By Robyn Welsh

Philip Toohill has a box of paperwork documenting the transformation of this landmark Art Deco home into this grand edition, including a 15-seat cinema.

When he leaves here, he'll hand this box to the new owners, along with a second box detailing the latest chapter in this home's 80-year-long history. His box contains all the Art Deco fixtures Philip removed when he redecorated the house for a more modern look.



"It's just got a few light switches, power points, a light fitting, a few handles and the coffee grinder that was fitted to the kitchen wall," he says.

A fan of the Art Deco style, he took care not to touch any of the authentic architectural detail out of respect for the late 1930s era in which the house was built and the authentic renovation which elevated it to great heights in the 1990s.

The house that greeted Philip and his wife Louise three years was pale green on the outside, and resplendent indoors in the burgundy, blue and yellow tones that Philip and Louise felt needed a repaint in white.

1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

It was an easy decision to commit to yet another joint project that has seen them finish this light grey coloured house with a solid concrete front fence and lush, sculptural planting.

"We bought our previous place in 30 minutes and we bought this place in 45 minutes," says Philip. "That was how long it took for everyone to leave the open home and for us to put the offer in front of the agent, cash unconditional."

During that open home Philip even followed one visitor up the fixed steel ladder to check the solar panels on the inverted roof that is hidden from view behind the Art Deco parapets.

1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Throughout, they saw potential to enhance and add value to the house and its self-contained flat, while keeping intact the 15-seat basement cinema with its burgundy walls, decorative swags, the original movie screen and seats from Tauranga's old Odeon cinema.

"My mother was the eldest of nine growing up in an Art Deco house in Whanganui," says Philip.

It was his mother Gloria who spotted the April 2008 NZ House & Garden magazine article that featured Niel and Jette de Jong's double-storey, curved extension to the house built in 1939 for a civil servant to a Government Drawing Office plan.


The de Jongs bought here in 1991 and gave this anonymous oblong house new status with all the authenticity of the Art Deco era and a title to suit — Kahurangi, which is Māori for Dame.

Devoted to their cause, they were instrumental in establishing the Auckland Art Deco Society in 1996, about the time they embarked on the extension and the circular courtyard which Niel designed.

1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
1 Parau St, Mt Roskill, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Their emerging interest in sustainability saw them install two rainwater tanks and the solar panels.

Under Philip's ownership, the old cream carpet made way for dark stained original floorboards. The kitchen is now white with new window-side cabinetry and painted original rear wall cupboards. In the main bathroom, Philip painted the walls, retaining the de Jongs' copper bath from Scotland and Niel's plaster bas-relief mural.

For Philip and Louise, their seven-member blended family has knitted together well here. Now they're spreading their wings, this couple need to downsize.

• 5 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 708sq m, house 311sq m.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 11.45am-12.15pm.
• Schools: Dominion Rd School, Mt Roskill Intermediate, Mt Roskill Grammar.
• Contact: David Simons, UP RealEstate, 021 2777579; Roberta Stewart, 022 1003113.