Life balance beats out work

20:18, Nov 23 2012
Togher house
Kevin and Tina Togher outside their Eastbourne home.
Togher house
The Togher family home in Eastbourne is a renovation work in progress.
Togher house
The Togher family spend a lot of time outside, and they keep their heated pool especially protected from the wind.
Togher House
The dining table is set in a wagon wheel window, which frames the harbour view.
Togher house
Kitchen designer Wayne Beckman and Waikanae Joinery's Peter Young joined forces to create the kitchen.

The Toghers are an Australasian mix. He is from Australia and she is from New Zealand, and the two children are Kiwis who have spent much of their lives on the move through Asia, accompanying their father on lucrative contract work from one bank acquisition project to another.

The kids, both now teenagers, have a global perspective, friends all over the world, are accustomed to a variety of cuisines and have experienced fine dining at some of the world's best restaurants.

But for Tina the essence of life is family and, encouraged by Kevin, she brought the kids home to enjoy their grandparents and share meaningful time in preference to the fast-paced and exotic expatriate life of Asia.

"I'm from Stokes Valley, and Eastbourne was a place I'd always liked so when it came to buying a family home this is where we looked," she says.

When they were shown the house the view captivated them. They bought virtually immediately, and left for New Zealand shortly after. Today the family are at home in Eastbourne and the couple are transforming it to suit their needs.

There were some issues with the house but the couple are pragmatic and handle repairs and maintenance in their stride, gradually changing and upgrading it.

The home is substantial, over two levels with double garaging creating a third level underneath with a soon-to-be-added wine cellar. "We've redone all the glazing with double glazing, the two wagon wheel window areas are fantastic suntraps and the living area big enough for a good party or family get together."

The kitchen was gutted and redone, incorporating the skills of kitchen designer Wayde Beckman and Waikanae Joinery's Peter Young.

"We wanted a rounded space but with plenty of storage," Tina says. "We've got fabulous space with a breakfast bar and when there are lots of kids around, and there often are in the weekends, I can roll in a kitchen mobile to block off one passageway so I can get on with cooking and the kids are kept away from the kitchen around the breakfast bar."

Teens Jake and Sally decorated their own rooms. Jake chose blue walls covered in posters and enjoys a veranda and huge views over Eastbourne to Wellington city, while Sally has ample study space as she progresses through her last school year and then on to tertiary study.

"The kids have their own lounge and on the same upper level we have an en suite, big walk-in dressing room and bedroom which we are about to redo. It's just a gradual process as we work through the house."

The guest bedroom has inspiring views soon to be enjoyed by offshore friends, many of whom are already planning to visit to take a break from hot and humid Asia.

"We got Brent Dowie in from NZ Pools and we've now heated it so we hope we'll be able to use it from Labour Weekend until Easter. That's the plan, anyway."

The house is rimmed by verandas, on the northerly side connecting to the pool and stretching round to a southwesterly aspect, which provides protection from the prevailing norwester yet still retains huge harbour views for al fresco dining and entertaining.

"People ask me what I do all day," Kevin says, "but every day is packed. There is so much to do on the house, so many repairs to be made. There are workmen here most days. I play golf and then there's the taxiing of kids to be done. It's also nice just to do nothing. It was the best decision I ever made to retire and enjoy life at home with the family."

Tina says: "The kids are aware we'll be spending all the money, so they know they need to educate and get good jobs."

The Togher family includes two treasured dogs - Phooey, a rehomed bitzer from Hong Kong, and Goldie, from Singapore, who is loving the cooler New Zealand climate.

"The funny thing is when they live in those hotter climates they only have one layer of hair on the coat, so they actually cope with the heat very easily. It's only here that she's grown an extra coat of hair.

"We love being together. When there's a good movie on or a favourite TV show we all crowd into the family room next to the kitchen and watch it together. The other day we were all crowded in there and we looked at each other and said 'let's move to the lounge', where there's just so much more room."

It's that "do-nothing" family time that this quartet has lacked in recent years. For a while Tina and the kids were resident in Eastbourne with Kevin commuting back to New Zealand for one week in every four, but there was always insufficient time to get really immersed in just lazing away the hours and doing very little.

"Now we're all together it's fantastic. I'm really able to be involved in the kids' activities and the house. We even have time to walk the dogs," Kevin says.

But even the daily dog walking is changing. The Toghers are having automated gates installed so their pair of dogs can roam their 1.6 hectares of land and delight in the freedom life in New Zealand offers, a lifetime away from life as a dog in apartment-style Asia.

"They just love being outside and as soon as those gates are on we'll let them go to play outside as they wish."


The Dominion Post