Jean-Michel Tallott spent a couple of blissfully ignorant years living at the coalface when he bought this villa 13 years ago. Fresh off the plane from Christchurch, he didn't know Auckland well but sensed a smart move when he saw this Grey Lynn corner property for sale.

He spotted a ladder on site and climbed up on to the roof to satisfy his curiosity.

Sweeping views from West Harbour's marina east to city horizons told him all he needed to know. He stepped down off the ladder and moved right in.

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A single man at the time, JM (as he is best known) based his office and training facility out of the two front rooms, working as brand manager for French beauty company Sothys.

He had little time for the world beyond his four walls until a couple of gardeners offered to clean up his ivy-clad back fence.

"The ivy was over a metre high. It was so overgrown I couldn't see the water. I had no idea that there was a harbour view from inside the old kitchen," he says.

There was more to come. A neighbour with family connections to the house told him that the concrete wall was once part of the local coal depot with its entry off the Stanmore Rd side street.

Those stories and an old "Stanmore Rd" street sign that JM found in his garden have all found a place in the home, which he renovated in 2011.

By then, this 1910 villa had logged its first century and JM has kept and restored many original features. From the leadlight front door window and the native timber floors to that tamed, ivy-clad fence that is now their secure off-street parking bay, this home unfolds from its single-level original front to a three-level extension at the back.

This is now home to JM, his wife Courtney, a physiotherapist, and their 11 month-old son Leo. Leo's bedroom is one of three in the original part of the house, two of which have the original fireplaces.

These decorative features still share the same internal portion of the chimney that was retained when the above-roof portion was removed. Opposite Leo's room, the family bathroom features the original Dalton claw foot bath that has been restored.

At the end of the central hallway beneath board and batten ceilings, this house steps up to an integrated family living area with pre-finished, distressed French Oak flooring. "It's wonderful because I can be working in the kitchen but not left out of what is going on," says Courtney.

The same Italian granite in the kitchen bench is repeated around the gas fire surround with built-in display shelving on one side and JM's discreet "Stanmore Rd" bar behind closed doors on the other.

Off this living area, carpeted stairs with American Oak balusters lead to the master bedroom, dressing area and en suite on the top floor. Downstairs, 100sq m of ground floor company training rooms have been converted to self-contained living quarters with two bedrooms, and a separate entrance off Stanmore Rd.

JM and Courtney met through mutual friends when he threw a party to celebrate the All Blacks winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He'd just finished the renovation — "the plastic was still in the oven", he says. Now they want a home together, possibly near the beaches of the North Shore.

45 SURREY CRESCENT, GREY LYNN
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land 456sq m, house 281sq m.
• Price: CV $2,875,000
• Inspect: Sun 11-11.45am or by appointment.
• Auction: Sept 6, 1pm.
• Schools: Grey Lynn School, Pasadena Intermediate, Western Springs College.
• Contact: Caroline Daniel 021 922 223 or Martin Dobson 021 376 952, oneroof.co.nz/1184410
*3 OSP