Through the stained-glass front door, a double-height foyer with domed ceiling, ornate plasterwork, arched doorways, Corinthian columns, a balcony and open fire welcomes you to Stuart and Sue Reed's majestic home.

Stuart vividly remembers the first time he laid eyes on it: "You don't walk into many houses with a foyer like this — it's a crazy feature — and the fire was going as well."

Stuart says the three-level kauri home with its gabled roofline was built around 1917.

"It was an owner-builder that built the house and he must have been quite wealthy because he built it how he wanted it with all the features he loved."

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Ornate fireplaces and custom-made lights and door handles are just some of the features that have been packed into this home, which the Reeds bought 26 years ago.

At the time, it had been divided up into flats and was pretty basic.

"We lived in it how it was for a few years; it was totally ungibbed with scrim on the walls." says Stuart.

With the help of architect Leo van Veenendaal, the Reeds renovated the home.

"Leo has a very good eye," says Sue. "He kept it as natural as he could."

Stuart says: "We've embraced what it was and kept it."

The work included changing the layout of the house, building a weatherboard double garage at the end of the driveway, and putting in a heated saltwater swimming pool.

Outside, the property has been landscaped in an easy-care fashion with hedges, lillies and agapanthus underneath mature trees such as magnolia, frangipani and a sprawling gleditsia that acts like a shade umbrella in summer.

Sue says because she is a keen golfer she wanted to spend as little time as possible gardening. That philosophy extends to the rear of the house where the pool area has a more tropical feel with palms, begonias and a New Guinea fig tree.

The couple say their three boys loved growing up in the house, and would run a flying fox from the balcony in the foyer, sliding their toys down it.

A magical space with ornate ceilings and cornices, the foyer has a central fireplace.

"The fire, because it's not on an outside wall, pushes heat right through the house," says Sue.

To one side of the foyer, the more modern family room and kitchen, with marble benches, opens to a patio at the front of the house. A large, covered porch at the front door provides another outdoor entertaining space.

On the other side of the foyer, through glass doors that the couple put in to fill the house with more light, is the formal lounge and adjoining dining room with fireplaces, bay windows, and more ornate plaster work, including ceiling roses.

"It's nothing to entertain for 100 people here," says Sue. "We've had Christmas parties, pre-balls, 21sts and everyone can just spread out."

At the rear of the house, the site of the old kitchen with coal range, the Reeds have created a master bedroom with en suite and walk-in wardrobe.

Upstairs, the bedrooms have wooden ceilings and enoy views through the treetops.

On the lower level is a large rumpus room that could also be a bedroom for teenagers or guests.

"We used to have a ping-pong table down here for the kids," says Stuart. "And there is double insulation in the ceiling."

Also on this level is an old preserving room and a large workshop, all with kauri floors like the rest of the house. Further under the house, Stuart has stored timber and joinery that he will leave behind for the next owners.

With just the two of them living here, the couple is looking for something more modest.
Sue says: "We brought up our family here and it's been a fantastic family home so we're hoping another family gets to enjoy it."

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