For almost 17 years, this property overlooking Mission Bay has been the journey and the destination for the Nichols family of five.

Tracey and Steve Nichol moved the original Spanish Mission house here in 2001, shifting from Howick to be closer to the city.

They and their three-year-old first-born moved in on the first birthday of their twin boys.

Exactly one year later on their second birthday, they all moved out into nearby rental accommodation and watched as this solid concrete home took shape on its corner section high up the valley.


It was almost three years before they moved back to No. 2, with room for the children to grow into and for everyone to stretch out in. It was worth all the attention to detail they paid to the multi-level floorplan designed by Schulze Poursoltan Architects.

Every wing is a destination in its own right and each area of this home comes with Tracey's attached list of validations.

The central staircase unfolds upstairs to the bedrooms and bathrooms — and downstairs to formal and informal living and separate guest quarters with its own entry. A double helping of everything significant here includes dual internal access from the garage into the entrance and downstairs to the kitchen through the laundry and scullery.

The main study and deck is upstairs at the front of the house. Down the hallway en route to the boys' bedrooms, an open lounge/study has defied several attempts at a name change.

"We called it the playroom because it's where the Lego could stay and not have to be packed away. We tried calling it the homework room, but it has just always been called the playroom," says Tracey.

The boys' near-identical bedrooms share the top deck that overlooks the landscaped gardens and pool that underpin the distant views to the beach. Their parents' bedroom wing is on the same level but deliberately stepped down for proximity and privacy.

"The boys were four and six when we moved in and I wasn't quite ready for them to be on another level at that stage,"says Tracey. The master en suite and the boys' bathroom have each been designed with two separate vanities, a drop in bath and the shower and toilet installed behind a tiled, central wall.

Formal living focuses on the stepped-down lounge off the formal dining room that opens off the hallway and the kitchen.

"People sitting here can't see the engine room," says Tracey of her kitchen/family room. This high-gloss kitchen is original except for new pendant lights and mosaic tiled splashback.

Family celebrations and neighbourhood dinners have seen as many as eight people working comfortably here simultaneously, she says. "Even if I had a new kitchen, I'd never change the layout. It's wonderful to work in."

Unlike some homes, this family's pool is out of sight of the living area, at the bottom of the sloping garden. As a result, it has become a destination in its own right and a source of quality time especially when the boys were learning to swim.

"I'd take my phone, my nail file and my book down with us and if I had to come up here for any reason, the boys all had to get out and come through the gate," says Tracey.

These days their eldest is at university in Wellington and the twins are in their last year at secondary school.

With some rooms empty, Tracey says it is time for another family to move in and join the friendliest of neighbourhoods.

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