Everyone knows what to expect from the outside of Franklin Rd homes at this time of year, lit up by their owners in a glorious display of Christmas cheer.
But few would realise what an unforeseen treat this one is inside, both for its surprising spaciousness and its unexpected ambience.
Mary and Ken Whaley are long-time Freemans Bay residents, living here all their married life and enjoying the locale's diversity and how handy it is.
On strolls from their previous home nearby in Wood St, they'd been drawn to a little single-storey bungalow here, owned by an elderly lady.
They bought the scrim-lined circa-1940s home in 2004.
"We loved the fact it had windows right across its front. But it had no telephone, shower or insulation."
At first they intended to emphasise renovation, but discovered some original materials were too tired to be integrated into architect Grant Harris' re-design. "But it was very important that we honoured the house that was here, while enhancing it and making it a home for the 21st century," Mary says.
The resulting home, completed in 2005, complements neighbours' character with its weatherboard exterior, upper front veranda and continued use of a bank of front windows. The big silver entrance door with copper detailing is a product of their business, Metalier, which supplies sprayable water-based metal coatings internationally, and manufactures and applies them in New Zealand.
It heralds a three-level interior which often surprises visitors.
"They're stunned by how big it is," Mary says. "And they love the decor. What looks from the outside to be quite a modest and traditional home on the inside turns out to be quite spectacular and strong, with more of a minimalist, industrial feel."
It's an interior flooded in light despite having no side windows for privacy. This is achieved by skylights and lots of glass front and back.
"The idea is that the house begins at the road and then just carries on like a long tube which is sliced off at the end, almost whimsically," says Mary.
It opens to a north-facing, fenced front garden; created by designer Michael Burton, which reaps sunshine through a gap in the street's plane trees. Big rear windows introducing more light celebrate a glorious outlook looking over leafy terrain towards the city.
"We have the benefits of inner-city living with all the green and privacy of a much larger property."
The layout is versatile and roomy for entertaining and partying. The ground-floor entry level is essentially one big space for living, dining and cooking, apart from a service pod housing a powder room and utility room.
A long concrete bench right down one side anchors the space and offers plentiful seating and vast storage in drawers underneath.
Polished aggregate concrete floors here join stainless steel and timber in the rear kitchen (with scullery) and timber and metal grating in the stairwell in a combination that's lightly industrial but not stark.
Mary loves the light over the stairs, which lead up to a front master bedroom with veranda, en suite and dressing room, and rear bedroom admiring the rear outlook, with en suite and built-in wardrobing.
The section's slope allows the versatile lower level. Lately it's been a showroom and office for Metalier and their newer business importing American protective coatings. But when family stayed, its big room opening to a rear courtyard was a second living area. It's supplemented by a bedroom, bathroom, library (used as a baby's room for a spell), designer laundry and oodles of storage including an under-house cache.
The rear double garage/carport has a cheeky red ceiling, reminiscent of Mary's irrepressible nature.
The Whaleys want to work with their commercial designer daughter on another home, but will miss their time on this street. "It's wonderful living on Franklin Rd at Christmas time," Mary says.By Sandra Goodwin