Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Living by the bush — and near Muriwai Beach — has meant Catherine and Chris McLennan's daughters Matisse, now 18, and Talia, 15, have grown up enjoying the great outdoors.

Catherine and Chris used to go mountain biking in Woodhill Forest and their daughters were in the Muriwai Nippers Surf Lifesaving Club.

"We spent a lot of time down at the beach when the kids were growing up. And we have always had dogs and we walk them down at the creek behind the beach," says Catherine.

The couple bought the 1600sq m-plus section in 1999, one of four next to each other in this patch of bush above the tennis courts in Waimauku.


"It was gorgeous, so we snatched it up," says Catherine.

They drew up the plans for this home, using a building company in Albany to help them with the radius of the curved Colorsteel roof.

"We made that all work into a floor plan." The plaster and cedar ply house is built over two levels and the garage is below that off to one side.

The house was finished in August 2000. It faces north-norwest and the downstairs area has the large open plan living with the lounge, dining and kitchen opening to the deck.

The kitchen, with granite benchtops, F&P and Parmco appliances is on the northeast side of the house so it gets morning sun.

At the back are the two kids' bedrooms and the family bathroom.

23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied
23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied

In the middle front area of the upstairs level is the couple's office. Their en suite bedroom is on the front to one side and there's another bedroom at the back.

"We work from home; my husband is a travel photographer," says Catherine. "So, we wanted an office with the nicest position in the house because that was where we were going to spend most of our time.


"Our office looks straight over the bush; it has beautiful sunshine, it's beautifully lit, a big space. We imagine someone else who doesn't work from home will turn it into an evening lounge or and entertainment area.

"When we built the house, it was bigger than we could afford. But it was our mentality that we knew we wanted to be successful, so we went all out and designed what we wanted.

"And we have created a really successful business in the years we have lived in Auckland."

Catherine thinks having several outdoor areas and the indoor-outdoor flow is what makes their home special. "And a portion is covered so year-round we have access to use that space."

23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied
23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied

From the lower level of their home they look at the native trees including the 200 they have planted in their 17 years here; from upstairs they can see over the trees to the Waimauku hills and the village.

"You sit on the deck outside and you can hear the birds. The wood pigeons eat the berries of the karaka. We get tūī and morepork. It's cool."

They renovated the house in 2008, adding the garage on the right-hand side. What had been the garage at the rear of the home was turned into a family or rumpus room.

"That is an awesome space for teenagers," says Catherine.

"And on top of the garage we put a waterproof membrane down and AstroTurf so it is like a sunbathing deck. It is what my teenage daughters use it for anyway, but it increased our outdoor living. And we have a spa pool, so the kids are always in that.

23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied
23b Sarah Todd Lane, Waimuku. Photo / Supplied

"The outdoor areas are great for entertaining because you have the big deck at the front of the house, the courtyard at the back, and the top deck. "When you have parties, whether it's for adults or kids, you have lots of different spaces where people can congregate, and it creates a fun dynamic."

Last year Catherine and Chris completed another renovation, repainting exterior, interior and deck, laying new carpet, installing a new kitchen and bathrooms and re-tiling the laundry.

"It is ready for sale. We will be sad to leave. That is why we renovated last year. I want to remember this house as fondly as we loved it over the years.

"And I want someone else to come into it and love it just as much."

The couple is selling to achieve their dream of having "a northern retreat and a southern retreat". They had built a holiday home in Glenorchy in 2016 and plan to build on a section on the Waitangi River in Paihia.

"And we can afford that only by leaving Auckland," says Catherine. "We will sell and rent for a couple of years while Talia finishes school. And during those two years we have loads of time to design and build in Paihia."

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