Home's design reflects region
"I wanted a French Country feel,"MIKE SHAW
Quiet can be felt. It's not something you always notice, but I felt it on arrival at John
and Karen Eagles' top-of-the-city New Plymouth property.
Top of the city is found at Parrs Rd, a country cul-de-sac off Frankley Rd. In this
instance, country is not a world away from city - John and Karen are just minutes
from the urban bustle.
It's a world away, however, in terms of leaving the trappings of business and
commerce behind. And you realise that as you turn into the tree-shady green tunnel of
For some reason, the wardrobe entry into the C.S. Lewis land of Narnia came to mind;
it was that much of a transition. The driveway opened out into a wide sealed space
between home and garage, framed and softened by trees with glimpses through them
to sunny pastures.
And stepping out of the car, the quiet wrapped around me in a palpable way. It was a
comfortable feeling, almost a sense of coming home.
You can understand why the couple have lived here for more than 30 years, raising a
family of four children in this fulfilling environment.
It's an environment that they have created from nothing.
When John and Karen bought this land in 1979, it was just that - a little more than
two hectares of rolling pasture. Now there's a home of substance, one that nestles into
its setting, with a tennis court a level below, and lush gardens that embrace and shelter
It's a picture that began with words, Karen explains. "When we came to think about
building, we engaged (architects) Boon Goldsmith, as it was then, and Paul Goldsmith
was recommended to us by Terry Boon."
The first thing Paul had them do was write an essay about the house they wanted.
Their words spelt out their desire for an indoor-outdoor flow, lawns close to the house
so children could run out on to the grass, and plenty of space.
"I told Paul I wanted a French Country feel," Karen recalls. "Not a French Country
home, but the feel of one."
The architect took all that in and walked the land with them, eventually standing on
what became their front lawn and describing the roofline and detail of the house he
envisioned here - inspired by the features of the region. "He stood in the paddock and
said 'This is the mountain, this is the Pouakai Range, there is Paritutu, and these are
the rocks that jut out from the mountain'.
"That's why you have an architect ... they can conceptualise," says Karen.
"He stayed with the theme we wanted - a solid farmhouse type of feel, connected to
While the roofline followed the profile of the mountain and ranges, the structure
below took advantage of a natural slope to the land to provide a home of three levels.
Main living spaces are in the middle, where visitors arrive to this home, as well as
the "bedroom wing" with four bedrooms and a central "common" space; below is a
rumpus or games room that opens out to the lower lawns and tennis court; atop the
house is the master bedroom suite.
Concrete blocks were Paul Goldsmith's choice for the main structure of the house
and, initially, he was keen to leave them in a natural exposed finish inside and out,
Karen recalls. "But he finally decided we couldn't have that here with the Taranaki
rainfall, so we painted the house with a plasticised paint."
Those painted surfaces are reminiscent, however, of the plastered finish of a French
Country house, so fit the theme well. Rusticated cedar weatherboard panels on the
sunny face of the home provide a visual relief to the painted concrete blocks.
The main entrance was an important area to get just right, Karen notes. "I always like
to have a front door that addresses you ... it draws you in and says 'welcome'."
And that's just what happens when you step through their angled tongue-and-groove
timber door. You leave the hot sunny day behind and find a cooler soothing interior -
a foyer with a dramatic full-height ceilings and tall interior windows that allow you to
look through the upper house.
It's an impressive effect. "The roof is like the upturned hull of a boat," Karen points
out. "It has an atrium feel."
Between the "ribs" of that hull, you appreciate the warmth and texture of macrocarpa
sarking. Those upper windows allow light to filter through the house and let you see
the beauty of the ceilings running through the rooms.
The architect's feel for natural concrete shows up inside the house with portions of the
structural walls left exposed for effect.
There's a natural flow from the foyer through into the dining area and lounge spaces
that wrap around the central kitchen and family room. Cork flooring also flows
through all the rooms, relieved with the pattern and colour of large Turkish rugs.
Details inside and out appeal to the eye and the senses as Karen conducts her tour
through the house - picture windows framing portions of the garden, a cosy window
seat adjacent to the Queenstown schist fireplace, French doors leading out to the
covered verandah and lawns beyond.
