It's an understatement when Emma Andrews says the view from her bedroom is "not too bad".

She and partner Darren Hogg can see the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Rangitoto and the Sky Tower without getting out of bed.

Surely being able to look at three of the city's top landmarks from one vantage point has to be special?

"It is actually, we're very lucky and we love it," Emma says.


The en suite also has a fantastic outlook out towards the harbour bridge, which means visits to the bathroom tend to take longer than usual.

"The view is distracting," says Emma, adding that while the huge picture window alongside the spa bath allows anyone soaking in the tub to make the most of the outlook, nobody outside can see in.

"I know, I went down the road and checked."

The amazing views are one of the features that attracted Emma and Darren to the house when they bought it five years ago. They also liked the size and the character of the villa, which dates back to around 1906.

But they knew it was going to need a makeover. Previous owners had put in a stylish new kitchen and updated all but one of the bathrooms, but the rest of the home was an ode to apricot, with an abundance of orange-tinged wood and terracotta tiles.

The couple didn't rush into anything; they lived in the house for more than three years and had a son, Miller, before embarking on a renovation that involved only a little structural work (a small wall between the kitchen and lounge was removed) but has completely transformed the house.

During those years they had time to meticulously plan alterations that would not only look good, but make the house more functional and suited to their needs. For example, Darren spent hours researching laundry layouts to ensure that the washing machine was put in the best place so loading and unloading it was as easy as possible.

He also came up with a clever solution to maximise space on the deck that wraps around two sides of the top level.

He realised swapping concertina glass doors that opened up the upstairs living room to the deck for sliding ones wouldn't take up so much room. And so there would be no loss of light or the view, he designed them to slide back behind a floor-to-ceiling window, rather than a wall.

"It was a lightbulb moment, and it's made a big difference," says Emma.

The immaculate house is spread over three generous levels, with the master bedroom, en suite and a living room, with kitchenette, on the top floor.

The middle floor is the main living level, containing the lounge, dining and kitchen. The huge stone bench in the kitchen is is a popular place for visitors to sit and chat with the cook.

"You can get 10 people around it comfortably," says Emma.

Two bedrooms, each with an en suite, and a powder room are also on this level. A deck at the rear of the house overlooks the pool and back yard below.

The bottom level houses the double garage, laundry and a two-bedroom self-contained flat with a separate entrance.

"It could be used for grandparents or an au pair," says Emma. "Or you could just have it as extra living and bedroom space."

Visitors have appreciated having such a large private space, and Emma, Darren and Miller have also lived there while work was being done to the rest of the house.

One of the two bedrooms has an en suite; the other would make a good office or media room if it's not needed as a bedroom.

Doors open out from the open plan living/dining/kitchen to the pool and landscaped courtyard garden.
"It's private, and seems to have its own micro-climate — it seems to be one or two degrees warmer than anywhere else."

Emma and Darren painted walls and wooden architraves throughout the house a crisp white, creating a contemporary but classic look that complements the period features of the house, such as the original sash windows and fireplace.

There are heat pumps in most of the rooms and underfloor heating, plus the house has been smart-wired.

The St Marys Bay location has been ideal; it's close to Jervois and Ponsonby Rds, handy to the motorway and just a couple of minutes into the city.

The renovation was such a success Emma and Darren would like to do it all again.

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