Driving through Palm Springs and California on a buying trip in the late 1970s, fabric importers Beverly and Maurice Allen were enchanted with the style of homes they encountered there. They were also amazed at how hospitable the homeowners were when the appreciative New Zealanders stopped to have a closer look and take photographs.

"They would invite us in for coffee. Two were so enthusiastic, they even sent us plans,"
recalls Beverly.

So when they arrived back home, they were keen to incorporate many of the design aspects in the new home which they intended to build on a site next door. The large clifftop site boasted wide views across Kohimarama to Devonport and up through the Hauraki channel.

Son John Allen explains. "I grew up next door. Mum and Dad owned the big piece of land with two more sections that it was on. In the mid-60s, they moved the house towards the road front as they always intended to build on the bigger piece of land, which they did in the early 80s."

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The Allens selected prominent architects Swan Railley Paterson to design a timeless home, all on one level, that would take them through the family years and beyond. In many ways, the Allens were before their time, building a solid, bagged brick home that had a big sense of space with loads of light through skylights.

"We said we wanted something different, more Californian. But it was during the Muldoon era of price fixing and import restrictions which made it terribly difficult to get materials. We bought most things on our travels and had them sent home."

It was not like it is now where we have instant access to everything, says John. "They had to specially import the travertine marble used in the bathrooms and flooring perimeters throughout. Even wall hung toilets weren't available so Mum and Dad had to have them custom-made."

Through the gates, visitors arrive in a large, paved courtyard almost enclosed by leafy trees that connect the rear wings of the home. Above the entry, the central core rises up in a tall arched roofline inset with glazing front and back. This area accommodates the formal lounge, a beautiful, conversation room with crisp acoustics.

"It looks great when the sun is setting," explains John. "Light floods through the glass above which changes the look giving beautiful shadow effects."

All the living areas and the master bedroom look north for sweeping close-up views.

Opening out to the terrace, they all boast stunning high, feature ceilings. Even the kitchen, a high coved ceiling that continues across the family room, has an enormous skylight which ensures it is never cave-like.

At the end of the family area, a conservatory rises up like a glazed turret. In the dining room and the office, ceilings are coffered with beams, lending visual weight to spaces.

In the master bedroom, a wall of bevelled vertical mirrors behind the bed reflects the view no matter where you stand. And a large walk-though dressing room links to the generous ensuite which is lavished in pale cream marble.

An airy gallery connects all areas. Designed to showcase artworks including some of John's own highly polished pieces carved from unusual shapes of pohutukawa driftwood, it is inset with glazed alcoves and skylit bays.

14 AUMOE AVE, ST HELIERS
• 4 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 2434sq m, house 539sq m.
• Tender: Closes 4 April.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-1.40pm.
• Schools: Kohimarama School, St Ignatius, Glendowie College.
• Contact: Mark Ambrose, UP Real Estate, 021 621 039 Alison Jackson-Mee, 021 410 101.