Architect Wendy Shacklock had no idea what her new home might look like the day she first walked on to this property.
"It doesn't happen like that," she says. "It is always about the land first." That day in 1992, Wendy largely overlooked the original 1958 cottage on this rear site. She was far more interested in the lie of the L-shaped land, its north and west orientations and its mature trees. "It sets you up, that's the context you are dealing with."
Together, these features confirmed everything about how she wanted her family to live.
"What we inherited was these mature trees that are our privacy. I wanted my children to have a big loose, garden they could get lost in and to me that is the best thing you can give your children."
In return, Wendy and husband Matthew have given their three now-adult children a family life in a soaring modern home that has evolved out of a two-stage demolition and rebuild that took place in 1994 and in 2004.
"I thought the cottage was ripe for bowling. Instead we decided to stage it," she says.
First, they demolished the east and north-facing half of the house and built a much larger three-storey addition, including the garage, mid-level family living/dining/kitchen, a second bedroom and a loft. That bedroom's en suite and the adjacent laundry are roughly where the old kitchen stood and their rimu floors are all that remains of the original house.
Ten years later, they demolished the rest of the house and extended that original footprint to build their west-facing living room and two bedrooms opening out to the infinity pool.
Upstairs, they levelled the loft and its pitched roof that matched the original house. There they built their master bedroom suite with its leafy views. "We gave the house its new aesthetic and I got my new house," says Wendy.
Design-wise, she has deliberately played up the two key orientations with vertical black cedar cladding on the north-facing wing and horizontal, natural-stained cedar on the western side. "The right-angled wing walls in the horizontal board all reinforce the directionality of the plan," she says.
Entry to this house is through the west-side 3m-high copper door. "This entry slips past the living area and it still functions as an entry should with all the social graces," she says of its transition to one side of the dining area.
"Back then [in 1994], people were still in love with formal dining rooms but I wanted this to be an Italian-lunch kind of a dining room, not a closed away, claustrophobic room."
Materials throughout include Tasmanian oak flooring, matt polished concrete floors in the poolside rooms and terrazzo-tiled floors in the master en suite and the pool-users' side bathroom near their vegetable garden courtyard.
Views from here have green views that screen neighbouring properties. "It is a lovely house to live in, in summer and winter and I like the fact that it is withdrawn and tranquil," says Wendy.
The slender view from the living room back out to the garden takes in the north-facing deck. In the family room there's an eye-level, wisteria-draped pergola high above the garage and a longer vista past the strategically-designed kitchen upstand and the two rear bench windows.
Even the soft green colour of Wendy's kitchen is significant. "This was one of the first kitchens made in this colour. It is a lovely colour to live with. Great design just lasts," she says as she looks to their next project.
6A RAKAU ST, REMUERA
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 925sq m, house 284sq m.
• Auction: March 6.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 3-3.30pm.
• Schools: Remuera Primary, Remuera Intermediate, Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls.
• Contact: Steen Nielsen, Ray White, 0275 578 336.