Windows angled out from the house feature glass-to-glass corners - a signature Boon
Goldsmith detail, Karen notes.
The kitchen-family area is a focal point for the family - there's a breakfast table
in here for casual meals, more French doors for easy access to the grounds, and a
convenient servery window across the kitchen bench for barbecues and entertaining.
"It's important to have an interaction with the outside," says Karen.
Handy to the kitchen - and a busy mother - is the utility room for laundry activities,
and then a family bathroom. The four bedrooms - two doubles and two singles - are
complemented by a sleeping nook in the common area that links them.
Architectural flair shows through again in the low windows in the bedrooms - a
feature that allows views out into the gardens while lying in bed.
Upstairs, in the spacious master suite, there's a more immediate link to the gardens
with a private balcony. This suite is a great place to enjoy a quiet break from the
demanding days of the business world.
Its private bathroom features a bath from which you can relax with another view out
over the gardens.
Back in the foyer, we take the stairs down to the "basement". Karen points out a cool
concrete-block-walled wine cellar on the way.
The rumpus room down here is a bonus of the contour of the original site. "The land
naturally dropped away and we could have a basement here for the extra space. The
tennis players come in and have their beer here after their game."
Four 21st birthdays have also been accommodated in this setting - and just last month
a wedding with 110 guests. Not too many homes can boast that capability.
Tennis here takes place out on the first Astroturf court laid in Taranaki. The couple
commissioned its development in 1984 after going to see a similar surface on a
private court in Mission Bay in Auckland.
"We had four children and we wanted them all to learn tennis," Karen explains. "We
had coaching lessons here and little tournaments."
The stroll out to the court has also brought us out into the gracious garden that
now dresses this property. It's another place of peace that the couple has lovingly
developed over the years.
Grassy paths meander through the trees and shrubs and at every turn there's another
splash of colour or change of texture. Some trees are substantial ("There are three
kauri ... and a puriri," says Karen), others are more modest. The combinations create
pleasing layers and structure in the gardens.
A wealth of native plants is complemented by a wide variety of exotics, from rhodo
and camellia to magnolia and cherry.
The paths take us back up to the house, where a visit to the garage reveals a dual
purpose - a sturdy stable facility crafted into the building by the architect. At the other
end is a generous workshop. Pasture wraps around the property, providing the grazing
for the horses - or the sheep and beefies that have also been raised here at times.
Remax Team Realty consultants Lynne and Melanie Stevens are marketing the
property, which they say is a premium package that offers choices for new owners.
It's a property that they can enjoy in its entirety, for the full lifestyle experience,
Lynne says. But it's also in two titles, she adds - one of 1.3881ha that includes the
house, and another of 7102sqm with easy access from Frankley Rd.
The location, so close to the city, also benefits from the quiet side-road setting
and other quality homes that have been developed nearby, says Karen. "There's a
community feel to life here."
The architect-enhanced environment is a real attraction, Lynne says. "This is
an opportunity for people to come out into the country where they can have a
contemporary home with character."
WHERE: 32 Parrs Rd, New Plymouth.
HOW BIG: One title of 1.3881ha with house of 250sqm and garage-stable building of
100sqm; second bare-land title of 7102sqm with access from Frankley Rd.
HOW MUCH: Expressions of interest invited, closing Wednesday, March 20, 2013,
unless sold prior.
WHAT YOU GET: Great lifestyle property close to the city with spacious architect-
designed home, tennis court and large established garden.
MARKETED BY: Lynne and Melanie Stevens at Remax Team Realty - ph 06 759
8084 or Lynne on 027 444 9195, Melanie on 027 696 5558.
ON THE WEB: open2view.com - ref 283598
SEE IT: By appointment only.
- Taranaki Daily News
What do you make of New World's Little Shop toys?Related story: Shopping giveaway 'harming children'
Get Taranaki's frequent news and sport updates
Choose an iconic Taranaki photo as wallpaper for your computer
Astronomer Tom Whelan explains what is in the Taranaki heavens for each month.