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Room enough for a wedding

 When Margie Ecroyd and her husband, Chris Kriechbaum, went househunting, they hoped to find a property that would make a good family home at least while the kids were at primary school.

Fast-forward 24 years, and the time has only just come to move on.

The couple say they've stayed so long because the house could be adapted perfectly to their needs as their three children grew up.

"We couldn't have asked for a better home to bring up the family in," says Margie.

Being in a good school zone and north-facing were top of the wish-list when Chris and Margie went in search of a new home.

They had been living in a cold, south-facing Ponsonby home and they wanted lots of light and warmth, which they achieved in the 1938 brick and stucco home on Stirling St.

With eldest daughter Alex just a few months away from starting school, the house's location almost adjacent to Victoria Ave Primary couldn't have been better.

Add to that the house's elevated position and the fact it was close to both sets of grandparents, and the couple wasted no time buying it.

2 Sterling St, Remuera. Photo/Fiona Goodall

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They also didn't drag their heels when it came to making a few crucial changes. Within 18 months of moving in they commissioned architect Simon Carnachan to "sort out" the end of the house that contained the kitchen, dining room, laundry and a small sun room.

"The lounge at the front of the house was a lovely big room -- we didn't need to do anything to that -- but the other rooms were small and we wanted to open them up."

Simon designed an open-plan dining/living area with the kitchen in the middle and tucked the laundry behind roller doors around the corner. The roof was taken off and a soaring cathedral ceiling put in, adding to the spacious feel of the room.

That was just the first of many transformations over the years. A nursery for "our little surprise" EB, the youngest, was devised by partitioning the oversized master bedroom. This is now used as a study, and there are two other bedrooms on this level.

Middle child Simon lost the flat area of lawn he used as a cricket pitch but couldn't complain because a heated swimming pool was put in. He and his friends got a lot of use out of the pool and still found room to play cricket on the long, wide deck between the pool and the house.

"It's a miracle we ever ended up with only one cracked window," says Margie.

One of the biggest jobs was digging out the basement area next to the tandem garage to build a large family room, extra bedroom and bathroom. This has been the children's domain over the years, and has made a great teenage hangout.

"It meant they could be at home with their friends, but not on top of us," says Margie. "That was good because we knew where they were."

She and Chris had plumbing put in so a kitchen could be installed if ever they wanted to turn the downstairs zone into a granny flat. It has bifold doors opening out to a private courtyard with a gate to the driveway, so it has its own entry.

The garden has been extensively landscaped over the years and, as well as a range of established trees and plants, there is a well-developed vegetable garden and a selection of fruit trees, including one that produces enormous lemons.

When Alex married last year, her parents had a floor laid over the pool and the back garden became the perfect venue for the wedding. Inside, the granite kitchen bench doubled as a bar while the lounge was ideal for guests to sit and chat.

"We had 120 people and there was plenty of room," says Alex, who has been living temporarily in the downstairs area with husband Reuben after travelling overseas.

The house has hosted many celebrations over the years, including 21st, 40th, 50th, 80th and 90th birthday parties for various members of the extended family.

It holds many happy memories but is too big for just Margie, Chris and EB, and they're planning to move somewhere rural.

"It feels a bit selfish having all this space -- it would be lovely if another family got to enjoy it as much as we have."

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