You could say Parnell is Simon Hall's favourite part of town. At the moment he's living down the road from this picture-book home he owns at 95 St Stephens Ave. "I've lived in three houses in this street and two other houses in Parnell, all within about 300m of each other," he says.
He bought No95 nearly a decade ago and lived here for five years with his former wife and daughters, Alana, now 16, Corina, 14 and Sabrina, 9. The house, which Simon understands was originally built in the 1860s, has been rented for the past two years.
Although Simon is somewhat of a St Stephens Ave local, he doesn't go as far back as the neighbour down the road who's lived in the area his whole life. This neighbour has seen some interesting sights - the details of which he's shared with Simon. Apparently the late Barry Crump used to park his Land Rover outside number 95 when he used to visit the daughter of a former owner of the house.
The owners before Simon were fashion business couple Brian Hall and Isabel Harris, who owned the Thornton Hall label and were also the proprietors of Hullabaloo boutique on Queen St. They lived here for more than 20 years.
The home was one of several featured in a 1963 New Zealand Woman's Weekly article written by Sandra Potter called "Gay old ladies" about some of the old houses being restored around central Auckland.
This home's dormer windows, wisteria-fringed veranda and shingle roof are in keeping with its vintage, although ironically, Simon says the shingled roof is one of the newest parts of the house as it was replaced only a few years ago. Hidden behind a fence and with key-pad entry on the corner of St Stephens Ave and Awatea Rd, the house has park-like grounds, with a pohutukawa and Norfolk pine in the front yard.
Simon says this lower section of St Stephens Ave is so desirable because "it's a quiet, leafy part of Parnell that's so close to the CBD, with easy commuting as it's close to the motorway junction".
Simon says the fact the house has "lots of living areas" will appeal to many. There is a casual, tiled conservatory adjoining an indoor pool, as well as three further generously proportioned living rooms that flow on from each other on the downstairs level. French doors open on to the veranda and a tiled patio area. Also downstairs is a timber kitchen with a Carrara-marble benchtop, two large bedrooms and a spacious family bathroom with a bath and heritage-style fittings.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, plus a bathroom with a standalone bath. The master suite has a view of Rangitoto, an en suite, plus a walk-in wardrobe.
The house is full of charm and grace and is completely liveable as it is, but buyers may wish to make their own cosmetic improvements. "I had quite a prominent architect visit and he was quite excited about the potential here and said it was pretty clear what needed to be done," says Simon. Part of the changes involved linking some of the separate living areas and relocating the kitchen. Outside, above the double garage, is a storage area accessed by a character wrought-iron staircase, which could be converted into a teenage retreat.
Simon and his daughters will leave any changes up to new owners though, because after many years being locals they are moving away from Parnell to a family home in Remuera.