Del Mar Place is a quiet Merrilands setting off Mangorei Rd and an address here has long been recognised as one of New Plymouth's premier residential settings.
As a cul-de-sac, there's the benefit of no through traffic, of course, but the privacy and peace that this aspect confers on homes here is taken up a few notches more at Number 16B.
You find this striking home tucked away down the right-of-way that slopes down at the end of the cul-de-sac to sheltered sunny grounds overlooking a bushy branch of the Te Henui valley system. Unless you come here for a visit, you would never know just how good this property is.
Geoff and Marianne saw the potential immediately when they bought the land back in 1998.
"At that stage it was just a hill," Marianne recalls. "It felt like it was in the country; it was still effectively in town, but peaceful and secluded."
It's still a place of peace, with the house and grounds beautifully shaped into the property. "We come down here now and it feels like a sanctuary."
The potential was obvious, according to Geoff. "It was easy to see that we could create something quite private, with a rural outlook almost, and native bush all around. But we were still only 10 minutes from town."
The couple contemplated that potential for almost two years, and then engaged city architect Ian Pritchard to design the home they wanted. "We said to Ian that we wanted to create something that would look like it had grown here, something sympathetic to the environment," Marianne recalls.
Two more requirements made up their brief to their architect, Geoff adds. "The second was the budget, and the third the (high) stud height.
"He got the stud height right, and it (the house) looks like it's grown here ... however, we blew the budget!" The smile that accompanies this comment belies any angst at that last variation - Geoff and Marianne say they have been very happy with the home that they have lived in for 13 years.
The best orientation on the long narrow site was achieved by substantial earthworks, Geoff explains. "We ended up truncating the hill and the earth was pushed over the end."
That allowed the house to be built on the solid ground of the 'cut' and the extra earth was levelled into garden areas. That was carefully done, Marianne says. "Ian worked closely with landscape architect Richard Bain and the house and garden came together really well. I absolutely love it; it's a really easy house to live in."
There's eye-catching detail everywhere you turn, from the line of graceful cabbage trees on the back boundary to the square- clipped griselinia hedging and massed plantings of native grasses. Most of the plantings are native, with just the occasional exotic to add variety.
The shape of the grounds dictated the house design, so it too is long and narrow, with living areas along the western length facing into the bush-filled valley and the bedrooms along the opposite side, enjoying a wealth of morning sun.
The oversized double garage finishes off the south end, while the living areas and master bedroom take up each corner of the northern end.
Visitors park in the generous sealed area at the bottom of the driveway and approach the 'front' door at the 'back' of the house - you could debate which face is which in a design like this.
Inside the door, you find a roomy foyer with a freestanding wall in front of you that masks the door behind it that opens into the laundry. To the left is the door into the garage.
The length of the design is emphasised by the central hallway that runs through the house to a tall window at the end which frames an appealing view through the gardens. That specified extra stud height is also demonstrated to effect through here, with the raking ceilings rising up into the pitch of the roof.
"Ian came up with the idea of a big tall gallery running through the centre of the place, and it's worked really well." It's a pleasingly light hallway with skylights at intervals and the golden grain of polished kauri boards underfoot and in skirtings and architraves.
The four bedrooms - or three and an office - are lined up along here.
The master bedroom in this home is huge - large enough to provide a comfortable seating area as well as the main bedroom space. The side window is carefully positioned to allow its occupants lying in bed a striking viewshaft through the gardens and a feature sculpture.
This room is one of Marianne's favourite parts of the home. "This is somewhere to go and read a book ... the sun just pours in here ... it's just beautiful."
The same can be said of the living areas with their large windows framing portions of the bush border to the property. The greenery is up close in the central dining area thanks to the way it cantilevers out into the growth.
Panels of two of the large living room windows are filled with cedar louvres that Marianne says can be opened up in summer to allow cooling air through the rooms. The home is very warm, she adds, noting the air-conditioning units recently installed in each of the bedrooms to provide cooling more than heating.
The sophisticated-looking open galley kitchen is set behind the dining area and enjoys extra natural light with a pair of skylights above. One lounge area is set to the left of the kitchen and boasts a feature open fireplace, while a second lounge space to the right has doors opening out to the north to a sunny sheltered courtyard and barbecue area and the outdoor fireplace there.
The latter began as an open fire, but they discovered it did not work well with the prevailing breezes in its fixed position. "There was more smoke coming out the front than going up the chimney," recalls Geoff. "So we put in the large gas fire."
That's warmed many an evening gathering of family and friends whilst dining al fresco.
And out here, it's also easy to appreciate the bird life that fills the trees around the property. "We have wood pigeons and tui as neighbours," says Geoff. "The pigeons duck and dive among the trees."
When those beautiful birds feast on over- ripe berries, they become more like clowns, according to Geoff. "Drunk in charge of a pair of wings," he notes.
Tui add a vocal interest. "Do you know they have more than 300 songs?"
TSB Realty consultant Beau Burmester is marketing the property which he describes as "sassy, secluded, serendipitous and sumptuous".
The level of privacy and peace here would be hard to find elsewhere, he says, and the green outlook could even satisfy farmers looking to make their final move off their land.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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