Landmark property on pointSave
By Catherine Smith
Apparently, in the days after a certain election last November, online inquiries to emigrate to New Zealand surged to 56,300 from a usual daily average of 2300 from the United States. American entrepreneur Ron Patrick was well ahead of that curve when he searched the country for a bolthole five years ago.
"Nobody's going to bomb New Zealand," he says, semi-seriously. "I flew over here twice and looked at every single oceanfront property I could find. I looked at Takapuna, all over. New Zealand has good food, a good way of life, good education. But this property, it's beautiful. I don't know of another spot like it. It's a landmark property."
Ron and his wife, Jessie, with their son, Christian, now 8, settled on the sprawling estate that Sir Graeme Avery, founder of the medical publishing house, Adis International, the Millennium Institute, and Hawkes Bay's Sileni Estates Winery, had commissioned from architect George Paterson in the late 1980s.
The couple were struck by the wings of the building spreading over three floors, with clifftop views from Browns Bay all the way north, the swimming pool and gardens, but were keen to update some of the 80s bits that hadn't worn so well.
Ron, whose family business is in vitamins, admits to being a frustrated designer. He supervised every inch of the redesign with architect Nicholas Dalton of TOA and designed all of the landscaping that transformed the overgrown yard. Jessie focussed on the interiors.
They were determined to bring the finishes of the house up to the highest standards to match those of the original construction (Ron had seen the specs for the immense engineering that went into the piles that secure the house and pool).
The job took four years and a few million dollars to complete to the family's exacting standards, but the detail-obsessed pair were delighted with the quality of workmanship from their New Zealand tradespeople.
Rebuilding just one finial post on the new rimu stairs and upper-floor balustrades took a joiner a whole day; kauri ceilings were refurbished and matched with built-in bookshelves, every tile and bathroom fixture was imported from Italy and Ron was very particular about the quality of frameless glass for shower doors in all six bathrooms.
Dalton reworked the exterior and triple-height entry atrium, smoothing and simplifying the fussy 80s curves, stained glass and brick with a pleasing gable of fine vertical cedar, which he repeated round the house to complement Paterson's original triangular glass push-out windows and bays.
The steel colonnade that curves from the entry around the glass-fronted gallery was recoloured from turquoise to a more neutral cream, allowing the fine corrugated steel lining the curved ceiling, and the pale timber parquet floors, to shine.
The Patricks tore out dated and rusty sliding glass doors, replacing them with heavy duty industrial joinery and proper drainage sills to protect from the salty sea environment.
The pool and decks were repaved and Ron specifed borders of artificial turf to soften the hard lines on many of the decks.
Inside, the couple retained Paterson's original flow of rooms. Off the entry, the refurbished spa room includes an above-ground spa, sauna and luxury bathroom, leaving room for a table-tennis table for Christian.