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NZ A legacy in kauri to cherish

Property Here - Saturday, June 01, 2013

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Back when Remuera was lush farmland, this two-storey kauri homestead and its twin reigned over the pastures in a display of brotherly comradeship.

A black-and-white photograph hanging in Remuera's library was probably taken to showcase a horse-drawn gig traversing Remuera Rd near an early primary school, but it also superbly captured this home and its duplicate in the background.

A copy of that photo came with the home when Colin and Dawn Wilson moved in in 1980. Colin explains, "Two brothers who farmed the whole area had the two homesteads built side by side. We understand they were built around 1865."

The suburb has become highly sought-after in the nearly 150 years since, but the Wilsons' colonial homestead still enjoys big grounds and fine views over the Portland Valley.

Dawn says, "I particularly like the way it is situated with land all around it. Nowadays so many beautiful old homes have other houses squashed up right next to them, but this doesn't." Because it's been sensitively modernised and extended and trees have matured around it, you now wouldn't spot it as a twin even though its early companion still stands to the west.

The home showcases Dawn's interior design skills. It was effectively her showroom for 25 years while she imported antique Korean chests. The Wilsons' previous Glendowie house was condemned because of cliff erosion. Dawn was instantly drawn to this one's character and history when house-hunting for another home in which to raise their daughter.

But not everyone was as impressed. "It was quite different than this then," smiles Dawn, "and the agent who took us through said 'I think you can do better than this'."

The couple's many upgrades include installing a contemporary kitchen and gas central heating underneath the ground floor and improving indoor-outdoor flow with a rear extension opening to a second outdoor entertaining area.

The property has a separate double garage and two driveways courtesy of its corner site bounding Shera Rd. The Wilsons love the house as is but have had Sang Architects draw up plans for further modifications (including internal-access double garaging) to illustrate how easily it can be tweaked.

A partially covered front patio neighbours an entry portico sheltering the front door. Inside, the high stud and a foyer with a seating alcove underline its gracefulness. Dawn loves the roomy front drawing room with elegant plaster ceiling cornices, log fire and curved wall of floor-to-ceiling windows admiring a large pohutukawa.

"One of this home's big virtues is the way it gets all day sun travelling beautifully around it," says Colin. He'll often find himself contentedly following the sun's rays, reading the morning paper on the deck off the rear family room and moving to the drawing room and second lounge as the day progresses.

The couple favour the second lounge in the evening, warmed by its fire and admiring its original kauri floorboards. Off the hallway, behind the second lounge, are a fifth bedroom in rose pink, (used as a study but also suitable as a formal dining room) and a family bathroom.

The smart double-oven kitchen with big views and big storage is followed by a family room opening to the side deck. Four bedrooms upstairs include a charmingly angular one which once was a veranda, accompanied by another pristine bathroom.

Underhouse storage can alternatively be a man-cave workshop. The home's swathed in lawns and pretty gardens dotted with mature trees. The Wilsons met the man who planted many of them.

The home's now larger than the couple need so they think it's time for a new family to take over the reins.