After enjoying farm life in Australia for 20 years, Lisa Roger hoped for a new property in Auckland's inner suburbs that was quiet and private.
The idyllic spot she found in 2010, just off Mountain Rd, set well back from the street and surrounded by trees, fitted that bill and was ideal for her daughters.
She explains that Sir Algernon Phillips Withiel Thomas was a botanist who built the original homestead at 114 Mountain Rd in 1888, after arriving from England to work at Auckland University.
"He planted lots of rare and interesting plants, including oaks, and a sensational cherry tree, that is still here on my property, which is one of four sections subdivided from the original land in the late 1950s."
"And it wasn't just any garden either," Lisa says. "We're at the border of a one-hectare, rare native rock forest reserve that was gifted to the city by his family in 1948."
Lisa is just the third owner of the home and she's made extensive changes in her time there, always keeping its heritage in mind.
"Mine was architect-designed and built using Canadian cedar, with a shingled roof. It was absolutely lovely to look at when I bought it, but the previous owners had been there for 40 years and it was ready for a carefully planned transformation.
"So, I called in Stephen Matthews Architects," she says.
The resulting re-imagination has seen the house move seamlessly into the 21st century, while retaining its original charm.
Instead of five bedrooms, there are now four, but in the process Lisa has gained a big home office — come-dressing room and wardrobe.
The master suite — with bedroom and bathroom — is huge and impressive, each with glass walls to the garden which provides a stunning vista, while remaining private.
Next comes the formal lounge, large and lovely with access to a deck surrounded by glass balustrades, linking it to more greenery beyond.
In the middle of the house lies the spacious U-shaped kitchen with space for a big, solid family dining table and chairs at its centre. It enjoys access to a paved patio, with room for lounging — and a pool beyond.
"The pool's great but I don't use it a lot myself as it gets quite warm with the heat pump and I like my water cold." says Lisa.
Back inside, the family wing to the right of the house includes a large separate laundry with guest toilet, three more double bedrooms and a nifty living/media room and bathroom.
"This way, my now grown-up daughters were able to do their own thing," says Lisa. "It was great."
Just five minutes away from Epsom Girls Grammar, the girls could sleep in and still get to school on time, and the shops of Newmarket and motorway access are all handy.
Lisa admits to adoring her Epsom property and is delighted with the results of her good work, but having married last year, she and her new husband Richard feel that it's time to find a property that is truly theirs as a couple.
Lisa admits that she loves a challenge, so their next property could be another renovation.
"We just want to leave this property in good hands," she says.
"We've honoured its history and feel sure that the next owners will, too.
"The best thing is that despite being surrounded by trees and plants here, they're quite easy-care, so that's a bonus."