Shelly Pathak looks out to her front path and picket gate and sees shades of the English countryside, where she was born. Out the back, she looks out to tiers of subtropical colour and sees elements of her Indian heritage.

In the midst of these vignettes stands the 1888 kauri bay villa Shelly and her partner Richard Adlard bought in December 2014.

The couple, who both work in the corporate world, bought it for entirely practical, rather than sentimental, reasons.

When they moved here from England in 2001, they made a deal: they wouldn't ship any belongings, including her books and his speakers, until they owned their own home.

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"Our first home had to fit my books," says Shelly. "The books were non-negotiable.

"Everything else was negotiable, even my sewing room at the front, but not my books — they're part of my history,"

The emotional connection to this property came later, as Richard unpacked his speakers and Shelly filled shelves with books and the half-wine barrel in the front garden with verdant colour.

For Shelly, the view from her workroom/home office at the front of the house is "like a little country garden lane", and never ceases to thrill.

Says Richard: "We had lived in North London and we wanted a break from the intensity of life and the old Victorian landscape.

"Here in Kingsland we were, unconsciously, I suppose, attracted to the same vibe and feeling as an inner-city London village."

The house was tenanted when they bought it and proved relatively easy to convert back to a double-storey family home.

They kept the carpet everywhere except in one bedroom and maximised storage potential.

Richard tackled the painting, returning key rooms, including the hall and its ornate archway, from the colour Shelly called "rental cream" to a pristine white.

"White lightens the hall and it looks great with the dark timber floors. It brings it into this century," she says.

Along the way, they made intriguing discoveries. In the front bedroom, which retains its cream walls, Shelly pulled up carpet by the fireplace and found kauri floorboards and Victorian glossy hearth tiles.

As a result, that room remained the only one stripped of its carpet. Of the tiles, she says: "I love them, though some of them are cracked and missing because that's part of the story of the house.

"I feel as we are the custodians of this house and that she is going to outlast us."

In putting up wall fixtures, Richard discovered behind modern plaster wallboard original kauri sarking that would have been covered in hessian and wallpaper.

In the kitchen. he fitted additional cupboards above the hob and bench, part of which is aged timber.

On the other side, beneath the timber countertop, a wrap-around stainless steel bench and integrated sink makes for a functional kitchen.

Down the hallway, the original "Stanley" copper toilet cistern is a talking point for visiting tradesmen.

The adjacent bathroom has an original claw-foot bath, which is too large to get through the door for off-site refurbishment.

Any further restoration is for the next owners, as Shelly and Richard are moving to Westmere.

27 THIRD AVE, KINGSLAND
• 5 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land 379sq m, house 148sq m.
• Auction: Jan 30.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-1.30pm.
• Schools: Newton Central, Kowhai Intermediate, Auckland Girls, Western Springs College.
• Contact: Robyn Ellson, Ray White, 021 800 891.
*1 OSP