22 years ago, Marianne and Paul Zenelli fell in love with the five-bedroom, two-bathroom home at 28 Ralston Street, Largs Bay and eagerly began planning its transformation into the perfect family home for them and their three young children.
“We first lived in the home for a couple of years with the goal of learning how the light moved around the block,” Marianne says.
When the couple added a large extension to the back of the home, their main priority was ensuring plenty of light would stream into the home, designing the extension with huge windows and keeping in mind which angles would provide the most sunshine.
Marianne and Paul maintained the 12-foot ceiling height throughout the extension, ensuring the home’s scale and grandeur would sweep flawlessly from the entrance to the back yard.
They also incorporated vaulted ceilings to break up the expansive ceiling and add points of interest.
“The key thing about the family living area is that it juts into the garden, almost like an atrium, where we can have our dining table sitting and from three sides you’re looking out to the garden,” Marianne says.
The focal point of the luscious garden is a brilliant olive tree that acts as a natural pergola, encompassing the outdoor entertaining space.
“My husband is from an Italian background and we have been back to Italy a few times and in Italy, people tend to sit around and entertain under olive trees,” says Marianne.
“The labour of love over the last couple of years for my husband has been the wine cellar,” Marianne says.
“With covid, our social lives became a little bit quieter and he busied himself renovating the beautiful wine cellar.”
Paul pulled the villa’s charm into the cellar by exposing its bluestone walls and creatively used corrugated iron to make rustic wine racks.
Upstairs, the couple built a retreat in the roof space, installing a dormer window that also added plenty of charm and interest to the home’s facade.
“The addition had to be sympathetic to the design of the house and street. We couldn’t just whack anything onto the house without it being true to the stately villa that it is,” Marianne says.
“In the window up there, I have a day-bed and you can sit up there and get glimpses of the sea to the west and the hills to the east and it is always flooded in light.”
One of Marianne’s favourite spaces of the home is the return veranda, where she can spend her mornings performing yoga and soaking in the early sunshine.
The return veranda leads into the formal living room, where sunlight streams in through led light windows.
“We have always kept that as a formal area, a place where you can go read or entertain in a proper setting,” Marianne says.
This living space is one of three, the most used being the large room by the kitchen, which is perfect for entertaining family and friends.
“Over the years we have had massive Christmas and party celebrations in the back living room,” Marianne says.
“It is a nice space that is always light-filled no matter the weather. If we invite 50 or so people over for a lunch or dinner and the weather turns foul, it has never been a problem because it is such a large space.”
Besides the home itself, the proximity to the beach is something the Zanelli’s have always loved, especially their young border collie, Rumi.
“It takes about four minutes to be on the sand,” says Marianne. “I can honestly say we have gone down to the beach almost every single day.”
Although sad to be moving on, Marianne and Paul have decided it is time to downsize as their children have moved out to places of their own.
“It is heartbreaking to sell it, but we have got a big space with five bedrooms and three different living spaces and the kids are gone,” Marianne says.
The couple, however, is sure a new family will be able to move in and love the home as much as they have.
The sale is being handled by Kate Smith and Alexander Zadow of Harcourts Smith.