South-facing brick and tile with a mix of wooden and aluminium joinery was everything Liz French hated in a house.

When the real estate agent and Liz stopped outside the Pillans Point property, she didn't want to see any more than she could see from the street.

"Just get out of the car and come inside," the agent demanded. It was a lesson that served me well during my 10-year stint selling real estate," the now-freelance writer says.

"I discovered a big new open-plan addition with views across the Waikareao Estuary. The view sold it to me and, 22 years later, I still savour the way it changes every single day as the tides ebb and flow, the sun sets over the city and lights reflect in the water."

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Liz and partner Mark still have no curtains as they can't bear the hide the outlook.

Mark is a DIY expert who created new decks for the back and front to create a better outdoors living.

The original lounge became an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe on one side, and an office for Mark on the other.

The couple replaced the kitchen, which also has estuary views, with white and black Caboodle cabinetry topped with a teal Formica bench.

"This is a fantastic summer house but can be an ice box in cold weather, especially as there is no carpet, just rugs on matai and rimu floors.

''We've got a very efficient fire in the living area. Our bedroom gets the best sun so anyone coming into the front courtyard on a clear winter afternoon is likely to see us stretched out on the bed reading. I am a fresh air freak and Mark refuses to install more heating as long as I refuse to close windows."

Pillans Point is a wonderful place to live, Liz says.

"Both our neighbours have been here over 20 years too. It's fun walking and biking the local waterfront paths. I can feed my caffeine addiction at the cafe on Grange Rd 100 metres away, and pop into town in five minutes."

Among their favourite things in the home are two "climbing men" on the wall by the kitchen. They are from Soeur Design, handmade in resin and metal by a Thai artist.

"Appropriate, as the first time Mark took me away for a weekend we went to Hahei where he proceeded to launch me off the cliff above Cathedral Cove on an abseil he set up himself.

"The living area hints to my current mid-century bent. The 1970s chairs used to be in the sitting room of my family's Manawatu farmhouse. I had them recovered, one in bright aqua, the other in green to match the chartreuse couch. They sit comfortably beneath original works by local artists Antony Warnes and Dave Roy.

"As I devour a couple of novels a week one of my favourite parts of the house is the wall of bookshelves which flanks french doors. My grandfather's grandfather clock (all the way from York) stands in the hall and I'd never part with the dressing table Mum bought at the Feilding auction mart when I was 10. It has shared every home except my flat in London."

Liz says she is not a gardener so they have kept the top flat grounds around the house simple with repeated plantings.

The quarter acre section slopes to abut the estuary reserve.

"While we've spent years planting native trees and battling wandering jew, it is still a bit of a wilderness down there. Stone steps access a lower plateau where Mark and a mate recently built me a shady seat under the frangipani."