Just before Will Cooper and Kirsten Beynon took possession of the house they'd bought in Piha, they dropped by to have a last look before moving day and discovered a street party in progress.
They grabbed a beer, chatted with a few people and found they knew some of the residents from the local yoga studio. It was the perfect introduction to their new home and their new neighbours.
They'd been renting in Piha for a year when they decided to make it their permanent home, so they were looking for the perfect property in the area, as well as checking out Karekare and Anawhata. "We were expecting a long search for just the right place, but when this came up I think we made an offer the same weekend," Will says.
The outlook over the bush to Lion Rock and views of the ocean from every room were an immediate drawcard, but it didn't stop there.
"Other things we immediately loved were the brightness and openness of the main living space, and the way the location was part of Piha and near the beach, but outside the main summer crush on a quiet street with friendly neighbours."
The house was partway through a renovation by its previous owners, who had begun turning it from a genuine old-school bach into a stylish beach house. They'd done a great job of the big upstairs living room, giving it a beach-house vibe, and Will and Kirsten set about making the rest of the house more liveable.
They were determined to be warm in the colder months so they reroofed the house and used "loads of insulation" in the roof and under the floor. "It's really important to be cosy in Piha in winter when you're watching the wild west coast weather come in from the sea."
With the basics — including sorting out the electrics — under control, they put their own stamp on the house. It has an "upside-down" floorplan with the ground floor accommodating the master bedroom with en suite, another bedroom, a study or third bedroom and another bathroom.
Upstairs is the open-plan living area with a kitchen, dining space and sitting area, another bathroom and a separate laundry. The impressively large living space has white painted sarked ceilings and beach-toned timber-look flooring, providing a great backdrop for the "cool and reclaimed" decor items Kirsten loves hunting down.
"A favourite find was a beautiful piece of driftwood from Sunset Beach, which is now a bespoke light fitting. The deck chairs were a must-buy item, inspired by English beach huts, and then we found wallpaper to match for the bedroom."
Despite the steep site, Will and Kirsten have made useful outdoor living spaces, with balconies on both levels of the house and a separate deck below the house.
"We mostly use the deck when we have bigger parties. It's an amazing place for a barbie and a few beers with friends from the surf club, or a couple of pizzas from Piha Cafe and a few wines. When it's just the two of us we love the top balcony for a morning coffee."
If they want to go travelling they're never short of volunteer housesitters, who say it's like living a holiday.
"And guests from overseas can never believe that we have a place so beautiful this close to the city." It is a longer commute than some, but it works perfectly for these two.
Kirsten works mostly from home and finds it peaceful and inspirational. Will works in the city and usually takes the train from Glen Eden, sorting out his emails during the trip.
"And at the end of the day," he says, "coming back through the Waitakeres is a great chance to leave worry at work and focus on being at home."
22 PENDRELL RD, PIHA
• 3 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land 809sq m, house 110sq m.
• Price: CV $770,000.
• Auction: August 16, noon.
• Schools: Henderson High School, Summerland Primary.
• Contact: Lisa Stone, Ray White, 021 504 674, oneroof.co.nz/1178626