Hilda Hodgson's late husband Nick may have taken some persuading to buy an older house after the couple had lived for 21 years in two Hillsborough homes they'd had built for them.
But when this 1918 Arts and Crafts home in central Epsom came on to the market 22 years ago, it had already grabbed Hilda's heart.
"I used to drive past this house and always felt compelled to look at it. There was something about the line of the roof and the shape of the house itself," says Hilda.
When they looked through the two-storey Owens Rd house before it went it to auction, Hilda says it was a mess "from top to toe".
At least four pokey rooms, including an old kitchen, laundry and toilet, ran across the north-facing back of the house which cried out to be opened up to the sun and outdoors. The garden was unkempt and only a few power points serviced the whole house.
But the Hodgsons could see that the house, with double-brick walls throughout, had been built to last. It also had elegantly proportioned bedrooms and living spaces that flowed well with a strong sense of connection to the grounds outside - not to mention exquisite original detailing, including leadlight windows and dormer windows.
Nick and Hilda tackled the renovation and refurbishment of the house with enthusiasm and the considerable patience needed to restore it properly and capitalise on its private, north-facing aspect.
"I still remember coming home one day when we were renovating to see that one of my granddaughters had dropped in to see me when I was out. She had written me a note in the dust - there was that much of it," says Hilda.
Changes included gutting the back of the house and opening it up to create a light-filled farmhouse-style kitchen, dining space, family room and downstairs bathroom.
Hilda has decorated this restful, conservatory-style space with soft blues and yellows, choosing chintz fabrics - as she has done throughout the house - that complement the era of the house.
French panelled doors open to an outdoor dining terrace paved with warm-toned bricks that were recycled from the renovation. The beautifully maintained and skilfully planted formal garden is delineated by clipped hedges and fringed with mature trees including a Forest Pansy, a peach tree and a large old fig tree.
Despite being just a few properties back from the Owens Rd and Gillies Ave intersection and close to the Gillies Ave motorway on-ramp, the centrally located house is extremely quiet with no noticeable traffic noise.
"I have cousins who live in the back blocks of Henderson who can't believe how quiet it is here when they've come to visit."
The ground level includes a formal living room that flows into an intimate, formal dining room with a large bay window added by the Hodgsons, and a west-facing front room that adjoins a large, welcoming reception lobby.
Painstakingly restored rich Oregon wood panelling lines the lobby walls, the central staircase and features in architrave, skirting and ceiling details around the house.
The staircase leads to a wide upstairs landing that opens on to an office, a large, pristine modern bathroom and three big bedrooms, including the spacious master bedroom which could easily double as an additional living room.
Lush carpeting, richly patterned wallpapers as well as carefully chosen period furniture, which could be sold with the house, all complement its timeless quality.
Hilda's home has been an excellent gathering point for her two daughters and their families - including five lovely granddaughters - who will all miss the special quality of this stately but welcoming home.