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Property Here - Saturday, July 13, 2013

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Buying a penthouse apartment in Takapuna was the reward for years of hard work for Eldred and Margaret Stebbing.

The top-floor apartment in the Windermere building was their retirement pad and a sanctuary, a place where they could step away from the pioneering recording business they established in 1946. Before buying this apartment in 1992, they had lived for 22 years above their recording studio in Jervois Rd, Herne Bay.

The recording studio, which is now known as Stebbing Recording Centre, was also a move up in the world - from the basement of their nearby Saratoga Ave home, where hits were created for artists such as Ray Columbus and the Invaders.

The couple's oldest son, Robert, who now runs Stebbing with brother Vaughan, says Eldred was an entrepreneur with a great love of music. He helped to shape the careers of some of New Zealand's top entertainers, including Howard Morrison, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Hello Sailor, Th' Dudes and Patsy Riggir. His achievements were recognised in 2004 when he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the music industry.

Robert says his father was a driven individual, who began working at 9 years old as a delivery boy to support his family when his father died. He left school at age 14 to work full-time.

Eldred found it hard to stay away from the recording business even after he and Margaret moved to Windermere, although Robert says his father delighted in the apartment and its sweeping views of Lake Pupuke and the Hauraki Gulf.

"He realised his dreams here and all he had worked for," says Robert.

When the Stebbings bought into the building, which dates from 1975, their apartment had already had a makeover in the 1980s. The cream colour scheme from that era remains, offset by salmon-coloured carpet.

Eldred and Margaret added their own touches in sympathy with the existing colour scheme.

"All the furniture was chosen or designed for here," says Robert. "When Eldred left Jervois Rd, he just walked out and left all the furniture behind for me."

Robert says Eldred had an air-conditioning system installed, in addition to the apartment's electric heaters, and his parents made sure there was plenty of storage in the home with built-in shelving and wardrobes throughout as well as the storage locker downstairs.

One of the major changes the couple made was to build in part of the balcony off the dining room to create a conservatory, where they would have breakfast. From here they could enjoy wide views of the beach and gulf on one side and serene Lake Pupuke on the other.

In fact, the apartment is virtually surrounded by water, with views to the south of Waitemata Harbour and Auckland City.

Another improvement Eldred made was having a bar installed, centrally placed in the lounge, so he could serve visitors drinks.

The large open-plan living area is divided into lounge and dining zones and has an adjoining office where the Stebbings would take care of their daily affairs. Even the kitchen, which has Corian benches, has stunning water views.

A hallway leads past the laundry to a guest bedroom with tiled en suite, then another bedroom that Eldred used as an office/workshop where he would repair electrical gear.

Occupying the eastern end of the top floor, the master bedroom has its own dressing area with wraparound mirrored wardrobes. Next door is a marble bathroom with bath and shower.

All the bedrooms have sliding doors opening to a balcony that enjoys those marvellous views and overlooks the communal swimming pool and barbecue area. Opening to the pool area is a games room and lounge - the perfect venue for Eldred's 75th birthday party. He and Margaret loved to watch their three grandchildren swim in the pool, and enjoyed that they didn't have to maintain it.

After Margaret died in 2003 at the age of 80, Eldred stayed on at the apartment until he died six years later at the age of 88.