For Vanessa and Joe Biddles, redecorating the 1910 villa they bought five years ago was a matter of "unlocking the elegance".

The home had been well-looked after by previous owners. But by the time they saw it, it was in need of a makeover that would show off its heritage charm.

"We didn't have to do anything structural — what we've done is mostly interior design," says Vanessa. "We've highlighted its lovely features, and we put our heart and soul into doing that."

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The couple has combined the traditional villa features of the home — such as the sash windows, leadlight glass and high board and batten ceilings — with their love of tropical design.

"We wanted it to feel as much like a resort as we could," says Vanessa. "It's our little slice of Fiji."

They have used tasteful neutral shades, and recarpeted. In the kitchen green cabinetry was resprayed a crisp white, giving the room a whole new lease of life. Vanessa and Joe put in new appliances, including a huge cooker with a gas hob and three ovens.

French doors on two sides open out to a private wrap-around deck that was raised from ground level so there are no steps to go down.

The rear part of the deck is perfect for barbecues, and has been much used over the years, says Joe.

"We like entertaining, and this house is so good for that."

When the weather doesn't lend itself to hosting visitors on the deck, the lounge is ideal.

The size of the room often stops people in their tracks — it's huge. It was previously three smaller rooms, now converted into one, and includes an office area where Joe can work while still being part of family life. Meanwhile Vanessa has a floating desk cleverly slotted into an empty space alongside the kitchen bench next door.

Also on the ground floor are the children's bedrooms, bathroom and laundry, with plenty of storage space.

Upstairs, the master bedroom is a tranquil haven with an en suite bathroom, plenty of cupboard space, and french doors out to a balcony.

A bonus of the property is the sleepout. Basically a shell that appeared to have previously been used as an office, it has been renovated to create a stylish guest room, complete with a light-filled en suite bathroom and storage.

"I've got a lot of family from out of town so it has been great for visitors," says Joe.

The home has been a wonderful oasis in a truly special heritage neighbourhood full of similar homes. The area doesn't get through traffic and with the Stanley Bay ferry terminal practically at the end of the street it has been an easy commute across the water into the city for Joe.

30 RUSSELL ST, DEVONPORT
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land, 477sq m, House 200sq m.
Tender: Closes Thu Nov 8, 4pm.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-1.45pm.
• Schools: Stanley Bay Primary, Belmont Intermediate, Takapuna Grammar.
• Contact: Linda Simmons, Barfoot & Thompson, 0274 590 957, oneroof.co.nz/1206612
*2 OSP