Steve Shilham was probably born about 100 years too late.

The Englishman is a craftsman who would have been comfortable in the world of bygone artists and furniture makers such as William Morris and Gustav Stickley, but instead he applied his skills to modern St Marys Bay, renovating a 1920s bungalow with his wife Sandra.

"The bungalow was carved off the section of the big house next door," says Sandra. "When we bought 25 years ago, there was a separate downstairs flat we lived in for two or three years while we renovated.

"But, really, Steve has kept pushing and changing and building as we lived here. Every year we rearranged the rooms, or he found something to build."


The original bungalow was carved into a series of closed-off rooms that pretty much ignored the property's greatest asset — views to Westhaven, the harbour bridge and city.

Sandra can barely remember the layout of the original house, as the transformation included pushing out a gracious front porch to the street (the house wraps the bottom of the private cul-de-sac off Ring Tce), refurbishing the single garage and creating a welcoming panelled front entry.

Steve even had a stone street number carved in craftsman style, impeccably reproducing bungalow balustrades, columns and window details.

The street level houses the main living, master bedroom and guest bedroom. The Shillams pushed out a sunroom on one corner of the old veranda to create a sitting room that is all about the views.

The dining room has a picture window, as well as a small veranda. The couple divided the rooms with craftsman beams, panelled wing walls and — Steve's special touch — exquisite handmade wall sconces and a built-in media cabinet that wraps around the vintage fireplace.

The oak sideboard in the dining room came from a Remuera mansion.

Window seats in the sitting room and master bedroom were added in authentic style, and Steve also made the leadlight and stained glass windows throughout the house.

Sandra's eye for detail is evident in the scrupulously designed storage, including touches such as a fold-out ironing board in a panelled wardrobe, drawers under all the window seats, and the timeless kitchen.

Bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry were all rearranged to accommodate a kitchen lit by stained glass skylights. It has a breakfast nook and mix of stainless steel benchtops and African rosewood cabinets.

The cedar bifold doors of their bedroom are often left open to keep a sense of Steve and Sandra being close to it all. They upgraded their en suite bathroom two years ago.

The guest bathroom has a period air and the guest room on this main floor has its own side courtyard and garden access.

The entire house has new cedar joinery and was rewired, insulated and plastered to exacting standards.

The biggest change Sandra and Steve made was putting in a staircase to connect upper and lower floors, naturally with plenty of bungalow-appropriate detailing in the balustrades and columns.

Downstairs has a full kitchen, bathroom and a sitting room, which opens to the covered veranda and courtyard garden.

At night, it converts to a movie space with a screen that pulls down from the ceiling.

There are two bedrooms on this floor, plus Sandra has an office tucked into the back, with cupboards to hold wine at an even temperature.

The couple have worked on the garden over the years, manicuring the trees to block a view of the road from the upper floor, while creating a shady spot for the dining table.

A mix of easy care sub-tropicals and terraced garden make this a low-work haven for the couple. But they now yearn to split time between England and New Zealand, so are selling to buy and build in the UK and keep a smaller foothold back here.

"We just hope someone falls in love with what we've created here; someone who loves arts and crafts as much as we do," says Sandra.

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