For five years back in the 1970s, Eloise Scott perused design-and-build house plans and saved her money to build her dream home up the hill from her cottage.
She'd bought the one-bedroom cottage and its 4.8ha of land in 1971-72, bringing her four children here with her as a solo mother. They managed well enough in the little modified house with its garage sleep-out, but it was challenging.
Eloise knew her best option lay on a flat piece of her own land just three minutes' walk up the private road from her cottage. "I kept hoping and saving and looking at plans," she
Come 1976, she settled on Fyfe Homes to build her house of split stone and concrete tiles that takes in views beyond Manurewa to the Manukau Heads and Auckland Airport.
Much has changed around here since. Mill Rd was a metal road then and phone calls beyond Redoubt Road, off Mill Rd, incurred a toll charge.
But within this home in its original form, there is little in the way of adornment that has altered, including the wallpaper and paint colours.
"I'm a bit stuck in my ways as far as colour is concerned," says Eloise. "When the painter bloke turned up to paint the kitchen and asked me what colours I was having, I said 'Just what's there'."
She remembers the conversation with the architect when the laminate kitchen was taking shape, too. He said the kitchen window should open out from the benchtop for serving visitors cups of tea in the courtyard. "'No,' I said. You don't spend all of your life feeding people through the window. And I wanted an upstand ... I'm not a ground breaker for new ideas really and I knew what I wanted."
The turned balusters above the half-height wall between the dining room and the living room were Eloise's idea, to provide a back for the settee and to define the separate areas.
The living room with its beamed ceiling is her family room equivalent, with its log-burning fireplace. The adjoining lounge looks beyond the big picture windows to the lawn and views that are visible from the front door.
"There's always a discussion with family about which is the front lawn and which is the back, because this is the front door — which means the big lawn by the views is really the back lawn."
All three bedrooms look out here, including the master bedroom with its small deck. The adjacent en suite and its similar-sized family bathroom each have wall-to-wall original mosaic tiled vanities. Off the hallway, a large laundry has enough space to be screened off for use as a fourth bedroom/study.
There are courtyards front and back here, too. The main courtyard opens off the lounge and the living room, within sight of flat land beyond bush which Eloise says is ideal for a pool.
The rear kitchen/dining room courtyard is her favourite spot for lunch, with bush views up to the hill, known as Mt Zion, on which her son planted a young kauri 28 years ago.
Now in her late 80s, Eloise has long since retired as a primary school teacher at Homai College for the Blind. Last year, she closed the boarding cattery which operated out of the building beside the cottage and which was managed by her various cottage tenants.
Eloise is selling both homes and the ancillary buildings as she looks to a smaller home away from rural life for the first time in many decades.