Chris and Laurie Palmer had plenty of time to plot the perfect redesign of the Browns Bay cliff-top property they bought in 2001. The couple had bought an older home on a spreading site with 180-degree views down the beach and around the ocean. Their boys were then 8 and 11 but the family were thinking ahead to teenage years when they called in architectural designer Barry Northcott, of Dimension Design.

The rebuild — practically a new house on the footprint of the original — maximised use of the site and made the most of those views as far as Great Barrier and Tiri.

"We had real fun creating this house. Honestly there is nothing we would change if we had to do it again," Chris says. "We used the same footprint and went up a storey. We wanted a teenage family-style house. It's a beach house, everything is designed for indoor-outdoor flow, we can easily entertain 100 people and have space left over."

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The three-level house was zoned for family living on the mid-floor, where the designer incorporated weatherboarding, stainless steel ship's rigging and even a porthole window to introduce the boating mood. The double-height kitchen and living room have dazzling views across to the water, through the wall of glass with a huge entertainers' kitchen with plenty of storage. Two dishwashers and a granite countertop take care of the crowds for meals, and the sandy colour scheme is easy care and barefoot beachy. The deck overlooks the pool and beach house on the ground level, while tucked to one side is a cosier sitting area arranged around a fireplace (more for comforting viewing, says Chris, as radiant heating keeps the whole house toasty).

The family had fun naming the floors — ship's deck for the family level, crew quarters for the boys' zone on the ground floor, while the upper parents' floor is the captain's cabin, reached by a mezzanine captain's bridge. It's more like luxury cruise quarters than cramped bunk room, with its own deck that takes in even better views of the beach and sea, a roomy en suite (more views, from the spa bath and even from the loo) and space for a private sitting area.

The designer even inserted a laundry chute to the lower laundry to help keep things shipshape, and the couple chose shell and pebble themed tiling to continue the sandy-between-your-toes mood.

The ground floor turned into exactly the teenage dream space the family had in mind: three generous double bedrooms and a family bathroom, plus two sitting rooms, one for the pool table and the other for a well appointed media room (there's a sound system connected through the whole house).

Better still, all the rooms open to paved terraces and the huge pool that has a diving board at the deep end. There's room for the boat and beach toys to be stowed at one corner of the yard, while at another is a cabana for entertaining.

The Palmers and friends use the pool almost every day from Labour Weekend to Easter.

Chris and Laurie managed to sneak in a wine cellar, dug into the earth, with a magnificent old teak door tracked down by Chris, who had been collecting for years in anticipation of the 2006 build.

Basics have not been overlooked. There is space for work — an office with more of those views — a double garage, and plenty of off-street parking for guests and toys. But with the boys grown, and one overseas, it is time for Chris and Laurie to move on to something else, leaving the good ship Clifton Rd to sail off with another lucky family.


Garage: 2 + OSP
SIZE (more or less): Land 1034sq m, house 445sq m (including decks).
INSPECT: By appointment.
SCHOOLS: Browns Bay Primary, Northcross Intermediate, Long Bay College.
TENDER: Closes Feb 7, 5pm.
CONTACT: Peter Christofferson, Bayleys, 021 220 8681, Stephanie Glennie, 021 082 26291.

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Photo / Ted Baghurst