It's funny how some houses have a media life of their own. The David Ponting-designed house on Arney Cres is one of them.
Built for Auckland property developer Simon Herbert and his fashion designer wife, Paula, the house featured in numerous stylish magazines around the time Paula was launching her leisure and swimwear range. Paula had a bit of a thing for Los Angeles designer Kelly Wearstler, and had fitted out the house in the stylish black and whites, punctuated with striking emerald greens and bronzes, that were the designer's trademark.
But then the couple set their eyes on John Sanders' striking Arts and Crafts house on Remuera Rd -- also featured in a fashion shoot or two -- and negotiated a property swap with John as part of a marriage property split four years ago. John and his four children, then teenagers, moved into the crisp, modern, Ponting property and started their new life.
"This was a safe haven for us all," explains John. "It worked for the four teenagers, it was a great place for the kids and all their friends. I liked the elevated views, we're not down in what I call the 'bowels' of the valley.
We've got northern sun and beautiful evening western sun all summer."
For a man who clearly loves antiques, John has found the modern tilt-slab walls and polished concrete floors a remarkably warm and versatile grounding for his gilt-framed portraits and Regency and Jacobean oak furniture. Fine craftsmanship works together in the home, whatever the century each component was made in.
John and the children found the large island bench in the kitchen a great congregating spot, with most of their meals eaten on the sheltered deck. Enormous sliding glass doors disappear into carefully engineered pockets to seamlessly connect indoors and out, louvres protect diners from Auckland's fickle hot sun or rainy evenings.
From here, the family enjoyed views extending across the valley all the way to Rangitoto Island, their privacy protected by clipped hedges. The infinity edge pool, which forms a rock sculpture wall for the ground floor, was the centre of summer weekends. A fireplace in the family room makes it a cosy gathering spot in the winter.
The house's layout was well thought through. The main floor, entered from a marble-paved walkway at mid-level, accommodates the informal living and kitchen, the formal living/dining room (with a further fireplace) and John's picture-lined study.
On the ground floor, an en suite bedroom with its own entrance has been versatile enough to work as designer Paula's studio/office and as John's artist daughter's bolt hole. Gracious hedges, lawns and paved terraces create a green haven downstairs, protected from neighbours or even upper-floor balconies.
On the second floor are suites of bedrooms. The master suite includes a bathroom, lined Wearstler-style in beautiful Carrera marble, as well as the expected fitted walk-in wardrobe. The bedroom, large enough for sitting, opens on to a terrace with views that John understates as "not half bad" (if you like sun, trees, ocean and Rangitoto, that is). Further kids' bedrooms and a family bathroom complete this floor.
But the one or two years that John had intended to stay at his safe haven have stretched into more than four, as the family found they enjoyed the peace the property offered. But now only one of the children remains. The rest have flown the nest and John is ready to move to an even quieter haven, a new place on Waiheke Island. Which means this photogenic house is ready to find the next owners to keep up its stylish history.