When Adair Wheeler and her husband John Devine decided to renovate their house, they halved the worries about the project and doubled the good vibes with one savvy decision.

Instead of renting a house with their two children, they teamed up with Adair's sister Sarah and her husband Simon and their two children, who also had to move out of their home for renovations.

Together they rented a house for eight. The school-age cousins had always got on well and the adults had each other to bounce ideas off.

They also had a built-in babysitting service. "If one of us needed to go down to the house to talk to tradesmen the other would look after the kids — it worked really well," says Adair.

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Back in 1996, Adair and John were about to start renovating their previous house when they found this 1913 bungalow was on the market. It was much closer to the children's school.

They quit the planned renovation and moved into the bungalow, knowing they would renovate over time.

In 2001, they did, adding a new flared front porch to new rear living areas inside and out.

On the front boundary, cobbled pavers mark the transition from the footpath to the Balinese-style front garden with its tall bamboo.

At the back, Adair and John have retained their expansive lawn and developed a sub-tropical garden that includes a sleep-out/office.

They commissioned architect Kim Sinclair to rework the rear of the house to marry it with the outdoors, insisting that he preserve the lawn and garden.

Kim did so in two parts. He added a porch off the sitting room/bedroom at one end and a larger "outdoor room" at the opposite end, with detail in keeping with the house itself.

The outdoor room is an elegant transition area that keeps sun out in summer and allows light in in the winter, making it a drawcard for year-round entertaining.

Within the open plan living area, Kim opened up the little-used west-facing sunporch and extended its exterior wall to create a new, larger kitchen.

With its floor-to-ceiling timber cabinetry, matching island bench and timber floors, the kitchen is a golden backdrop against surrounding modern white walls.

There's a door from the kitchen to the herb garden. Another leads to the laundry, with its scullery-scale bench space and stairs down to the garage.

This house is a far cry from the dark, panelled walls and the impossible-to-remove cork flooring of old.

Adair and John had eucalyptus timber laid over the cork. As a result the house is warmer underfoot and insulated more from noise, most noticeably throughout the entrance, hallway, and the living area.

As for Devonport, it is the sense of community that they will miss the most.

20 ASCOT AVE, DEVONPORT
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• Land 791sq m, house 220 sq m.
• Tender: Closes March 20.
• Outgoings: $14,964.53 (approx) a year.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 2-2:45pm or call for private viewing.
• Contact: Julie Quinton, Bayleys, 021 894 071; Paula Halford, 021 705 199.
• Schools: Vauxhall primary, Belmont intermediate, Takapuna Grammar.