Seven years ago, Hayden and Kate Syers were all set to renovate a pretty bungalow on Poronui St in Mount Eden when the villa over the road they'd always admired came on the market.
"We had all the plans ready but moved instead," says Kate. "We love collecting art, and the house had been owned by two artists, first Dick Frizzell and then Don Binney.
"Apparently it had been divided into flats when Dick Frizzell converted it back into a single house, adding the painting studio out the back for his work."
At the time the couple had baby daughter Frankie (now 8) and Kate was pregnant with son Gunner (now nearly 7), so they called on interior designer Rachyl Abrahams.
She injected modern updates on classic villas, working with the couple's vintage Asian furniture and modern art.
A crisp white paint updated the entry hall and front bedrooms, all of which still had original ceiling roses and charming windows.
Closets were updated with white paint, new handles and efficient storage systems (Kate has a thing for storage) and modern light fixtures are an update on Victorian ones.
The master bedroom is a soothing pale blue, overlooking the recently re-landscaped front yard. Behind the secure pedestrian gate and sliding driveway gates is now a lawn edged with hedges and raised walls made from Mount Eden's ubiquitous scoria boulders.
With most of the house for children, Hadyn and Kate were determined to have a formal, grown-up living space for the adults.
Rachyl brought in a striking wallpaper and feature walls with complementary grey hues, a modern chandelier and built-in cabinets around the modern gas fire (used to warm English houses, the couple had quickly added insulation, under floor heating and a heat pump in the studio).
They were clever with where they spent the money — the existing bathrooms were in great condition, just needing Rachyl's touch to update walls with a metallic paint, and fresh light fixtures.
They were happy enough with the kitchen layout, so just added a new quartz counter, a striking wall of mosaic tiles, and updated cabinet fronts and appliances.
What had been a former scullery has been converted to a playroom for the children, now four with the addition of twins.
There's a desk for crafts, a wall of closets that extends from the pantry, and room for a sofa and television so that Kate can keep an eye on homework while she's in the kitchen.
On the other side of the kitchen, a sunroom houses dining and a second living room. The older two children's bedrooms are upstairs.
The back deck was extended and covered to make a year-round eating and play space (complete with cunning nook for scooters and bike helmets, four in a row).
The lawn and paths are fresh green and white, while the studio has been a perfect flat, first for friends, now for an au pair.
It's got a kitchenette, light bathroom and a tiny deck opening with french doors. There's room out the landscaped back for a trampoline and storage sheds.
But with the family heading towards their next stage, it's time for them to move to a bigger, teenage house. Kate's loved that she can walk to the village, around the corner to school, playgrounds and parks, but is leaving behind a beautifully restored villa for the next family.
10 PORONUI ST, MT EDEN
• 4+1 bedrooms, 2+1 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• House 193sq m, land 592sq m.
• Auction: March 20.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun, noon to 12.30pm.
• Schools: Mount Eden Primary, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls'.
• Contact: Ketiesha Elliott, Barfoot & Thompson, 021 739 686.