Hidden away in Titirangi, a mid-century home provides a welcome city escape.
A mid-century classic is ideal for family living away from the hurly-burly of Auckland
Fast-paced Auckland is left behind on the approach to John and Tania Bailey’s peaceful Titirangi hideaway. Bush-clad hills give way to panoramic blue harbour views, creating an instantly calming effect. A leafy treelined driveway further enhances the privacy and seclusion.
“It’s an oasis here,” says John. “We can’t see any neighbours, which is a real luxury in Auckland.”
The outlook won the couple over the day they came to view the architect-designed home 15 years ago. “We’ve been here so long we do tend take it for granted,” says Tania. “But we appreciate it all over again when people visit for the first time and are blown away by the views, or we go on holiday and come back.”
The design of the home is just as relevant for contemporary living as it was the day it was built 44 years ago. The clean lines and interior layout designed by Auckland architect Morton Jordan remain untouched. Tania and John’s changes have been mostly cosmetic: updating the laundry, bathrooms and kitchen to add the comforts of 21st century living, as well as painting most of the internal timber white in the main living area. >
“What was interesting about this house when we moved in was that it was immediately apparent where the furniture should go,” says John. “It was really easy to set up. There were no lengthy discussions about what should go where and I think that comes down to the design. It functions very well.”
Built to follow the topography of the sloping site, the home’s multi-level living zones are well used by the couple and their sons Seb, 25, and Theo, 20. “This house was designed from the outset for family living in the classic 70s architectural trend of small bedrooms and large living areas,” says Tania. “Family interaction is very easy, but if we want some quiet time there are enough living spaces for us to do our own thing.”
One of the home’s four living areas overlooks the dining table and kitchen. “The mezzanine was great when the boys were small. I could be in the kitchen and still keep an eye on what they were doing,” says Tania. “And we could leave building blocks scattered up there for days on end without feeling compelled to tidy up. It was also the ideal sleepover space for birthday parties. Their mates still use it for that now.”
There is another lounge directly below the mezzanine, and a further escape pod on the level that steps down from the kitchen/ dining area. “The lower living area has worked well as the boys have got older. There’s a pool table at one end so it’s a regular gathering spot for teenagers and the occasional party.”
John is an artist who has a purpose-built studio at home and Tania works for a European furniture fittings company. The couple share common tastes and enjoy collaborating on their home. Heirloom pieces mix harmoniously with John’s artwork and contemporary furniture. >
‘This house was designed from the outset for family living... family interaction is very easy’
Redesigning the large garden was at the top of the couple’s to-do list when they moved in. Initially daunted by the scale of the 4200sqm property, they were keen to simplify the cottage-style garden that was filled with rhododendrons, camellias, roses and cherry trees. “Our aim was to create a modern subtropical garden that would require less maintenance. We’ve achieved that to some degree, but every garden requires maintenance,” says Tania.
The garden makeover involved levelling and repaving the rear patio and improving its connection to the house. “Originally it was a brick patio on two or three levels,” says John, a keen gardener who enjoys keeping the park-like grounds in shape. “We knew that getting a digger in to level it would be costly but about seven years ago we decided to bite the bullet and do it. That was absolutely the right thing to do.”
While the home provides plenty of space for entertaining, both indoors and out, it’s equally suited to rest and relaxation. There are plenty of sunny spots for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while reading or enjoying the view of the garden.
“I have a coffee on the back deck and watch the sun come up, then I go into my studio or do my stuff in the garden,” says John. “Later in the day I’ll have a glass of wine on the patio near the front door, then another glass of wine on the deck where I started the day. It’s nice to just sit still and enjoy it.”
THIS PAGE John and Tania Bailey make their way up the garden path to their Titirangi home; beyond is the Manukau harbour.OPPOSITE The lush garden features Dracaena draco (dragon tree), Aloe plicatilis (fan aloe), Poor Knights lily and clivia; through the window is John’s light-filled studio: “Such large windows mean the outside is always present. I love the way there is green flora everywhere I look,” says Tania. “I appreciate a beautiful garden but if I was left in charge it would not look nearly as good as it does. Luckily John is a talented gardener.”
THIS PAGE (from top) The small, split-level master bedroom uses every bit of space; a Scotch chest that belonged to Tania’s grandfather fits perfectly next to the wardrobe. The en suite overlooks the garden and harbour; John and Tania replaced the original vanity with a double basin.OPPOSITE (clockwise from top left) The view across Manukau harbour to the airport on the opposite shore. John and Tania with Raffi, a springer spaniel/border collie cross. Nigel Cameron Landscapes created the outdoor living area, including the irregular oversized concrete pavers that were poured on site, replacing the original multi-level brick courtyard.