Fifteen years ago, Andrew and Shiree Clifton came looking for land with a view to building a family home.
Back then, they had neither the family, as in children, nor the view. But they had key extended family on their side — Andrew's brother Richard Clifton, a qualified architect, and Shiree's brother, Rhys Finn, who is a builder.
All that Richard and Rhys needed was the nod to get started, and all Andrew and Shiree needed was the land. It made sense for these aspiring homeowners to head west where there was land under development.
All the signs pointed towards Henderson Heights, its new Palm Heights neighbourhood and its even newer "Vista on San Valentino" enclave of six properties, a few of which were still unsold.
Andrew and Shiree secured the top spot in that cul-de-sac and from the highest point of their section, they were able to confirm their best design options. With farmland and the Waitakere Ranges behind them, they looked out across suburban Auckland to the Sky Tower, the harbour bridge and Rangitoto Island, with Mt Albert and Mt Eden on the horizon.
They knew that if they sited their main living areas upstairs, they'd maximise these unobstructed 180 degree views forever.
From then on, this energetic, upbeat family of visionaries spent a year refining every design element of this home before the year-long build, to achieve not one vista, but multiple sight lines, vignettes and views throughout the house.
"I love views," says Shiree. "I grew up with a view and even in our tiny apartment in London we had a view of the River Thames."
Here, looking out from her kitchen through big bi-fold windows, she says: "What better view is there than this view right here? I am really going to miss this."
From their adjacent formal deck-side lounge, the Sky Tower appears to soar through the canopy of mature palms that anchor this home to its landscaped surroundings.
Even the central dining room, that opens into the lounge and the hallway to the kitchen, shares the view, thanks to the architect's strategic placement of the windows, including slender horizontal and vertical windows.
In the lounge, there's a view down to the rear garden with its covered walkway with plaster pillars beneath the dark-stained cedar tongue and groove soffits. That deep soffit screens the neighbours from view from the upstairs master bedroom and the adjacent second bedroom/study.
Downstairs, it becomes the sheltered transition area off the second lounge and the guest quarters, down the hallway from the two front bedrooms of their sons Connor, 11, and Ethan, 9.
The scale and volume that defines this brick-plastered Mediterranean-style home is evident from the double-height entry portico to the joinery profiles and the similar profile of the engineered stone island bench in the kitchen.
Their limited palette of materials unified the house inside and out. The dark tones of exterior timber is repeated in the jarrah stairs, kitchen flooring and lounge shelving.
Pillars, with alcoves, add intimacy to the dining room without closing it in. They also add important space for side furniture away from the table and chairs. More inside/outside connections are in the deck tiles repeated in the downstairs bathroom and the black balustrades of the stairs and the deck.
Andrew and Shiree work in the finance sector and they've recently returned from four years in Melbourne, keen for a new perspective.
The North Shore is calling them now. "I just wish I could pick this whole house up and take it with us," says Shiree.