Character overlooking city

MIKE SHAW
Last updated 09:54 25/08/2012
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11 Ridge Lane, New Plymouth

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Ridge Lane is a New Plymouth address that's been keenly sought after since the city's inception.

It's part of the dress circle that runs along the heights behind the narrow urban strip, offering properties here panoramic views of city, coastline and sea. Prominent people built prominent homes here, and considering when they were mostly built, there's a wealth of character to appreciate.

The short lane runs down from Rogan St to Gilbert St and today's feature property at 11 Ridge Lane sits nicely at the top of the slope to enjoy the best views available.

Owners Richard and Casey were quick to appreciate the advantages when they bought here and Richard is quite succinct in identifying them: 'Hands down, proximity to town, the amenities and the view!' he says.

They also enjoyed the quirky nature of the property - a weatherboard villa with three levels, stacked on the edge of the slope above the city.

'It's really not your standard three- bedroom brick-and-tile subdivision home, so should appeal to people who want something a little different.

'The setting is fantastic for its proximity to pretty much everything. We loved being able to walk into town.

'The park is awesome,' he adds, 'especially in summer with all the events. Being able to walk to the bowl for concerts is great, too.'

Those views are special, he continues. 'You really feel like you are on top of the city and connected to it. You feel the energy of it, without feeling like you live in an apartment in the middle of town.'

There was a little too much energy around when a tornado sliced into the city a year ago and chose Ridge Lane as its route inland. Richard and Casey's home suffered some damage, but the event became an opportunity to revitalise the home.

'The initial aftermath was tough,' Richard recalls. 'It was understandably very distressing at the time; but while the damage was extensive, it was all superficial.

'The house has stood for around 100 years, so you know that the bones are strong. We took the opportunity to work with the insurance company and make a few changes.

'Where the glass conservatory once was is now a beautiful sunroom that looks more like part of the original house rather than an add-on. Upstairs has been fully relined, rewired, insulated, painted and we tweaked the ensuite to make it less 'pokey'.'

The work has complemented refurbishments by previous owners that have given a contemporary and convenient touch to life here. Spaces had been opened up, modern kitchen and bathrooms created, and aluminium-framed window joinery installed to ease maintenance.

'The house flows well,' Richard says. 'There are a lot of rooms and floor space, but at no time does the space feel wasted.

'There is a great space downstairs for a teenager's retreat, as it is fully self- contained with internal and external access - it was most likely originally the servants' quarters in the early 1900s.'

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Part of the quirky nature of this home is the internal access to that 'retreat' area on the bottom level - reached via a trapdoor in the sunroom floor that opens up to reveal stairs down to the extra space. You have to believe that teenagers would revel in this option, with a couple of good-sized rooms down here, a toilet, and a kitchenette.

The main ground floor level is where all the living spaces are - kitchen, dining and lounge areas wrapped around the staircase leading upstairs. This layout provides a variety of angles and nooks that add visual interest to the living areas and create useful spaces for bookcases and the like.

The sunroom becomes another living area on one side of the short hallway to the original front door, and there's another room on the other side of the hallway that could be a bedroom or a third living area.

Upstairs, you find the master bedroom with its ensuite conveniences, two more bedrooms and the main bathroom. Timber floors are a feature in the bathrooms, carefully retained during the latest refurbishment work.

The ensuite also features a freestanding clawfoot bath with a bold red colour around its base to contrast the crisp white of its inside surfaces.

Indoor-outdoor living is easy, Richard points out, with the decking that has been added to the home over the years. 'The big deck wraps around the middle level and that alteration to the sun room means that the eastern deck feels much more connected to the northern outdoor area.'

There's a touch of the outdoors upstairs as well, with a small balcony outside the master bedroom.

Harcourts consultant Phil Quinney is marketing the home and agrees it is an appealing mix of character and contemporary conveniences.

'It still has the charm and character of its era,' he says.

He's also impressed with the views that this home offers - not just over the city to the sea, but also to the sides of the property where neighbouring gardens feature established trees such as a couple of towering Norfolk pines among the mix of native and exotic specimens.

The dress-circle location will attract a lot of prospective buyers, he suggests. 'It has schools nearby, the CBD just down below, a walk to cafes and movies, and the parks up the road.'

It's also a warm home, he notes. 'Even at this time of the year. The first time I walked through, I thought they had had the heater on, but it was just the sun warming the house.'

The spacious sunny decks help make this a family home, he adds, while interesting garden spaces below the house give children further opportunities to explore and play outside.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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