At first glance this home reminded Penny Reynolds of visiting her grandmother's house as a child, but a savvy architect and thorough renovation skyrocketed its modernity.

This is the second home the Reynolds have owned in Mt Eden, a suburb they wanted to live in as a family after returning from Australia in 2009.

Penny says: "We'd lived in big cities there and with Auckland growing at the rate it was, we wanted to live centrally, close to transport routes, while still having a village atmosphere."

After selling a renovated worker's cottage in Leamington Rd, she and husband Stewart found this brick-and-tile towards the village end of Grange Rd. They agreed they could retain its best elements while transforming it into something special.

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Stewart says: "We didn't think a 1950s brick-and-tile would be our thing, but we could see the potential this house held, plus the location won us over. The village with its cafes and bars is a five-minute walk away at the top of the road."

Also, schools were close by for children Finn, 14, and Ciara, 9, as this address sits in a pocket qualifying it for multiple school zones — Mt Eden Normal and Balmoral Primary, Auckland Normal and Balmoral Intermediate, and Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls Grammar and Mt Albert Grammar.

The couple completed a major renovation in 2013, having decided with their architect that they'd preserve the home's brick exterior with its meticulous grouting, rather than render over it. They teamed the brick with the darker contrast of black-stained cedar around the entranceway and in a rear extension.

To unify the colour scheme they opted for dark joinery and installed double glazing. The renovation extended to stripping interior gib to insulate and optimising a undeveloped basement level.

The front of the section features a big pohutukawa they call "our Christmas tree" and
a level lawn for a trampoline. There's off-street parking on a re-concreted driveway leading to the lower level's internal-access carpeted garage-laundry, also roomy enough for gym gear.

Re-tiled steps lead to the front door opening into a hallway with striking dark-stained tawa floorboards.

This level's front lounge with balcony sits opposite the master bedroom, which has a window seat, double wardrobe and double shower-head en suite.

A guest room gives visiting out-of-town grandparents access to a neighbouring bathroom.

There's a surprising reveal towards the end of the house. A series of previous small rooms has been unified and extended into a spacious, modern open-plan kitchen-living-dining room embracing rear grounds. It's accompanied by a side study.

Penny says: "People are always surprised to walk down the hall and find this."

Salvaged tawa was sourced to floor the extension, where bifolds open to decks and rear grounds.

The couple enjoy design challenges, Penny choosing interior colours and Stewart planning the kitchen, which features an island topped in engineered stone, two pantries and Smeg appliances, including two ovens.

There's a green outlook to the rear grounds, and scope for pool or spa.

The Reynolds say that when they're entertaining, the children can enjoy the third living space of a media room downstairs.

It has one of three downstairs heat pumps and is accompanied by two good-sized bedrooms, a bathroom with bath and a large storage-linen cupboard.

Stewart's parents are from the South Island and the Reynolds are moving to Nelson.

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