Six years makes a huge difference when a popular city residential area takes shape.
Today's thriving community of contemporary homes in Whaler's Gate was a lot less developed when Russell and Melanie began planning their home on what was then essentially a paddock.
The presence of a cow trough made that former use obvious. "We had to roll that off," Russell recalls, with a smile.
The couple had been looking for a section on which to build a family home and the then-new subdivision in the west of the city was ideally placed for them. "I had a son at Francis Douglas (Memorial College), so it was easy for him," Melanie says.
Another son had an after-school job at the Woolworth supermarket then just up on Tukapa St, so Karamea St was a good location for the family.
Reserve trees at the bottom of the road gave a green outlook, Russell notes, and the recreational reserve space of Barrett's Lagoon was not far away, either. "It's quite peaceful . . . the birds from the lagoon come over here."
The section at 71 Karamea St is wedge- shaped, and the home that the couple had built here is carefully planned to make best use of that shape and maximise the sun's light and warmth.
It's a quirky shape, Russell says. "We sketched it out on a piece of paper and took it to Terry Clegg Builders, who built the house."
From the street, the house lies comfortably on the slightly elevated land, which also curves gently down the slope of the street. That elevation and slight slope allow the creative use of rocks to retain the frontage and become a landscaping feature.
Plastered walls, corrugated roofing and cedar detailing on garage door, fascia boards, and front door are a pleasing combination, and a wide concrete drive allows easy entry and exit on the section.
At the rear of the house, the angled placement of rooms creates a sheltered courtyard effect with a pergola feature integrated into the roofline.
The success of this design is revealed during a tour of the home.
The front door opens into a wide, welcoming foyer space, given extra visual impact by the leadlight panels flanking the door and extra tiling detail on the floor. This foyer nicely separates living areas from bedroom and bathroom spaces and boasts a large window looking through to the rear grounds.
"We wanted something a little bit different . . . the window lets us see into the garden, and if we are out in the garden, we can see someone come to the front door," explains Melanie.
A cavity-slider door leads from the foyer into the open-plan kitchen-dining-family space. More sliding doors open through from here into the separate lounge.
In these areas, the angled design that steps the rooms around the section works well.
Offsetting the lounge space to keep inside the angle of the section has provided a small deck area between the living areas that is a great place to enjoy the morning sun. "We use it all the time," Melanie says. "We sit out there with a coffee . . . it's a good way to start the day."
On the other side of the living areas, there is a deck tucked into the main angle of the home. This area enjoys all the afternoon sun and the portable barbecue sitting out here tells its story of family and friends making the most of outdoor living.
The paddock is long gone, of course, and the smooth lawn off the deck is now bordered by easy-care plantings that will eventually mature into a screen that enhances shelter and privacy. A couple of raised vegie gardens also provide fresh produce for family meals.
Outdoor entertaining is made easy with bi-folding doors opening to the deck from both the dining and lounge areas.
The kitchen is a key element in that entertainment aspect - and for family meal preparations, of course. It's got plenty of capacity with a wealth of bench space and a double gas-electric oven.
To the side of the tile-floored kitchen- dining space is a carpeted family nook, with a comfortable couch and a place for a second television - a family-friendly touch that helps avoid programming conflicts.
The sliding doors into the adjacent lounge space also mean that this area can become an adult haven, Russell and Melanie point out. It's also where the main heating focus is - a large Escea gas fire that adds atmosphere to warmth with the flicker of its flames. It's also a model that can be controlled remotely by mobile phone, Russell adds.
The home was fully wired for sound when it was built, he points out. While they have not proceeded to set that up, new owners could easily have sound everywhere from the living areas to the bathroom and garage, he says.
The lounge fire heats up all the living areas easily, and is complemented by small panel heaters in the bedrooms.
Those bedrooms are all located down the hallway to the left of the foyer entry. The first room on the left could be used as a fifth smaller bedroom but works well now in providing generous office space.
Four bedrooms further down the hallway are all double-sized, with the master suite also opening out to the deck and rear grounds. The ensuite boasts a double shower with a slide shower at each end. "That's great when you both have to go to work in the morning," Russell says.
The main bathroom has a conventional shower and a double-size bath.
At the end of the house is an over-sized double garage with plenty of room for a workbench.
Urban Studio Properties consultant Jenny Brooking is marketing the home for Russell and Melanie and says she is finding a real shortage of quality properties like this.
"It's such a lovely family home, with plenty of sun and a great flow inside." That will attract plenty of interest from prospective buyers, she says.
People recognise the value of living in this area, Jenny adds. "Whaler's Gate is very popular and properties here are selling quite quickly, while some other areas have slowed down."
Property appeal here increased noticeably when the subdivision was eventually connected through to Westown, she says, making it much more accessible.
- Taranaki Daily News