For London couple Louise and Malcolm, settling into a new life in New Zealand with a baby and toddler meant house-hunting was their top priority when they arrived in 2005.

"About 10 days after we arrived we came out to Titirangi and saw this house, saw the bush and the village," says Louise. "I knew instantly this was Arts and Crafts and extremely rare."

The house was built by Frank Oscar Peats, who was well known in the Titirangi district.
Peats built the house in 1926 and next to it the Treasure House — a remarkable museum for kauri gum, natural artefacts and Māori taonga that still stands.



At that point the property covered the entire corner from Titirangi village through to Huia Rd, now subdivided for the kindergarten and another bungalow. In 1930, Hotel Titirangi (now Lopdell House) was built on the other corner of the property.

In the 1940s, the house was given the Australian First Nation name of Quambi, meaning a place of rest, when two sisters turned it into a recuperation home for soldiers with TB.

The previous owners had retained the original footprint and features of the two-storey stucco house, so there were no nasty mid-century alterations to undo.

The ground floor bathroom and laundry, and the upstairs family bathroom, had already been modernised (including underfloor heating), but the built-in leadlight cupboards and sideboards, fireplaces, barley sugar columns in the entrance way, all the doors, windows and architraves were untouched.

Even the meat safe and glass-fronted butler's cabinets in the kitchen were still there, although the kitchen was modern.

At some point a series of smaller scullery or service rooms had been knocked into one room and french doors added to open to the sunny north-facing backyard.

"We were so lucky, this house is surrounded by amazing trees, but gets sun all day, it's all rimu and so sound," says Louise.

Lucky also that Louise knew a lot about the leading Arts and Crafts proponent William Morris, so took the lead on renovations.

Louise turned to classic William Morris linens for the curtains and blinds (apart from a sweet Cath Kidston floral for daughter Alice's bedroom), combined with the smudgy sophisticated paint colours of the era.

The hallway got a golden wallpaper, old carpets were stripped out and rimu floors sanded. The couple retained the period dark stains on the rimu joinery and stair banisters, enjoying the odd local quirks of fancy floral ceiling roses and turned barley posts that they wouldn't see in England.

Eventually, as every English person learns when they discover how cold some old New Zealand houses are, they fully insulated the house, replacing the draughty old glass and updating the wiring.

Louise designed a new kitchen that repeated the shaker-style panelling of the vintage glass-fronted cabinets (complete with original flour bins), adding a Falcon cooker, vintage taps and a butler's sink.

She added a sideboard under the bay window and a period-look range hood.

The sitting room off the kitchen, and the second more formal parlour, are separate rooms with their own character; the back porch is still as it was when it led to laundry rooms (now tucked behind bifold doors in a roomy bathroom).

The final touch was a massive landscaping project last summer. A sweep of cedar stairs and platforms leads from the garage on the lower property (on a separate title) up to the house, meeting granite steps and classic gravel walkways.

But with the kids at school in Albany, it is time to give up their treasure and move closer to their activities.

• 5 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 3* parking spaces.
• House 210sq m, Land at 4 Huia Rd; 1,864sq m; land at 4a Huia Rd; 577sq m.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-2.45pm.
• Auction: 21 Nov.
• Schools: Titirangi school, Glen Eden Intermediate, Green Bay High School.
• Contact: Lynn Lacy-Hauck, Ray White Ponsonby, 021 190 0611,