It took Ange Garland and her husband Andrew more than two years to find this section at Karaka, and another two to plan their dream home.

"We thought Karaka would be an ideal spot to bring up kids," says Ange of their children, Mack, now 7, and Molly, 4. "We could be in the countryside but still have fantastic access to schools."

Also important was close access to the motorway because Andrew works in the city.

"We bought the land five years ago. Our lovely neighbours had land with their bungalow but didn't want to have stock. So, they chopped off one acre and sold it to us."

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The couple's first task was clearing the land for this outstanding black cedar house, designed by Diana Blake Design, and built by Harry Van Der Putten. It was finished in April last year.

"We took the process slowly because we wanted to make sure our house wasn't suitable for us only when Molly was a newborn and Mack was a 2-year-old, but all the way through to teenagers," says Ange.

Their brief included wanting great indoor-outdoor flow, and for the sleeping areas to be separate from the living areas. "We could still enjoy music and have friends over while our kids were soundly asleep," she says.

A guest wing offers privacy by being at the end of the house beside the laundry, office and two-car garage.

In the home's centre are the kitchen and dining with lounges either side, opening to the deck (as does the guest bedroom). The family's three bedrooms, en suite and family bathroom plus another lounge area are at the other end of the home. Another garage is separate from the house.

Throughout the home, the eclectic modern style includes clean lines, concrete floors, high stud and monopitch roof.

"The home is warm," says Ange, "in temperature and the materials we have used. A little bit Scandinavian, with the plywood and our white Prime Stone benchtops which have been used throughout the kitchen, scullery and the bathrooms."

The couple admit they found it challenging adapting to a new build. "Old houses have always been Andrew's and my passion, and this was the first time we have built. We struggled with the idea of everything being shiny and new."

Hence the use of century-old bricks salvaged from the Christchurch earthquakes and used in feature walls.

"The idea with the bricks was to bring in that earthiness — that reused and recycled element of a really good, honest building material," says Ange.

The bricks have been used in the internal hallway entrance and wrap around into the kitchen. They are also used around the fireplace, in a small section of lounge wall, and there is a brick wall in the guest bedroom.

Other notable features are cedar window and door frames, the parchment windows and plywood joinery built by B and E German kitchens.

"We wanted the house to have a relaxed vibe," says Ange. "The plywood came from that. It is a humble material but useful and simple."

The plywood is also used in the kitchen bulkhead. "This defines the space and makes it a bit cosier because we have a high stud throughout the rest of the living area," she says.

And there's plywood in the bathrooms, laundry and children's bedrooms where built-in lofts can be used as a climb-up play area.

For heating, there's a fireplace and five heat pumps.

"But, honestly, we have them mostly for cooling," says Ange. "The house is so thermally efficient. We paid extra to have another 30ml poured on the slab that means we get so much more passive heat coming from the sun. We are absolutely north facing, and we have so much glass, the sun comes through, heats up the slab during the day and then at night it releases the heat."

The couple have loved living in this street because it has a nice community feel. But now they are selling to move to the Waikato, where they want to expand Ange's business.

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