Claude Megson was one of New Zealand's architectural greats, whose distinctive style fell out of fashion for years. His substantial body of work included some medium density homes known for their incredibly elaborate small spaces, like this one, where Elspeth and Jimmy Gray live in Remuera.

Built in 1969, it sits high against a steep slope, secure behind an ivy-covered wall at the end of a quiet no-exit street.

With exposed concrete block and fibre cement sheet walls, rough sawn timber ceilings and steel framed skylights and doors, it speaks of austere yet elegant industrial style.

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A double height light-well soaring up through its midst floods the entire living space with sun.

As architects themselves, Elspeth and Jimmy had been looking for a two-bedroom heritage apartment to do up.

"This was not a suburb we'd searched for," says Jimmy.

"We'd never thought it was an option."

But this one-bedroom Claude Megson terrace popped up. "We walked in here and had to have it," he says.

"Claude Megson was very good at small spaces and centreing them around courtyards; following your daily rituals of getting up in the morning and going to bed at night.

"This house has been planned around those rituals, with a morning courtyard to the rear facing east and the deck in front where you can drink wine in the sun in the evening."

With one bedroom, it was smaller than any home they'd envisaged owning. But they liked the way spaces interconnect.

Says Elspeth: "Everywhere we look at green space. So much light pours in. Even on a grey day, it's light.

"It's a small house but it creates interesting spaces. Living small has become a lot more interesting. In hindsight, we don't know if we'd be as happy in an apartment because here we have all this outdoor space."

About a year ago, they were joined by Brooks, their Boston Terrier pup. The private, contained outdoor living makes it as easy to keep a dog here as it is for the couple to entertain. Doors open from every room, so summer breezes waft through.

Apart from the small kitchen, which Jimmy says was probably put in in the 1990s, everything is original. The couple found council plans showing how the kitchen would have looked, with its deep benchtops, deep skirtings and rimu shelving.

Last Easter, they cleared weeds from the slope behind and started the garden from scratch with help from Elspeth's mum, who has a big garden in Taranaki.

She piled her ute with tractor seat plants and clivias and they are arranged in sweeps alongside a row of nikau palms — a beautiful backdrop to the courtyard and living spaces.

Elspeth and Jimmy are sad to leave this architectural gem. But now it's time to search for something a little bigger.

2/64 HAPUA, REMUERA
• 1 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land 202sq m, House 74sq m.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-2.45pm, Wed 7-7:30pm or by appointment.
• Auction: Wed 31 Oct, 12.30pm. Ray White, 136 Broadway, Newmarket.
• Schools: Auckland Grammar School and Epsom Girls' Grammar School.
• Contact: Ken Choong, Ray White, 021 780 524, oneroof.co.nz/1197391