It's a brave man who jumps in and buys a house before his wife has seen it. But one look through this five-bedroom family home in Remuera was enough to convince Aden Forrest that his partner Melissa would love it so much she'd be happy to move up to Auckland from the Hawkes Bay.
When the Forrests returned to New Zealand in 2004 after seven years in London, they pictured a leisurely country life, living in the Hawkes Bay property they had bought while overseas. But Aden's job as country manager for IT company salesforce.com was in Auckland. After a few months of commuting, he was missing his family too much during the week, so began searching for a home in Auckland close to his work.
"We had a tight radius of where we wanted to be - no more than five to 10 minutes' drive from the PWC Tower in the CBD," says Aden.
Driving down Bassett Rd, he saw a For Sale sign outside number 28 so he stopped to look inside, even though the 1910 villa appeared to be little more than a worker's cottage. Inside, the three-level home - which the previous owners of 20 years had extended and extensively renovated to accommodate family living - belied its modest appearance.
Original features, including pressed-steel ceilings, four fireplaces and board-and-batten ceilings, have been retained and some bungalow features including beamed ceilings and lead-light windows have also been added. "A bit of a Tardis" is how Aden describes the house: its main living spaces - including a formal living room, dining room, spacious modern kitchen and large family room - are on the mid-level where you enter from the street. "As a male, I thought 'this ticks all the boxes'. It's got a barbecue on the deck, you can walk straight down to the garden from the family room, and there's room in the garage for a boat. For Melissa, it had everything for the children, including a fenced section and a great little local community."
Rubbing shoulders with some grand old Auckland homes at the sought-after top end of Bassett Rd, the house backs on to the small, local Catholic primary, St Michaels School, which the Forrests' two boys, Edward, 5 and Angus, 8, attend.
Sitting east to west on a 562sq m site - with a deck running in the same direction and opening directly off the living areas - the house makes good use of the afternoon sun that floods into the open-plan family living, dining and kitchen space. One of two generous double bedrooms also on this middle level is used by the Forrests' au pair who has her own parking space at the front of the house where the garden has been formally landscaped with low-maintenance planting. A three-car garage, laundry and two more bedrooms are on the lower level. These two rooms are divided by a large bathroom with direct access to the garage - perfect for when the family comes home from a day on the boat. The main bathroom, on the middle level, has twin vanities, plenty of floor space and a spa bath that has doubled as a mini diving pool for two boys.
Upstairs is the adults' zone. The master bedroom traps the heat of the afternoon sun, has a walk-in wardrobe, en suite and a private balcony with sweeping views from the rooftop of St Michaels Church to the Sky Tower and the War Memorial Museum in the Domain.
Why would you want to move your family from such a central-city gem? Aden has been transferred to Australia. "If we weren't moving to Sydney, there's no way we'd be leaving here."