Lawrence Hooker had a hankering for a pretty 1905 villa he'd seen as a private sale in 2008. The property didn't sell, the house was rented out and the owners moved to Christchurch. One year later he and his wife Joanne McDonald-Hooker were looking to move from their bungalow in Mt Wellington when Joanne spotted "his" house back on the market.

"I was so excited — I guess we just got lucky," says Lawrence. "The owners insisted on taking us through the history of the house. We've seen a photo of the street in 1930, and there it is, with its square front.

"You can still see where there are villas dotted along this street every 10 or 15 houses, it would have been country then, a long way from the city."

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In fact, today the neighbourhood is a fast 15 minutes from the city. From the elevated back of the house there are views to Mt Albert, Mt Hobson and the leafy streets in between and the house sits on a generous old-school quarter acre section.

The busy couple were lucky the house had been sympathetically renovated in 1998, the roof popped for a pair of attic bedrooms and an en suite, and a huge Victorian-style glass conservatory added to the back of the house. The owners had also put in a an old-new farmhouse kitchen.

But Lawrence and Joanna were itching to make changes, adding more decking to create a generous pair of outdoor rooms for dining and lounging, insulating throughout and adding central air-conditioning and heating.

There are two working fireplaces, but with the sun and insulation, Lawrence says they've hardly been used. The house is now cosy for their two children, Nina, 7, and Oscar, 4, and a hub for family and friends.

The two sitting rooms — one for the family piano — a dining room with built-in banquet next to the kitchen and the conservatory mean adults and kids have their own zones. With french doors flung open to the decks and garden, the house has happily coped with birthday parties of 30 kids or more.

The couple were not fond of the dark, Victorian colour schemes they found, so Joanne updated with plenty of white paint, smart carpets and window finishes.

She reworked the family bathroom, removing a bulky laundry, punching out a skylight and making it an en suite to the large bedroom at the front of the house they turned into their master. The deep tub is a modern nod to an old clawfoot, and she found a vintage dresser to convert to a vanity, adding old-meets-new light fixtures and mirrors.

Luxurious sweeps of linen curtains line the wardrobe and window for a dreamy vintage finish. The two other bedrooms downstairs, one for Oscar, one for guests, open to the verandah and terraces.

The couple were happy with the layout and storage of the existing farm-style kitchen. Wrapped around an original brick fireplace, with a wood-topped island and brushed linen stainless steel benches, it is a great hub to the house.

All it needed was crisp new paint in fashionable white and dark green to update the tongue-and-groove cabinetry, contrasting with the original wood floors, and modern stainless appliances.

The two attic rooms are airy and charming (and have some of the best views). The couple use the former master bedroom with its light-flooded en suite as their office and for overflow guests.

In between kids and busy careers, Joanne and Lawrence have also worked their way through the garden, tidying up the terraced back yard for the kids (including a sweet play house).

In the front yard they updated fence and gate, adding a sweep of white shell paths in a formal curve to surround an old fountain (now planted with succulents).

An old gazebo was refurbished for a lovely summer time retreat. With its clipped hedges and boundary of old trees, the garden looks much as they imagined it did in Victorian times.

But after nearly 10 years in the house they never thought they'd own, the couple are moving across town to be closer to the kids' schools — to another do-up for their next 10 years.

100 NEW WINDSOR RD, NEW WINDSOR
• 5 bedrooms, 5 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• House 211sq m, Land 1011 sq m.
• Tender: Dec 13.
• Inspect: Today 2-2.30pm.
• Schools: New Windsor Primary.
• Contact: Michelle Roache, Ray White, 021 615 207; Jamie Morrison, 021 684 400.
raywhite.com/auckland-city/new-windsor/2005623/