Owning a classic Georgian-style house on Remuera's prized northern slopes is just a pipe dream for many Auckland home hunters.
But Clifford Gascoigne didn't even have to make a wish when he blew out his birthday candles 22 years ago.
"This house was given to me as a birthday present by a troika of my mother and two aunts," says Clifford. "I think they were keen for me to settle down."
After spending some years in London, Wellington and Hamilton, Clifford had moved to Auckland where he had owned an apartment on Remuera Rd for five years when this three-storey house near the top of Portland Rd was bought for him.
At first a reluctant owner of such a large home, he quickly came to love his cedar weatherboard and brick house with Marseilles-tiled roof, which was designed by architect Gerald Jones and built in 1925.
Clifford is the third or fourth owner of the home, which was tired and in need of renovation to capitalise on its beautiful bones. "It was very run down and the layout was far too restricted. You would go into a room through one door and the only way out was to go back through that same door."
Clifford's extensive, staged renovations included improving the flow between rooms without sacrificing classical features that included matai floors, elegant panelled French doors and ceilings, Whitney windows and a beautiful gallery staircase.
His renovations increased the floor space by 50 per cent and extended the house westwards, with additions such as a new kitchen and breakfast room, two terraces and a family room with a bay window that overlooks the kidney-shaped pool.
The pool, which is surrounded by clever landscaping, has a sun-drenched pergola and seat that look straight out across the rooftops and trees of Remuera's northern slopes to North Head, was installed in 1987. Additions also included a fully self-contained guest suite with its own bathroom, kitchenette, laundry and a lounge that opens to the pool.
"This is a wonderful house for guests. When they come here it is so comfortable they find it hard to leave."
Right off the entrance hall in the middle level is a large formal sitting room with an alcove and stairs leading down to a workshop. This opens to the garden.
Straight ahead down the hall is the dining room and the family room which has inner harbour views encompassing Devonport and Rangitoto Island.
Also on this level are one of the three bedrooms and a study which could also be a fourth bedroom and a bathroom.
Off the upstairs landing are two large bedrooms and a family-size bathroom.
Clifford says he has felt a great sense of pride in owning such a beautiful home but the time has come to give someone else the chance to enjoy it. "There are some homes that have soul and this is definitely one of them."
He is now keen to return to apartment living as he no longer makes full use of the house.