Stephanie Bate and Andre Newland had other things on their mind when they moved into their new house in Bayview Park, Orewa 11 years ago. Stephanie was pregnant with their son, Douglas, born only two months after they moved.

"I wouldn't recommend moving while heavily pregnant," says Stephanie. "The house was finished, but there was no landscaping or fence. We put in a footpath and some grass, that was it for a while."

The couple had bought one of the first sections on subdivided farmland overlooking the estuary. As they cleared the land of macrocarpas, their eye was caught by the striking display home from Universal Homes, on the newly developing neighbourhood around Grand Drive leading into Orewa. The couple were excited by a new build after selling an older house they'd done up in Torbay.

"They designed something that could make the most of the sloping site, elevated to take in the estuary views, that was functional and easy to look after."

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Their brief called for open plan design that would maximise the living area, using a soaring ceiling to bring light and a sense of space into the main rooms. Tall windows and bigger doors contribute to the sense of space, heralded at the entry with a striking double-height doorway.

About four years ago, Stephanie and Andre added crisp landscaping, using retaining walls, stairs and a series of decks to wrap around the house and create a series of outdoor living rooms.

Apart from a small patch of lawn for the garden shed (or a dog, Stephanie points out), the rest of the land is usable entertaining space. A palette of stacked concrete block and weatherboard is paired with aluminium joinery and crisp louvres.

The concrete is repeated inside with a polished concrete hearth for the fireplace — that took six men to lift into place — and neutral white walls as a backdrop to art and furniture.

Some precious fixtures and fittings had to be included in the build: a striking David Trubridge light fixture over the entry stairs was an easy accommodation. Stephanie admits that their appliances — glass-fronted Electrolux dishwasher and ovens (they had to then hunt for a matching fridge) — were a bit more testing for their kitchen designer.

But her joiner came through, matching the frosted glass finish on the splash back and frosted glass pantry doors, adding a diamond finish on the cabinets, finishing the huge kitchen with aluminium trims and engineered stone counters. Concrete-look tiles through the living room gave the couple the industrial modern look they wanted.

After years with a tiny kitchen, the couple had dreamed of tons of storage and room for both of them to work together when entertaining.

The kitchen island is always the centre that guests gravitate to, with plenty of areas for either indoor dining in the winter or summer eating on the deck. The space easily fits 50, and is perfect for the annual family Christmas celebrations.

There's underfloor heating and ceiling fans to keep warm air moving in winter, while louvres encourage cross breezes in the summer.

A second sitting room above the garage, closed off by cavity sliding doors, has become the family's den for gaming or family movie night. It shares the same water views as the lower living room.

The master bedroom was created in its own zone, up a few steps from the living rooms and opening off its own deck, it has a walk-through closet with tile floor that makes it part of the en suite bathroom. Three more bedrooms are arranged to take in views or to have outdoor access (one is used as Stephanie's office).

Around them, the neighbourhood has dramatically changed. Down and across Grand Drive is the walkway and bike path that runs from Orewa beach around the estuary to Millwater. New shops and cafes are cropping up in both suburbs and the beach is a few minutes' drive away.

The couple have a hankering for another project, this time fancying a do-up of one of the original mid-century houses that dot the neighbourhood.

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