SIZE: Land 1051sq m (approx), house 450sq m (approx).
PRICE INDICATION: About $3.2 million.
INSPECT: By appointment.
SCHOOL ZONES: Northcote School, Northcote Intermediate and Northcote College.
CONTACT: Darryl and Mary Denton, Prestige Real Estate, ph 09 419 1737 or 021 959 372 (Darryl).
FEATURES: Renovated waterfront character home with wide sea views, generous decks, pool complex and the sea at the foot of the garden. Includes a self-contained downstairs set-up and a versatile studio above the garage.

The nickname Brian and Merlene Plimmer have given their home, "the Old Carrier's Cottage" is an unassuming label given the punch the waterfront property packs.

They appreciate history and have enjoyed knowing that in the late-1800s their luxurious home was a wee cottage owned by the local horse-and-cart carrier.

But, just like the home's smart but somewhat understated street frontage, "the Old Carrier's Cottage" gives little hint of the property's current-day scope and idyllic harbour views.

Brian and Merlene enjoy a wide water outlook, seeing the waves lap at the foot of their garden.


Merlene says: "People come through and see the view and they just can't believe it. It's a house where the view really unfolds.

"And they're surprised how big the house is. Visitors always say, 'Is there more?'."

Fourteen years ago the couple bought the home from a man who'd renovated and extended the derelict cottage he'd purchased 19 years earlier. He was so torn about moving on that he made them promise to give him first right of refusal whenever they moved on.

Merlene recalls: "I just loved the house straight away. And it got the tick of approval from our grandchildren seeing it had a pool."

After the property was included in a charity house tour six years ago, the great-granddaughter of the home's 1880s owner wrote to the couple. She told them her great-grandfather ran the local carrying business until he was crippled when his horse bolted. Her mother was one of five siblings born in the original house, from where the three sons went to war and the two daughters married.

The Plimmers' extensive changes include adding a loft-topped double garage and a pool pavilion, excavated to create a roomy self-contained set-up underneath, and a new kitchen, bathrooms and storage.

Merlene owns a home-based soft furnishings business and her eye for interior design saw her commission London-based decorative artist Shirley Brown to integrate tasteful paint effects throughout the decor. Standing near the front gate, Merlene comments: "It takes me four minutes to walk down to the wharf at the end of Northcote Point to get the ferry into town."

The fenced home has wraparound verandas and a covered walkway connecting it to a double garage.

Above this is the versatile loft housing Merlene's business. An arched hallway defines the home's main level, its fore devoted to two bedrooms with en suites and a formal dining room. Its extraordinary antique lamp once lit the Auckland Electric Power Board building.

A gracious lounge opening to decks showcases the view and boasts a beaded ceiling and one of the home's three fireplaces. Leadlights adorn an impeccable powder room alongside.

"It's lovely and peaceful sitting on the decks, listening to the birdsong and taking in the beautiful view," says Merlene.

The kitchen and informal dining room with Rangemaster oven, composite benches and hand-painted cabinetry also flows out to the deck.

Upstairs, the couple have created a master suite, raising the mansard roof to improve dimensions. The seaward-gazing suite with walk-in wardrobe and en suite opens to a balcony.

The lower level, with its own entrance, can be self-contained, encompassing a bedroom, lounge, bathroom-utility room, kitchenette, laundry and a wine cellar. An elegant pool pavilion accompanies the solar-heated pool swathed in decks.

High side hedges bestow privacy.

The couple evolved the grounds' sea-most level from a toi-toi covered thicket to lawn with picturesque rope-and-post fencing and a petanque court.

The Plimmers can relate to the heartache their predecessor felt about moving on but will pursue a lock-up-and-leave lifestyle and may explore a stint living overseas.