Two years of fruitless househunting ended in a split second when Maureen and Paul Benjamin walked down a driveway at the end of a Remuera cul-de-sac in 2012 and spotted a striking home sitting among trees.
"We instantly loved it — it was so substantial, so different and beautiful," says Maureen.
"It immediately felt like home."
Designed 16 years ago by architect Leo van Veenendaal and designer Paul Rosnell, the house has a mid-century modern feel, with touches of Arts & Crafts style and some features reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's distinctive Prairie homes. The bagged brick construction is enhanced with slatted timber detailing and copper cladding that has a soft green patina, and the clever design creates dramatic geometric lines.
After such an overwhelming first impression, the interior fortunately didn't disappoint, says Maureen.
She remembers walking into the house and being captivated by the beautifully crafted cedar joinery and the plentiful windows that frame the outlook of the many native trees (kauri, totara, rimu, rata and nikau, to name a few) surrounding the
Many of the windows are floor-to-ceiling bifolds or sliding glass that open up the rooms to outdoors. Waist-height glass balustrades provide safety barriers that don't ruin the view.
"When you're at the dining table, it feels as if you are actually sitting in the trees," says Maureen, looking out at a spectacular kauri that is just about close enough to touch.
Other windows have eye-catching horizontal mullions, while there are plenty of louvres throughout the house to help with air flow.
There are windows on three sides of the main living room, which opens out to a deck. A gas fireplace has oak paneling, and a stunning light fitting by acclaimed German designer Ingo Maurer provides a centrepiece to the room.
The kitchen next door echoes the geometric patterns of the house with strips of inset detailing in the cabinetry. The huge Ilve cooker with two ovens and numerous gas hobs is a joy to use and there's plenty of storage space, including a butler's pantry and drawers cleverly concealed in the kickboards.
Originally designed for a couple who both worked from home, the house has a flexible layout that can be divided into separate zones.
One of the previous owners, a barrister, used the formal dining room as a boardroom and the next door room, which has a storage room attached, as an office.
Maureen and Paul now use that space as a guest bedroom. This part of the house can be closed off from the living area and kitchen with a cavity slider to create extra privacy if needed.
Downstairs are two adjoining rooms that Paul uses as offices, which could be a bedroom and sitting area. One of the rooms has an en suite bathroom and there's a kitchenette tucked away in a cupboard.
Also on this lower level is a guest bedroom and bathroom plus a library/sitting room with built-in book or display cabinets.
"Having a library was a big deal," says Maureen. "I love this room." It opens out to a private courtyard with chessboard tiling that can also be accessed from the guest bedroom.
Paul and Maureen's bedroom is on the top floor, and provides a sanctuary. It has a deck with bifold doors that can be left open all summer, and a large dressing room with what Maureen's "piece de resistance" — a large cupboard devoted to shoes.
The en suite bathroom is a tranquil, almost Zen-like space with Italian Quarella tiles and a huge tub plus separate shower.
The windows alongside the bath slide back to open up the room to outside.
"It's lovely sitting in the bath at night with the window wide open," says Maureen.
Also on the upper level is a room the Benjamins use as a gym, which could be another bedroom, nursery, sitting room or study.
The house is private and quiet, and the location between Newmarket and Remuera has been ideal.
After six "wonderful" years, the couple have their eye on another place and the time has come to let someone else enjoy this home.
30 WESTBOURNE RD, REMUERA
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 791sq m, house 419sq m.
• Tender: Closes March 22 (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-3pm.
• Schools: Remuera School/Intermediate, Auckland and Epsom Grammars.
• Contact: Terry King, Remuera Real Estate Register, 021 484 332.