Nikki Willis is an artist, photographer and interior designer, so it goes without saying that the major rebuild and renovation she and husband Matt have recently undertaken on a once tired and dated 1910s villa in Mt Eden was always going to be a hands-on affair.

"Jason Bailey was our architect and he was happy to work alongside me. I had lots of interesting materials in mind, plus colours I was dying to try, and he created the framework for me to put it all together," she says.

Among other things, including its prime location, just a few minutes' walk from Mt Eden Normal school, the house's elevation attracted the couple immediately. It has views towards Eden Park, and beyond, to the Waitakere Ranges.

The front of the property is simple and smart with easy-care plantings and a big white gate. From the street, you could be forgiven for not realising what a large home this is and as a result it's hard not to be stunned when you step inside the front door.


The children's bedrooms come first, with Jonty's at the left, and Toby's just behind it. The boys both enjoy rooms that are generous doubles, and they share the family bathroom.

It has a dual shower, which comes into its own when the family is in an early morning rush.

Izzy's room is a girl's paradise, with soft colours, an eye-catching Moorish-style light fitting, a a study nook and an en suite.

The high ceilings in this part of the house are a combination of the original steel-pressed finishes and flawlessly integrated modern facsimiles, which Nikki tracked down in Australia. The herringbone parquet flooring in the hall fits in perfectly.

The master suite is enormous, with picture windows taking in the extensive views. The en suite, cleverly tucked behind the bedhead wall, has a shower, toilet and a bath, where Nikki loves to relax.

The wardrobe space next door is extensive. "But never quite big enough, of course," she says.

Down the stairway with its sophisticated dark blue walls, is the separate laundry, the black and white powder room plus the media room.

This, too, is midnight blue and, in a bold move, Nikki and Matt decided to decorate it entirely in the one colour, with blue ceiling, blue walls, blue carpet - and even blue shutters.

The result is a spectacular space, much loved by the children and their friends - especially in winter, when it's warm and cosy.

Following the rebuild, the sun streams into the back of the property, where a soaring cavity with skylights floods the living areas with light.

The kitchen, dining and family room ceilings are painted an elegant dark grey, contrasting with the lighter grey joinery which, in turn, is set off by the marble benchtop.

The huge island is a magnet to family and friends, who gather to eat, drink, chat, or even do homework.

The family room has a gas fire, which is seldom used as the house retains heat well.
Outside, beyond large glass doors is extensive decking, a heated swimming pool and an artificial turf lawn.

A change of circumstances sees the family moving on, but they'll never forget the happy times they've enjoyed here.

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