When Constance and Michael Phanoulas moved to Auckland from Wellington 10 years ago, they were surprised at how much in-fill housing they saw in their hunt for a new home.
The couple's youngest son, Paul, was 8 at the time so their priority was to find a property with plenty of space where he could play outside, climb trees and have mates around.
This 1908 villa, set well back from the road on a 956sq m section towards the top end of Peach Pde, ticked that box perfectly, with the added bonus that its large kitchen and family room open on to a sheltered north-facing garden.
The property is also only five minutes' drive from Central Park where Michael worked as a commercial architect.
"We wanted to live in this area because we didn't want to be stuck in traffic all the time and Peach Parade is central to much of Auckland," says Constance.
The house, which has kauri and matai floors, was in sound condition when the Phanoulas family moved in, but needed renovations to modernise it and make the most of the sun.
Alterations included pushing out the eastern side of the house and adding large bay windows to extend the open-plan living and dining room and let in more light.
This large space, with glass doors that open off the hallway, has been transformed into an airy, elegant space with doors at one end opening to a paved courtyard that connects to the back garden.
The previous owners' renovations to the large, functional kitchen and sun-drenched family room at the end of the hallway have stood the test of time.
These rooms open to a paved courtyard, outdoor dining area with a chiminea and a back garden fringed by a white camellia hedge and full of fruit trees, including a feijoa, avocado, guava, olive, fig and bountiful orange tree.
"It's a really cool garden for kids, because every few weeks there is something different coming out."
Constance says the kitchen and family room are such pleasant, sunny spaces that the family has relaxed in them for hours at a time, reading the paper, having a coffee or dozing on a large Balinese day bed which has pride of place.
Three of the four bedrooms are on the ground level, along with two modern bathrooms which Michael and Constance added.
The main one is cleverly positioned to double as an en suite to the master bedroom and has a large laundry at one end that opens conveniently to the back courtyard garden.
The second bathroom, which sits between two small hallways that lead to the bedrooms, includes a shower and a toilet.
A spiral wooden staircase in the centre of the house leads up to the fourth and arguably best of the house's four large bedrooms. This room has an abundance of storage cupboards and looks out over the Ellerslie Racecourse.
The attic space is also big enough for two extra rooms to be developed in it.
Not one for "a lot of fuss" when it comes to decorating, Constance has used modern, simple colour schemes throughout the house that look fresh and are easy to live with.
With Paul in his final year at school, the time is right to downsize to a smaller home.By Jane Loudon