Louise Eckhoff has clear views on what a house should be and how it should function for her family. It was this view that drove the renovation of the grand old home on the cul de sac of Ridings Rd, off Remuera Rd.

"I believe in the William Morris philosophy of having nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful," she says. "This might be a big house, but I've tried to create different living spaces so every room really works hard and has a purpose. It's beautiful and useful."

When the family moved to Auckland in 2000, their twin girls were only 3, so they wanted a home and neighbourhood the girls could grow up in. Louise says that she got more than she'd realised.
The charming shingled house sits on the corner of a no-exit street that turned out to be a real community, complete with street Christmas parties. But with the girls now at Otago University, it is time to downsize.

Louise is not sure of the original architect, only knowing the house appears in a 1910 photograph of the street.


At some point in the 1980s the three-storey building was extended to include a double garage with living room above, and conservatory-style staircase down to the ground floor rooms.

The shingled exterior, a mix of Arts & Crafts-meets-Hamptons won her heart, but the interior was an old-fashioned arrangement.

While considering the best way to rearrange the house, she made a start on the grounds, calling on Strass Landscapes' Craig Steiner to turn a sloping, shady front yard into usable space.

A fireplace wall and terraced garden beds, topped by three spectacularly topiaried crab apple trees, is now a delightful outdoor sitting area, a pretty outlook from the sitting room.

"I wanted a garden where something is happening every season," says Louise. She then set to work on rearranging the interior. The former kitchen was tucked into a corner of the house - it had views through to Rangitoto, but was cut off from family living.

A long, formal drawing room was barely used, with a circuitous route to the media room over the garage.

In keeping with her "rooms have to work harder" philosophy, Louise moved the kitchen to the drawing room, enclosing a verandah to make an airy, welcoming family room.

Glass french doors now mean Rangitoto and the sea can be seen from one end of the house to the other.

Floors throughout were unified in a dark-stained, wide-plank oak. The kitchen has an English-style scheme with panelled cupboards, pewter and nickel handles and taps and luxurious Alba marble bench top and splash back tile.

The former kitchen became a guest room, and there is a charming guest bathroom here, too.

During renovations, the ground floor was excavated several feet to create a generous room that has served as rumpus space, gym, guest room and more.

With its own bathroom and separate entrance it would be a great guest or granny suite.

There is also a laundry opening off the carpeted garage, which has been handy for caterers setting up for parties.

The upper floor has three generous double bedrooms, two with views through tree tops across the valley or up to Mt Hobson.

The master bedroom has a generous walk-in closet, a bathroom and a handy chute to the laundry below. Its enclosed balcony has more views of the sea.

"We shall miss it dearly, and our own little enclave. But the new family will love it, too," says Louise.

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