Ask Nicky Gadsdon what attracted her and husband A.J. seven years ago to the little weatherboard and tile 1940s house on Mont Le Grand Rd, and she laughs.
"You know what they say - buy the worst house on the street you love. This was it.
"I was pregnant with Archer at the time, Jaime was 4. We wanted good school zones, and this is the Mt Eden secret. It's in zone for Epsom Girls and Mt Albert Grammar, and everyone loves Balmoral School, too."
The house, as it was then, was small and dated, but had some good features: great sun, a good yard, original wood floors and ceiling mouldings. High-energy Nicky is in fashion and marketing (Fashion Week has been her gig for 10 years now), A.J. has a marketing and men's grooming company, so the couple knew that the house had plenty of potential for a cool, modern style.
They lived in it for two years while they plotted the first of two renovations. As well as an architect, they called on friends Nicky Tong and former fashion designer Claire Kingman-Jones of Entrance Design to help source detail such as wallpapers, tiles and light fittings.
While they waited, A.J. and Nicky planted the hedge that now creates a front courtyard.
They edged the front deck with a stained cedar planter, added paved entrance and a secure gate from the driveway so the house is contained and private.
"We'd not realised Mt Eden means rocks; we were like the prison break gang digging those holes," says Nicky. "But it immediately gave us the greenery and privacy so that we can sit out on the front deck with our coffees."
First job up for Nicky was closets in the two bedrooms that were to be the kids' rooms - organised to the last centimetre to maximise storage.
Apart from adding a sunny yellow front door, white walls and stained wood floors, the front of the house was unchanged.
The former master bedroom became Jaime's room, with a charming butterfly wallpaper from Paper Room.
The living room was converted to the couple's master bedroom with the next door bathroom carved into a roomy closet and en suite. Mosaics highlight the neutral tile in this room.
Down the hall, the former kitchen is now an office/study for Nicky, open to the new kitchen extension they added. When the children were small, it made a great play room; but a new owner might like to block it off into a fourth bedroom.
The big laundry and second bathroom were carved into separate rooms, with more designer touches and plenty of organised storage.
But the highlight for the Gadsdons was adding to the back of the house to create a bright, roomy modern kitchen and family room.
A second renovation last year doubled this living space, adding a wing with a formal dining room and second sitting room. The white lacquered kitchen cabinets have no visible handles.
The colour and drama come from the stained wood floors - the white walls providing the neutral backdrop for their art and the Kartell pendant lights.
With its gas fireplace, the second sitting/dining room has become a television room for the kids while adults entertain around the kitchen bench.
Nicky commissioned an elegant floating side board for the dining area from designer Janice Kumar-Ward and cabinet-maker Julian Ward.
Double-glazed sliding glass doors open these rooms to the deck and pool, installed last year. Tucked around the corner are a lawn and treehouse for Archer.
The former single garage was carpeted for storage and a workshop, although it does fit a car. There is more storage under the house.
Nicky, A.J. and the kids have loved being within walking distance of school, and Mt Eden village and Dominion Rd's shops and eateries. But they are selling to move closer to A.J.'s family in Westmere.