City living, country tranquility

A sense of summer settled on New Plymouth city early this week, with a balmy fine day and just a breeze to stir the air.

It was a pleasant change from the murky cloud and rain that distinctly dulled previous weeks. And Joy and John's deck


WHERE: 11c Spencer Pl, Merrilands, NP.

HOW BIG: 935sqm in land: 265sqm in home.

HOW MUCH: Expressions of interest invited, closing 4pm, December 4, 2012 - unless sold prior.

WHAT YOU GET: Stunning architectural residence looking out over the Te Henui River valley. Living areas and bedrooms cleverly stacked up to give almost every room stunning valley views as well as level access to outside terraces. Large decks on two sides of the main living areas, as well as balconies off bedrooms, enhance indoor-outdoor living choices.

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: - ref  278552.

SEE IT: By appointment.

at 11c Spencer Pl in lower Merrilands was just the spot to enjoy the sun and the early season.

A half-hour sitting here discussing the property with Joy and Remax Team Realty consultant Lynne Stevens was enough to leave me reluctant to get up and head back to an antiseptic air-conditioned office.

11c Spencer Pl, Merrilands
11c Spencer Pl, Merrilands

The location here is sufficiently attractive in itself, without the added appeal of this architect-designed residence and its variety of outstanding features.

Spencer Pl is an entrancing setting - a cul de sac off Awanui St that drops down towards a curve of the Te Henui River. Joy and John's home is set at the end of a right-of-way lined with flowering cherry trees - a suitable welcome in this street that also features Taranaki's sole Garden of International Significance and where homes back on to the popular Te Henui Walkway.

Today's feature home is a striking cedar-clad multi-level residence stacked up the side of a lushly planted slope and looks across to reserve land that borders the river.

That waterway is everpresent - in the nicest possible way. When you are moving around inside, most rooms frame an eyecatching portion of the river valley in large floor-to-ceiling windows; when you are outside, the chuckle of the moving water adds a natural accompaniment to the view.

It's a package and picture that Joy and John are leaving with real reluctance. It's only a promotion out of town for John that is taking them away and putting the property on the market. "It would be nice to pick it up and take it with us," Joy comments with a rueful smile.

The couple moved in here 11 years ago, after shifting up from Hawera. "The job brought us here and it's taking us away again."

This home and its setting has become central to their lives in their years here. "We weren't looking for this and when we found it we were blown away," Joy recalls. "The day we found it, it was quite drizzly and it didn't matter."

As they went through the house, checking out the various levels and the views and features on each, they recognised just what it could offer the family.

And that proved to be the case. "Our children were 6 and 11 when we came here, and it's been a fantastic place for them," Joy says. "Everyone has their own space."

You quickly realise that on a tour through the house.

At ground level, there is the entry foyer, with its stairs ahead rising to the living areas and a door at right opening into the generous double garaging and workshop space. On the first level above are the main living areas of kitchen, dining and lounge, with a deck to each side.

A half-level up is the master bedroom with its ensuite and balcony space to give an even more intimate appreciation of the valley views. Steps lead up another half-level to a light and sunny second living area, two more bedrooms, and the main bathroom and laundry. A back door here opens to a terraced outdoor space. This grassy landing is a sheltered and sunny spot for hanging out the washing or enjoying a private, relaxing time-out in the sun.

The fourth bedroom is found the final half-level up, and although all the rooms boast great views of garden or river valley, this rooftop eyrie offers a particularly stunning overview of the Te Henui from its own glass-bordered balcony.

As appealing as it was 11 years ago, John and Joy have further enhanced their home since they moved in, engaging city architect Jenny Goddard to craft the changes to the original architect's 1990s design. "We put a bigger deck on, added a new bedroom and redecorated," Joy explains.

The new bedroom is the back room of the two bedrooms on the fourth level, but has been transformed into a comfortable and spacious home office following the departure of their daughter for university.

Some months back, they almost doubled the size of their east-facing deck to give them improved indoor-outdoor living options. "We didn't realise then that we would be moving on," Joy says.

The extra room on the deck has been rapidly appreciated. "All winter, we have had breakfasts out there."

The deck gets the morning sun first, but is still bathed in warmth well past midday. "This is the deck we use most," Joy notes.

While this valley setting is usually quite sheltered, the two decks mean the family has a choice of where to sit outside no matter what way a breeze might be blowing. On the western deck a pergola, covered with shadecloth, provides relief from the sun on a hot day and keeps the dew off a gathering in the evening.

Joy says there's a microclimate around this setting. "It's deceptively warm. I often put a jumper on when I'm going to town - knowing that it won't be like it is here ... and it never is."

The stretch of the Te Henui across the valley is where many families enjoy the swimming hole of Adam's Point. "It's only a couple of hundred metres away and there's a rope swing there that the kids put up."

Access looks to improve in the near future with plans for a new bridge across the river and an easier path to be created for walkers. It will give this property and its neighbours a big front yard to enjoy. "It would have been perfect when our son was younger ... I would have been able to watch him play out there."

The walkway runs below the house, but is well screened by plentiful plantings on the blended boundary - mostly looked after by council contractors and providing plenty of privacy for this home. "We feel so secure here above the walkway," says Joy.

The family appreciates the advantages of the close access to the reserve areas. "The Te Henui walkway is just wonderful ... we would be on there two or three times a day with the dog," Joy says. "The Friends of the Te Henui have done so much work down there and it's so beautiful."

The pasture within the river bend is leased out to a farmer and Joy and John have been able to look out from their living areas and decks on the peaceful sight of cows or sheep grazing. Rabbits are also there in appreciable numbers, Joy says.

Plantings around the home suggest a trained approach to the landscape here - an observation Joy confirms. "Mike Mansvelt did the gardens ... it was a cottage garden but we couldn't keep up with it, so he came in and did a sort of tropical garden which has been great."

Lynne Stevens is expecting plenty of interest in this special property. "New Plymouth has a lot of special spots, but out of them all, I cannot believe how you can look out every way from here to see the trees and the river, and yet you can walk into town in about 20 minutes. This has to be right up there with the best in the city."

Taranaki Daily News