Country living at its bestSave
By Donna McIntyre
After years of living in London, Tokyo and Singapore, Paula and Peter Carruthers decided to try their hand at a rural lifestyle.
"We had been living in Tokyo and Singapore for six years after leaving London, as my husband was a banker, spending a lot of time in aeroplanes and missing out on time with the kids. We were both ready for a more relaxed style of life so came to New Zealand," says Paula.
"Peter and I looked at properties in town and in the country and investigated businesses we might buy to start a different style of life. When we saw Hardens Lane at Paremoremo, we were captivated.
"We loved the long driveway lined with poplars, the expanse of mostly flat parkland, the lake, and the privacy of the large, walled pool area.
"There were fields all around the house and garden, and we would be protected long-term from being overlooked. A private, tranquil property."
"We bought this house in 2002."
Paula says the location is wonderful, around 15-20 minutes to Browns Bay and Long Bay and about 30 minutes to the west coast beaches.
"It was much later that we were introduced to the little-known Sanders Reserve, just five minutes from our house, with 41 hectares, horse and bike trails, two harbour beaches from where you can kayak to the Riverhead Pub, and a playground."
At first, Paula and Peter did wonder if the 328sq m one-level home, built in 1995, with six bedrooms and guest flat might have been too big for their family of four.
"But we quickly saw it could be perfect," says Paula.
"The guest flat became our offices for the food importing business we bought; the horse arena was the perfect size for a tennis court and the children enjoyed having their own wing away from the parents."
They also liked the soaring double height ceiling over the sitting/dining/kitchen areas that open out onto the pool.
And, facing north, the house is bathed in sunshine even in winter.
"We realised we were to be very popular with our ex-pat friends, and the house was always full of visitors in the summers enjoying the quad bike, the two trail bikes and the 12m pool."
Their children, now aged 25 and 22, were primary school age when they came to live at Paremoremo, and quickly adapted to a Kiwi-style childhood.
"We either had six kids in the pool or four bikes on the lawn or silence when they were in somebody else's pool or on somebody else's lawn," says Paula.
Paula says their house has definitely been a family home. "It is not a show-off house."
There is a self-contained unit - two bedrooms, lounge, kitchen and bathroom - on one side of the garage.
The main part of the home has the master bedroom wing, the large family den/TV room, another lounge and the dining room and kitchen, and then three more bedrooms.
The entertainment area (den, lounge, dining and kitchen) opens to the heated pool area with spa and cabana through ranchsliders, as do some bedrooms.
"The cabana acts as a useful extra shower in summer when we have a house full of kids. The boys use the shower and the loo outside and the girls use the main bathroom in their wing on the inside."
They added a fireplace, with eye-catching recessed shelving surrounds, soon after they bought the home.
"That was the one thing that was missing," says Paula. "The pool was a great view in the summer but, in the winter you want to focus on something inside, and we wanted to have a fireplace."
Bathrooms and kitchen have been modernised, and the kitchen now has stunning new stone benchtops with waterfall ends and cupboard doors lacquered in a crisp off-white finish.
And the property is large, but it does not tie up all their spare time.
"We are quite lazy townies at heart. We hadn't lived in the country and it was new to us. We took a deep breath and plunged in.
"The garden is laid out with mostly native plants and a lot of palms. We have probably spent four hours in the garden every fourth weekend, other than the mowing."
The couple are selling, with the intention of keeping an Auckland base as well as having a small villa in the south of France.
"We have sold our business which is why everything is coming to the timing perfectly and ready for the next chapter."