It was the downstairs room that clinched it. Midge Marsden was already impressed with the 1927 Onehunga bungalow he and his partner were viewing but the minute he saw the spacious basement room, he knew they'd found their next home.
"The house was ticking all the boxes and then I walked into the ultimate man cave and that was it, I wanted it," says acclaimed blues musician Midge.
"When we walked in I clapped my hands and it was dead-sounding — I knew it would be great for playing music.
"My band come over to rehearse and I can crank up the music and you can't hear a thing."
While Midge immediately fell for the house when he saw it seven years ago, he didn't
know much about the suburb.
Originally from New Plymouth, his home for the previous 30 years had been Raglan — he'd never lived in Auckland for more than a few months.
"I didn't know anything about Onehunga, other than it had the Hard To Find Bookshop and DressSmart," says Midge.
But he quickly discovered the area, one of the oldest parts of Auckland, had a lot going for it — plenty of character, great shops and eateries, all just a short walk from the Arthur St house.
Midge and his partner bought the house at auction. It had been renovated by previous owners but they quickly set about making further improvements, including rewiring and insulating.
"It's so warm, we hardly ever have to have a heater on in winter," says Midge.
They installed a double gas oven in the kitchen and exchanged two small fridges for a larger one.
The bathrooms were updated and the original wooden floors re-polished.
One of the things that had particularly appealed to Midge about the house was its elevated position on a corner site.
But he wasn't as impressed with a raised part of the garden where the previous owners had placed a kids' swing set. "It was a waste of space, very under-utilised," he says.
A keen gardener who works part-time in the grounds of a rest home, he saw an opportunity to turn this area into a vegetable garden.
A retaining wall went in and eight planter boxes were built. Midge now grows everything from silverbeet and lettuce to chilis and capsicum, and says they've saved a small fortune in veges over the years.
Meanwhile, a huge deck off the living room has provided an ideal entertaining space.
North-facing and covered by a sail cloth to provide shade, it gets a lot of use. "We live out here in summer, he says."
The living room also gets lots of sun, as well as a view over the neighbourhood. One of the best views is from a guest room and its built-in window seat towards Onehunga Wharf, which is due to undergo a massive makeover.
The spacious master bedroom has a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite. There's also a third bedroom on the main level.
Downstairs, the music room could make a fourth bedroom if needed, or children's playroom, media room or teenage retreat.
Also downstairs is a single garage with internal access and plenty of storage space (a second single garage is next to the deck), along with a room Midge uses as an office and place to store his extensive collection of CDs and LPs.
Midge knows he'll have to get rid of lots of belongings when he moves.
He and his partner have bought an apartment a lot smaller than their house.
"We wanted a lock-up-and-leave place because we want to do more travelling," he says.
"There's a lot more of the world we want to see, so it makes sense. But we will miss this place."
88 ARTHUR ST
• 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 569sq m, house 197sq m.
• Auction: Nov 21.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-2.45pm.
• Schools: Onehunga Primary School, Royal Oak Intermediate, Onehunga High School.
• Contact: Paul Studman, Barfoot & Thompson, 021 998 563.