In these days of children being carted around in the parent-taxi, their little feet barely touching the pavement or the bicycle pedal, it's refreshing to find a neighbourhood swarming with small people getting themselves to and from school.
Busy Stanley Point school is one such neighbourhood. When Denise and Graham Turley bought their Glen Rd house, almost opposite the school, their boys were 7 and 5 (with a 2-year old baby sister).
"The kids could walk over the road to school, or until it wasn't cool any more, bike to intermediate and Grammar," says Denise. "We look out over 'our' park - officially the Navy's but the kids all cut through here, play on the tennis court, ride their bikes on the private roadway. It then connects through to Stanley Bay Park. We love the views across the park to the sea, watching the changing tides. I didn't think we'd ever leave here."
But the couple have found a plot of land right on the water, further around the bay, to build their new house. In the 16 years they've been here the inevitable has happened anyway: the children are all grown and the baby girl is about to finish high school, so the new project is tempting them away.
Denise can pinpoint exactly the day they moved in - she was unpacking boxes in the kitchen as the news broke of Princess Diana's car accident. Somewhat like the princess, the house back then was signature 80s- pink carpets, apricot tiles in the bathroom, clunky dividers between formal and informal living spaces and unattractive joinery. But architect John D'Anvers, well known on the North Shore for his distinctive style, had given the house good bones when it was built 25 years ago.
Tucked down a private driveway, the house follows the drop of the site towards the sun and that view of the park and sea. The Turleys landscaped and terraced the entrance, adding a parking pad next to the double garage for the teenagers and their friends' cars. Inside the garage they added a mezzanine storage loft, custom parking for the fleet of bikes and plenty of room for utilities.
Inside, the house descends in a series of split levels, borrowing light. The couple opened up the core stairway with modern balustrades, replaced dividing doors with wood and glass french doors and refurbished using paint and carpet in a modern, neutral palette.
The opening between the kitchen and formal lounge was re-jigged and a new kitchen of taupe, stainless steel and composite granite bench installed. Streamlined storage and a generous bar makes this is the true heart of the home.
Windows were replaced but D'Anvers' signature nooks and angles for conversation corners and display areas remained.
Denise was careful to retain the sweeping ceilings of tongue and groove rimu, their architectural shapes adding energy to her neutral colours - the effect is timeless and smart. Off the formal lounge and dining room, a storage space became a compact office, thanks to generous sky-light (the kids dubbed it Harry Potter's cupboard, after more than one visiting student camped there on a mattress). Decks and sweeps of windows make the most of the views.
Downstairs is a well-arranged bedroom wing. Again, all the bathrooms (a guest loo is on the entrance level) and the generous laundry were refurbished by the Turleys, with feature tiles in a fresh turquoise in the master en suite. Each of the kid's rooms is a double and the master suite is generous with well-designed storage.
The ground floor opens on to the private tropical garden, where queen palms and bangalows have thrived in the sheltered micro-climate. Despite being in the heart of suburbia, you cannot see a single neighbour. There is even an area to park the boat, maximising proximity to the sea. Graham and the kids are only a few minutes' walk from Stanley Bay ferry.
It is easy to see the old-fashioned appeal of the neighbourhood, and how this park-side house could provide the ideal family hub.