What you see is not exactly what you get when it comes to the dream home Mike and Jackie Julian built for themselves at Hunua in 2010.

On the outside, it's a large, high-end house of plaster over brick with schist detailing - a classic design in the style of a country lodge. But inside, Jackie has employed her design skills to create an elegant yet quirky interior that works perfectly for a family that likes to have fun, entertain a lot and generally enjoy life.

"It really was designed as our dream home, and we like to build things that are different," Jackie says. "We needed lots of space so it had to be big - it's over 400 square metres - and if I'm holding a fund-raiser here I can have as many as 130 people."

The north-facing house has a big open plan living space where kitchen, dining and sitting areas all open up via bi-fold doors to the pool and spa area. It's where all members of the family spend most of their time.


Even Mike and Jackie's teenage sons always liked to eat at the dining table and socialise here, rather than hanging out in their rooms or the media room.

The German-made kitchen by luxury kitchen company Hacker is Jackie's domain and she has ensured the design works for her.

The storage space is mainly soft-close drawers as opposed to cupboards, and the over-sized island bench has a floating stainless steel top made by Jackie's brother, a stainless steel fabricator.

The stainless steel appliances include a Smeg double oven and cooktop and Asko dishwasher, and there's a spacious butler's pantry which makes for easy entertaining.

"That pantry is very well used," Jackie says, "and it's brilliant for a family with teenage boys who don't get that it's really nice to put stuff away."

The living area features commercial grade vinyl planking, which again is ideal for a busy home where entertaining is a way of life. It plays into the warm, country lodge look and is easy-clean and easy-care. Up above, the high pitched ceilings are clad in grooved ply and are a striking feature.

"The builder's mind boggled when we told him what we wanted to do but as it turned out, all the tradies really enjoyed doing things that were outside the square," Jackie says.

She brought skills learned on a couple of interior design courses to the job of designing the interior. Her piece de resistance is the guest bathroom, where she wanted to create a luxurious space that her female guests in particular would appreciate.

She designed it to provide the same appeal as a classic boudoir, so it's large and lush, and the vibrant rose wallpaper, reflected in a superb silver-framed mirror, is a standout.

The five bedrooms all have french doors to the garden, and the master is equipped with an en suite and a walk-in wardrobe.

Virtually every room has access to outdoor living spaces, which include the swimming pool area, a secluded courtyard, a deck, and the garden.

There's a double garage and carport at the house, and another double garage attached to a self-contained sleepout.

With their children ready to fly the coop, they've decided a slightly smaller house is in order. They both love the area and the community, so they'll build again nearby.

But before that, in the spirit of doing things outside the square, they've decided to have a somewhat belated gap year in Europe.

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