Living next door to this classic villa in Rose Rd, Brendan and Rachel Danaher had often looked over the fence and imagined what they could do with the home and large section.
Their opportunity to fulfil those visions came in 2010 when they purchased the kauri villa.
"I don't think anything had been done to the villa in 60 or 70 years," explains Rachel. "And the section is wide and big, which is rare in this area. And we love Rose Rd, it's a nice, wide road."
Rachel had lived in Grey Lynn when she was a student and, after returning to Auckland in 2005 from living in Britain, she and Brendan looked at different suburbs but always came back to Grey Lynn. "We love its proximity to the city, its parks, it's child-friendly - there are lots of young families and good schools."
Their vision was to enlarge the villa and to improve the section for life with daughters Kate, now 5, and Sophie, 2. "We saw the possibility of adding the garage and pool and having a big family home," explains Rachel.
Greg Jones, of Jones Architects, was enlisted with the brief for a four-bedroom home with two living areas, a flat section and a pool if they could fit it in. Outside, they embarked on earthworks and retaining walls to allow a garage to sit alongside the home. This double-garage now has drive-through access so an extra vehicle or boat can also be parked on site.
At the back of the section, they again changed the gentle slope to a level area with the square of lawn surrounded by lilly pilly and Lonicera hedging, and the 6.4m by 3.6m pool to one side.
And, most dramatically, a complete makeover was started for the villa, inside and out.
"We were left with three walls - the front wall and part of the two side walls. It was important to keep the character of the house, we wanted it to look like a villa," Rachel says.
The layout now has the traditional part of the villa as you come in from the front porch. The exterior is painted in Resene White Pointer and Black White, while inside one-eighth Bison Hide has been used with quarter Sandspit for the architraves.
Three bedrooms, a family room plus bathroom come off the hallway, with steps down to the new open-plan living area including dining, lounge and kitchen.
Rachel points out the double Smeg ovens, one 900mm, the other 600, and gas hobs: "That's Brendan's baby, he loves cooking and he's good at it." The well-designed kitchen has a scullery/laundry off to the side and is Brendan's culinary preparation hub when the family entertains.
"This living area is lovely and spacious," says Rachel. "It's a warm home in winter because of the insulation and double-glazing, and it stays cool in summer because we can open the sliding doors out to the back. And we also have central gas heating."
Back in the hallway, stairs lead up to another new area, the second storey. This spacious zone houses the master suite with the large bedroom overlooking the pool, a walk-in wardrobe plus a luxurious bathroom with a standalone oval bath and shower.
There is also a study area which could be used as a nursery or gym.
Rachel and Brendan are selling, reluctantly, because they want to free up equity for other projects.
"It's been a tough call to make as it's a very easy house to live in," Rachel says. "We will definitely stay in the area."