It was love at first sight for Kylie Dysart. "This is the house I want," she said when she got to the front door in 2001. "It just felt right," she recalls.
Number 2 Bishop St must inspire that sentiment, as Kylie and husband Andrew Lamb are only the second family to own the house. In 1915, Charles Wakelin built three of the street's transitional villas, but soon went bankrupt and the property was sold to the Hill family in 1918.
Kylie and Andrew were looking for a house with a sunny backyard close to Cornwall Park. What they bought from the Hills was a beautifully detailed craftsman bungalow, mostly untouched. The bonus was a neighbourhood they have come to treasure. "It's been great bringing up kids here," says Kylie, "We love the street, the neighbours, the schools."
Evie, 9, and Sara, 7, have grown up here, but the family are now off to try the country living Kylie grew up with.
They may be nervous about leaving the neighbourhood, but not about building again, since the renovation process they undertook after Evie arrived was so painless. Working with architect Tony Gracie, the brief was to add a fourth bedroom and a family space that flowed out to that sunny backyard. "It's aged so well, we wouldn't change a thing," says Kylie.
A generous sunny living area replaced the former collection of dark rooms. The reversed sloping ceiling pulls in light above a full wall of stacking sliders. "We can leave the high windows open all summer," notes Kylie. She also loves the seamless view from the kitchen island, across the dining table to the kwila deck and flat lawn above. "It's a great place to watch the kids," she says. "The backyard is always full of children."
The smooth white kitchen conceals plenty of storage, including a matching closet concealing computer clutter. They planned a sunny window seat for a gap, but the space has been a handy spot for kids' toys and furniture. The family live in this part of the home all day long - the hearth at the opposite end houses a gas fire alongside a niche to accommodate a TV. Central heating and all that sunshine mean the fire is mostly for ambience.
When adults want to escape, there's the formal front room, with its decorative fireplace and traditional French doors to the front veranda. Andrew and Kylie's first project was their own retreat - the elegant bay-windowed master bedroom with en suite and walk-in wardrobe. Their respect for the house's character shows in the carefully replaced beamed ceiling, with its original rose. They also sourced a house-full of panelled doors to recreate the original stained glass windows and craftsman archway at the entrance.
The girls each have a double bedroom with wardrobes, and the architect slipped in that fourth bedroom and family bathroom in the former kitchen space.
He included a light bay that allows natural ventilation as well as the skylight over the tub, shower and toilet. Kylie enthuses about the separate toilet that saves rush-hour hassles at bath-time. She also loves the laundry with plenty of room for an extra fridge and hanging space.
Character hasn't been sacrificed at the street front either. The distinctive wrapped veranda and corner front door mimics the two houses next door. A traditional low fence separates kids and pets from the off-street parking and double garage tucked behind planting at the front. Bishop St now awaits its third family, while this one moves to greener pastures.By Joanna Smith