For more than 35 years, this split-level architecturally designed home has played host to interior design trends throughout the years and the varying lifestyle of those who have raised children here.

Structurally, the house is exactly as it was when Graeme and Barbara Wheadon built it in 1982. Decoratively, it is quite different.

The cedar weatherboards are now stained black and the carpeted entry and lounge floors are tiled. The sarked timber ceilings and Douglas fir beams are now painted off-white to match the walls, which were once wallpapered.

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Within this light-filled home that soars above surrounding bush, it was these key original elements that took Rebecca Barry Hill back to her childhood home near Papakura.

From the "crazy" paving of the front path to the cork floors in the kitchen and the rimu floors in the two upstairs bedrooms, it was all here to greet her seven years ago.

In the kitchen, she stood at the bench, looked out past the bush to the distant harbour landmarks, and simply sighed. Her husband Alex knew they'd found their house and Rebecca knew she had come home.

5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

"We didn't set out to find something like this but I just couldn't believe it when we walked in here," she said.

"Every stop reminded me of my childhood home. It is such an artistic house and architecturally really clever.

"There's so much movement in this house too. It feels as if it has been draped down the hillside."

Designed by local architect Paul Higgins, this house has adapted perfectly to the lives of its various owners.

Rebecca, a writer, and Alex, a currency broker, are parents to Zoe, aged 18 months, and they use this house very differently to the way the Wheadon family did.

5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

This original kitchen now includes a dining table. In the days before a subsequent owner installed the timber servery, Barbara Wheadon would settle her children on the sofa in front of the TV while she cooked dinner

The adjacent smaller nook was the Wheadon's formal dining area. Now it is home to Rebecca's childhood piano and to TV sports fans.

Barbara and Graeme Wheadon built here because they were sick of painting their large villa. Barbara found this steep site down a shared driveway. Unfazed by the logistical challenge, they built the house they'd never need to paint — except for the exterior cedar/rimu windows.

"This was really a big overreaction to all of that but it was a house we absolutely loved," says Barbara.

5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
5 Wakanui St, Birkenhead, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Every room was wallpapered, including the bathroom resplendent in Barbara's "beautiful French wallpaper".

Rebecca and Alex have given it a Balinese-style update with a large central shower between the bath and basin and toilet and a second basin.

Other owners have put their own stamp on the house. Beneath the deck in the tropical front garden is a spa pool that once entertained a previous family.

The texture and integrity of the brick feature wall and the fireplace have remained unmoved through it all.

Graeme Wheadon bought the bricks for some 50 cents apiece from a building under demolition beneath the Newmarket viaduct and remembers painstaking chipping off all the soft mortar for their new life here. It's a detail that is not lost on Rebecca and Alex who are moving to another house with a history in the same neighbourhood.

5 WAKANUI ST, BIRKENHEAD
• 4 bedrooms, 1* bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 1022sq m, house 160sq m.
• Price: $1.625 million.
• Inspect: Thurs 5.30 to 6.30pm and Sun 11-11.40am.
• Schools: Birkenhead School, Northcote Primary, intermediate, college.
• Contact: Trish Love, Premium Real Estate, 021 226 6099.
*Plus powder room