After 22 years of living here, some of Joan Huffman's fondest memories are of the times she has spent with her grandchildren.
When her daughter Leigh was staying in the old farm manager's house that used to be part of the property, Joan's grandchildren would trek over or ride their farm bikes along the path that her husband Darrell had cut through the bush for them.
She would take them "hunting" in the bush or eeling at the dam. In the evening they would cook sausages and marshmallows over an open fire outdoors, near the treehouse.
In 1992, Joan and Darrell bought the property as a deer farm, which they ran for five years. In those days it was about 64ha and had the original homestead, the farm manager's house, and road frontages on School Rd and Muriwai Valley Rd. They also grew table grapes for export to Japan. Both businesses were dispensed with when the couple subdivided the property (including the farm manager's house), with the council gaining some bush blocks in the process.
In the beginning, the Huffmans lived in the original homestead for 14 months while a home designed by Terry Hitchcock was built nearby.
"I drew a little sticky note to Terry and said I wanted rectangular rooms and a centrally placed kitchen," says Joan. "I told him I wanted the indoors out and the outdoors in."
However, Hitchcock's plans were changed as the construction process got under way. "The builders used to call me the 'metre maid' because I was always asking them to add a metre here or a metre there to the house," says Joan.
The dining room was added at the last minute and walls were pushed out here and there to create bay windows or accommodate a large piece of furniture that Joan had just acquired.
The formal dining room had to be big enough to hold the rosewood table and chairs with dragon motif that Joan had bought while living in Hong Kong. Later, the north-facing patio was built in to create a conservatory.
Apart from the casual dining area, all the downstairs living spaces link to the conservatory, which has floor-to-ceiling glass and opens to lawns and views of the countryside.
The formal lounge at the western end of the house is warmed by an open fire and adjoins the formal dining room, which flows through to the kitchen and casual living room. An old shop counter has been used as part of the kitchen cabinetry with other rustic cupboards providing a country kitchen feel.
Charming in its own right, the original villa has a wraparound veranda, three bedrooms and an office. Joan lightened the interiors, and the home has been a popular place to stay for guests over the years. A floodlit tennis court takes up a small part of the grounds that Joan has developed over the years with garden beds and water features.
Darrell died last year, so Joan is downsizing.
"It's too much for one person," she says. "But it has been a very happy home to live in and it feels warm and inviting, and you get all the good vibes when you walk in."