Everywhere you look there are trees and it's very sunny.-- Josette Cousins After four years of searching, Josette Cousins finally found a property that would lure her rural lifestyle-loving family into the city.
"We had 18 acres [7.2ha] overlooking bush at Waitakere so I knew that if I could find a spot overlooking a park that I could encourage my children and husband to come into town," says Josette.
She was determined to find somewhere in the double-Grammar zone to give her son and daughter a good schooling. In 1989 she discovered this two-storey home, which is at the end of a right of way and elevated so it has wide views over Waiata Reserve on the rear boundary. Tucked in this position, it is a peaceful spot -- something that Josette's husband Dennis appreciated as a shift-working fitter and turner for Air New Zealand.
"Where in the world are you going to get a private spot like this," says Josette. "Everywhere you look there are trees and it's very sunny. With the park next door, you also get to see the change in seasons."
The concrete block base, brick and tile home had been part of the Baptist College before the organisation sold the land and it underwent subdivision.
Though the home is solid, Josette made some changes to the layout to better suit family life.
She added an en suite to the bedroom near the front door of the house so it could be the master bedroom.
"Because I had teenagers I wanted to be by the front door so I could hear them when they came home at night," she says.
Although her son eventually outmanoeuvred her when he nabbed the downstairs bedroom with its own entrance, and apparently made good use of it.
On the top floor, the lounge and dining area connects to the west-facing front deck as well as a deck that wraps around the northern and part of the eastern side of the home.
Josette had the kitchen recently renovated and it has east-facing glazing that collects sun and views.
Two bedrooms at the rear of the home also enjoy the views over the reserve, which is a popular place for locals to walk their dogs.
Downstairs is the kids' lounge, which opens to the front drive, and two more bedrooms and another bathroom.
"It was great for the children to have their own space down here," says Josette.
She moved the laundry into the double garage and used the space to create a kitchenette that was handy for serving barbecues on the back deck overlooking the park. This lower deck wraps around the northern side of the house, enjoying dappled light from the mature trees.
A cupboard in the kitchenette can be removed to give access to the large workshop space if new owners want to fit it out as a rumpus room. This unformed room was a perfect workshop for Dennis who "used to fiddle away in here for hours making a lot of noise".
Josette and Dennis planted a lot of trees around the property to attract birds but they also provide privacy from the neighbours.
The site is large enough to be subdivided and Josette did have plans to build a home on the western side of the section, going as far as to put in a separate water meter and utilities.
"I was going to build a home for my mother out there but she passed away," says Josette. "But we do have a letter from the council saying that we can have another house there."
With Dennis having passed away a few years ago and the children off pursuing their own lives, Josette is looking to downsize -- although she is very particular about where she wants to live.
"It has to be overlooking a park," she says. "Get that out there: a two-bedroom home overlooking a park."