Before they bought their family home back in 2000, Lance and Toni Wickman had a bit of negotiating to do when they decided to move from their Takapuna house.
Lance had been a boatie and was looking for a place near water. Toni, who had grown up on a farm, wanted land for horses.
After an 18-month search, they were trying the patience of their agent — as well as themselves.
"We'd looked at everything from Albany to Waitoki and in between; we were not inspired by just acres of land," says Lance.
"We were with an agent who was getting frustrated. He said 'Come and have a look at this, it came on a couple of days ago'. I fell in love, Toni needed more convincing."
The 3ha or so was set up as a commercial irrigation business in the mid-1980s, with some 1.6ha of lake fed by a stream.
The couple discovered that the silicon clay base keeps the water clear for irrigation. Tests have shown the lake is cleaner than most residential water tanks, says Toni.
Over the years the couple planted native grasses and flaxes to mimic the natural habitat of lakes — no formal planting, no palm trees — and dug around one side of the lake to form a jetty and the house site.
They knew they wanted a house inspired by the old boat houses off Tamaki Drive. They "chewed through a few architects" before they found one they were looking for.
It was only after they admired a friend's Cape Cod-style house that they found Russell Pinel, whose credits include the Auckland Art Gallery.
His preliminary sketch was pretty close to the final house, a generous curve of glass-fronted pavilions under the classic boat-shed gable roof.
A jetty built by a marina engineer underpins the seemingly effortless look of the house wrapping around the lake.
Lance and Toni and their two young daughters decamped overseas for a few years, returning in 2008 inspired by what they'd seen in the luxury accomodation market.
Toni's vision was to link the existing house, via a conservatory, to a generous self-contained suite of rooms, complete with fireplace and lakeside comforts.
It was completed in 2012 and she's been running a business for boutique weddings, corporate retreats and bridal indulgence days. One year the family hosted a Japanese game show.
Curtains close the conservatory closes off from the main family house, the lawn is big enough for helicopters to land, and Toni has recommendations for wineries and restaurants in the area.
But mostly, the house was for the family. The entry is designed to open up views through the house to the water. The open-plan kitchen — its wooden island is where everyone perches — and living room open to the decks all around.
Entertaining tends to spill outside. The polished concrete floors are practical and waterproof when swimmers and kayakers come inside (the lake is some 7m deep in the middle).
The couple specified traditional materials — cedar, copper guttering — and were pleased when their architect added deep wood reveals to beef up the practical aluminium window joinery.
The vaulted ceilings have extra thick insulation. There's a Warmington firebox with a wetback in the kitchen, another open fireplace in the snug media room (a favourite for cosy winter movie afternoons, Toni says).
The couple designed their main bedroom to hover over the lake views, with en suite and walk-in wardrobe.
But the guest wing could also be the parent wing, complete with its stunning Italian stone bath overlooking the water and living room with gas fireplace.
There are also three more bedrooms and study in this wing, plus an en suite in the loft above the garage — currently used as Lance's office, but commandeered by the teenagers as their TV room.
11 LEWIS LANE, COATESVILLE
• 7 bedrooms, 4 bathroom, 3* parking spaces.
• House: 615sq m, Land 3.2ha.
• Sale: By negotiation.
• Inspect: By Appointment.
• Schools: Coatesville Primary; Albany Junior High, Albany Senior High.
• Contact: Nicky White, Precision Real Estate, 021 754 667.