Celebrity chef and columnist Ray McVinnie spends his life cutting through frivolity and keeping things simple.
He's not interested in grand, curvy house facades, sinks in island benches or mowing lawns. He likes straight lines, shelves for his books and op-shop props and his "tropical bizzo" garden and its bountiful produce.
Behind the bay tree hedge of this 1920s Californian bungalow, you'll see none of the stuff that he can't abide and everything that supports the home life and foodie business of Ray and his partner and fellow writer, Jenny Maidment.
This is the two-and-a-half bedroom home that they bought 36 years ago and in which they lived, qe in its untouched condition, for 20 years. They managed family life with two young children out of a kitchen, laundry and toilet in what is now their TV lounge/reading room.
"I had about a square metre of working space. It was a nightmare," says Ray, who was a restaurant chef back then.
After five years of renovation talk, they commissioned architect Megan Edwards to
right the wrongs. And so, 14 years ago, the little bungalow that had turned its back on the outdoors became the revitalised, period front face of a home with no hint of seamless
pavilion extension beyond.
Beneath the raked ceiling, clerestory windows and discreet louvres that bring light and ventilation into this south-facing space, Ray and Jenny's kitchen is the backdrop to their dining/living area and deck that floats out beyond stacked doors to the garden.
This kitchen delivers dinner for two or 32 and supports as many as six people working together on product development, recipe testing and styling.
"A lot of food goes through here," says Ray.
His trademark key ingredients and thoughtful execution are behind it all.
"Think about what you need in a kitchen — water, heat, cold, storage and space. It's what you do with that to get good flow that counts. You need room for entertaining and somewhere to put your stuff," he says.
His appliances are on the kitchen benches and there is a commercial fridge and matching integrated pantry along with two sinks, one of which is a large, restaurant edition.
The freezer and shelves of cookbooks and props that flank Ray's office desk are deliberately out of sight in the next room.
Out on show is the uncluttered stainless steel island bench with drawers on one side and bar stools on the other. It is their "shared table" and their food preparation area. "It's a space intimate enough to be domestically cosy and big enough to be professionally efficient," says Ray.
"This was a revelation," says Jenny of the design process. "It was having the space to do everything we needed to do, at the same time keeping it simple."
For architect Megan, the scale of the pohutukawa determined the form of the pavilion. "They are a nice counterpoint to each other," she says. "It was a solution that fell out easily."
So, too, did the reconfiguration of the house that includes a master en suite and dressing room in what was the built-in front veranda off the original living room.
The front and rear gardens that soften it all are Jenny's domain. "Speak to management," says Ray, when asked about lemons, limes and all the bountiful seasonal pickings.
For all the energy that this chef and his chief have put into this place, they're ready for a change. They're moving to the bush of Titirangi and the sea views that Jenny has been dreaming of.