For the last 14 years Susan and Ivan de Spa have been spoiled. Unlike many Aucklanders, who have to sit in traffic to get to work every day, they have a 10-second commute.

"We're very lucky," says Ivan, a specialist orthodontist, whose surgery is in a heritage building at the front of their property. "I can even run to work!"

He and Susan, who is his practice manager, saw the potential when the Lake Rd property came on the market in the mid 2000s.



The brick commercial building, which dates back to 1903, was then being used as a chiropractor's rooms, but had started life as a butchery. Over the years it has had many uses, including as a drapery and a leadlight windows workshop, but it has ended up making perfect premises for Ivan, with a reception area, two treatment rooms, an office and small kitchen.

The house behind the surgery, however, was less than ideal. A cottage in fairly original condition — it still had scrim on the walls — it needed either a major renovation or demolition.

Susan and Ivan opted to knock it down and start from scratch with a new home tailored to their needs. With five children between them — but just two still living at home at the time — space was important, and so was ample storage.

Susan was keen on a large walk-in wardrobe while Ivan wanted a big en suite bathroom. They like to entertain at home, so having room to do that both indoors and out was crucial.

They went to home builder GJ Gardner with their wish-list and after a few tweaks, came up with plans for a stylish two-level contemporary home.

"The GJ Gardner people were exceptionally easy to work with," says Susan. "We made a few changes to their original plans to get things like more wall space to hang art, but we were very happy with the way it turned out."

The couple got the spacious open plan kitchen, dining and living area they wanted. It is oriented north-west towards the sun and has ranch sliders opening out to a large deck that wraps around two sides of the house.

Private, sheltered and sunny, the deck has been a great spot for parties, barbecues and just generally relaxing. Ivan and Susan had an area to one side of the deck laid with shells to create a petanque court, and there's also a water feature.

Back inside, the kitchen has plenty of cupboards along with granite benchtops and a central island. A gas fire keeps this part of the house toasty warm in winter.

A second living room by the front entrance is ideal for reading and quiet times. Also on the ground floor is a guest bedroom with adjoining bathroom, an internal access double garage that Ivan and Susan use as a games room, and a laundry.

"I wanted a big laundry with lots of cupboards and a rail where we can hang clothes," says Susan. That's what she got, along with a door straight to the clothes line and service area outside.

Upstairs, she got her oversized walk-in wardrobe, while the en suite is the size of a small bedroom, just as Ivan requested. There's also a family bathroom with separate toilet and two further bedrooms. A roomy linen cupboard has a light so it's easy to find items.

There is plenty of off-street parking for Ivan's patients, along with a garage and a carport where Ivan and Susan park their cars.

The house is just a couple of minutes walk from Hauraki Corner and the Countdown supermarket there, and it is short stroll across the road to Takapuna Beach.

Takapuna's shops and restaurants are within easy reach and it is just a couple of minutes drive to the motorway.

Susan and Ivan have a property up north where they're spending more time, so they're downsizing to a smaller home in Auckland, and giving someone else the chance to make the most of all the possibilities that buying a family home with commercial premises offers.

• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 959sq m, house 244sq m, business 101sq m.
• Sale price: CV $1,700,000.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1.30-2.15pm, Thurs, noon-1pm.
• Auction: July 19 (unless sold prior).
• Schools: Hauraki School, Belmont Intermediate, Takapuna Grammar, Westlake Girls High School.
• Contact: Ilse Evans, Harcourts, 021 909 313 Andrew Bruce, 0274 985 852,