In a neighbourhood full of beautiful old villas, the Kemble family home more than holds it own amongst some stunning houses. But that wasn't always the case.
Fifteen years ago, the house wasn't even in the neighbourhood - instead the corner site where it now sits housed a tennis court belonging to the property next door.
In 1998 a developer bought the land and moved a 1910 villa from another part of Mt Eden on to it. It had good bones but needed a lot of work, and the couple he sold it to began by extending the back of the house.
Then Kate and Grant Kemble bought it 10 years ago, and continued the process which has transformed the double-bay villa into a gracious home that looks like it has been there for generations.
Kate admits it took her a few years to feel as if the house was actually her home. "There was quite a bit we needed to do, like get rid of some terracotta tiles. Eventually it all started to come together but I think it was when we did the landscaping that I started to feel that it was ours. The house finally felt settled on the land."
The Kembles have done an enormous amount of work to their home over the years, bit by bit. "It was obvious what was needed to be done but we didn't rush to get it all done at once.
We lived in the house for a while and took our time," says Kate.
As a result the renovations are seamless. The Kembles have taken great care to make sure everything they've done, such as adding transom windows above French doors, has been in keeping with the age and style of the house. "We wanted to modernise it but keep the character," explains Kate.
The changes they've made include adding a double internal-access garage (reached from Bellevue Ave). They've put in new bathrooms and a new kitchen featuring the handiwork of a much-treasured cabinetmaker, who also created a stunning shelving unit in the family room and more shelving and cupboards in the lounge. She and Grant have been meticulous about keeping on top of maintenance - for example all the sash windows have been recently restrung - and as a result the house is immaculate. From the moment you walk in the front gate it's obvious that this is a home that has been lavished with love. The welcoming front porch opens into the wide central hall that bisects the house. At the front, with the picturesque bay windows, are daughter Hannah's bedroom on one side and Kate and Grant's room on the other. Beyond their room are two more bedrooms, occupied by their three sons Ben, Sam and Jimmy. Sam and Jimmy's room features built-in bunks and a walk-in wardrobe while Ben's also has plenty of storage. The family bathroom at the end of the hallway has a double shower, separate bath and a skylight that can be opened with a remote control and automatically shuts if it rains.
Next to Hannah's room is the elegant formal lounge, complete with a striking fireplace, and beyond that the dining room, which opens out to the north-facing terrace. Next to the dining room is the stylish kitchen and the family room, plus a study/laundry.
The same care and attention paid to the interiors can be seen outside. The property, which includes pohutukawa and phoenix palms, is beautifully landscaped and includes a spa pool and a playground.
With everything on their "to-do" list finally ticked off, Kate says there is nothing she would change or do differently if she was doing it all over again. But the Kembles are moving on because they've bought a bigger home so the children can each have their own rooms.
"It has been such a pleasure for us living here and I know I am going to bawl my eyes out when we leave," says Kate.By Donna Fleming