Even though they've been in their Devonport house for only seven years, Brian and Jan Robinson know all about its history and how the first owners commissioned architect Pete Sargisson to design it.
Sargisson's work since the 1960s, along with partners Marshall Cook, has a distinct handwriting that has gathered fans all over Auckland.
"We really appreciate the architectural concepts," says Brian. The house needed a light makeover when they bought it — new carpets, curtains, that sort of thing.
"We called in Pete to see if there was anything he would do differently 20 years later. He said no."
The house is a classic Sargisson mix of solid plaster and cedar siding, with signature angled roof and welcoming front pergola.
Apart from updating paint and finishes, the only structural change the Robinsons have made is to extend a ground floor office to make it a full double bedroom.
Beside it, they combined the laundry and powder room, adding a shower to create a full guest bathroom, carefully replicating the tile pattern of the master bedroom shower to match Sargisson's original.
With french doors opening to one of the many courtyard gardens, this is now a sought-after room for visitors.
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They appreciate how carefully Sargisson positioned the house on the site, perfect for light and sun. Concrete floors absorb the heat in the winter, sun pours in french doors, and a window seat is a cosy winter spot.
But the thoughtful use of cross ventilation and sliding shutters on upstairs windows means it is cool and breezy in the summer. There was even a heat pump, and the fireplace was replaced with gas to make life easy.
The double-height front entrance has the signature grid windows and angles to draw you in, the floors the terracotta tiles seen in many of the practice's homes. The vaulted ceiling of the living room is another Sargisson feature the couple loved.
The Robinsons enjoy the quality of the parquet floors, and the timber kitchen is a modern layout with a wall of pantry cupboards and space for double fridge.
They updated the original wood — that had gone orange over time — with a soft grey-white bleached effect, but were careful to retain the cedar architraves and doors through the house.
Upstairs, the house is perfect for the couple, with an airy master suite, guest bedroom and bathroom and a generous media room. Jan loves the Juliet balcony — the doors stay open all summer, and provide a glimpse of the sea through neighbouring trees.
In the hallway, Sargisson placed windows to view Mt Victoria, framed by the neighbouring villa's chimneys, while the second bedroom has more glimpses of North Head.
This bedroom is reserved for the couple's grandchildren who live locally and have made this house their own. Updates of bedroom closets and bathrooms were closely matched to the originals.
The Robinsons made the most of the different zones of the garden. In the patio off the living room, they replaced old bricks with sleek concrete paving, edging the wedge-shaped space with layers of clipped and pleached hedges and trees, and even squeezing in a path of lawn.
They cleared trees on the gated courtyard to create a vege patch. Unusually, it has access to a right of way over the next door driveway (the title says for a man and his horse, but the Robinsons haven't tested that). There are more courtyards off the downstairs guest bedroom and another utility yard for laundry.
"We can't really articulate what it is that Pete did in this house, but we appreciate the architectural concepts and how it feels to live here," says Brian.
But now that he's retired from his dental practice the couple are spending more time at their beach house and travelling, so figure it's time to move into something smaller.
34A OXFORD TCE, DEVONPORT
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 540sq m, house 247sq m.
• Tender: 13 March.
• Inspect: Sat, Sun 12- 12.45 pm.
• Schools: Vauxhall Primary School, Devonport Primary School, Belmont Intermediate School and Takapuna Grammar.
• Contact: Lynda Betts, Bayleys, 021 2783024.
* Plus OSP and an easement over the driveway next door for access