility.
81 Warnock St, Grey Lynn. Photo / Ted Baghurst
81 Warnock St, Grey Lynn. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Rugby player Ali Williams and his wife Casey Green's unconventional property has allowed them to protect their family's privacy while enjoying life in the thick of things.

"This house is definitely incredibly private," says Casey. "Not only for Ali and I, but also for our friends. It's like a safe haven and everyone completely relaxes here."

Their street frontage is an unassuming Deco-era shopfront, minus its display windows, and is a five-minute drive from Ponsonby's strip and five-minute walk from the West Lynn shops or Westmere Primary.

Ali says: "There's a big concrete wall and you don't know what the house is like inside. And then you see this and, whoa - it's not what you expected."

The words "fruiterer" and "dairy" still adorn the shopfront but these days they preface a home served in two parts, cosseting a sun-drenched and private pool courtyard between them.

Family time with 5-month-old daughter Jessica tends to be in the main two-storey rear house, which exhibits strong architectural lines and airy open-plan living.

Casey didn't fancy a conventional villa, and spent more than two years spearheading their search for a home before they bought here nearly four years ago.

While living here, Casey and Ali became engaged, married and became parents.

"And it's been a very sociable home," says Ali. The house's nickname, "Bar Warnock", refers to the bar he had set up in the front studio section.

It's primarily been used as his man cave, containing some of his rugby memorabilia. Its office/lounge, accompanied by a bedroom and bathroom, opens wide to an entertaining deck with a sliding timber cover concealing a spa pool.

The separation from the main home gives over-nighting guests privacy, and helps Ali disengage from work when he leaves the office.

The couple added the pool-side day-bed alcove, and have even slept in it during a couple of Auckland's muggier February nights. Ali reckons it's like camping. The high-walled, central courtyard with salt-water pool is extremely sheltered but Yorkshire terrier Frankie and Sydney Silky terrier Cody aren't fans of the water.

The property has keyless entry, and its fencing and video-equipped intercom have made self-confessed "scaredy cat" Casey feel secure when Ali's touring.

Friends often come down the side driveway and enter directly into the main home's open-plan hub that wows with its double-height vaulted ceiling.

This is sarked in blond timber and braced with sail-like metal beams.

"As soon as I stepped in here I thought how well this beautiful high stud would suit Ali," Casey says.

Ali adds: "The high ceilings give you a sense that you've go so much space."

He gently ribs Casey over the lack of home-grown veges served in the kitchen, which is outfitted with stainless steel benches and a wide stainless stove.

There is a vegetable bed and rear patch of lawn behind the internal-access double garage (which incorporates a third toilet) but Casey's gardening attempts were short-lived, relegated behind her fitness business, which she'll soon oversee from France.

Ali had a hand in the design when he and a builder mate changed the direction of the stairs to open the kitchen: "I like things to look good but function even better."

The couple also re-tiled the pool and revised brighter elements in the home's colour scheme, which used to incorporate teal and mustard.

An upper hallway accesses the two bedrooms upstairs, which flank a renovated bathroom and a little study which has served as Jessica's room. Casey calls the spare double bedroom her "ward-room" for its generous built-in storage.

Celebrity stalkers take note: the couple have already packed up and moved out. In a couple of weeks, on the day Ali finishes his stint with radio station The Rock, they will fly out to France for Ali's one-year contract playing for Toulon.

- NZ Herald

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