When Brigitte Smits and Christiaan van Noppen were renovating their 1890s kauri villa they found a photo behind a fireplace.
Brigitte assumes the women in the picture once lived in the two-level home as there have been many owners and renters over the decades, though she and Christiaan have owned the house for 16 years.
Kingsland was still at the start of gentrification when they bought so there were a lot of students and renters.
"It's funny. Every time we'd meet new people and I'd say where we lived, they'd say 'I used to live there'," Brigitte says.
The house was a little run down and over the years the pair have made many changes, from moving the bathroom to creating a new kitchen. They also extended the living space out a metre and added a new semi-enclosed deck which gives them indoor/outdoor flow through the wooden sliding doors which pull right back.
Christiaan says a metre might not sound like much but adding the deck "changes the way you live".
"It's the best thing. Even in winter you can come out here and you're protected on all sides. Often we just sit here with tui in the garden."
The deck is on the upper level and looks out over the fenced back yard where there is a vege patch and fruit trees.
Teenage son Timo lives downstairs now where internal stairs lead to a couple more rooms — including a bathroom and shower — and a covered, outdoor patio perfect for barbecues.
When they bought the house, this space was rented out as number 7A, says Christiaan.
Christiaan, who is an art director, credits Brigitte for the eclectic and colourful design of their home.
The couple are Dutch and met in the Netherlands, though Christiaan had lived here since he was a boy. He enticed Brigitte to New Zealand by claiming it never rains, she says.
The hallway shows Brigitte's style well. She has used an old European technique of using a rubber roller and paint to create colourful patterns which at first glance resemble wallpaper.
During the renovations, which the couple did over time, they were careful to either keep original features or to bring back features of the original era which had been lost over the years. When they found the photograph of the two women, for example, they were replacing a 1950s fireplace in a front bedroom and putting in a more original one.
There are two big bedrooms at the front of the house and a third room which Brigitte uses as her workroom which is off the lounge but which could easily be turned into a third upstairs bedroom or a media room.
The front of the house also has a veranda and a landscaped outdoor area. The couple say they are in a great location only seconds from the train and buses. Eden Park is close, plus there are great cafes and bars in Kingsland.
Christiaan says when the first bar opened. he thought "there goes the neighbourhood" but it has been great and during the games when the crowds come you can feel the festivity.
The family has loved living here but with Timo getting older they are already finding they don't need as much space, so are moving to a smaller bungalow in Pt Chevalier with a bigger garden.
7 FIRST AVE, KINGSLAND
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1* parking spaces.
• Land 405sq m, house 164sq m.
• Sale price: CV $1,550,000.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 11-11.30am.
• Auction: July 4.
• Schools: Mt Albert Grammar, Western Springs College, Newton Central.
• Contact: Robyn Ellson, Ray White, 021 800 891, rwponsonby.co.nz/auckland/kingsland/7-first-avenue-19219812/