It's a long way from Cornwall in the UK to Devonport, but when Mike and Marina Couldry arrived in the suburb nine years ago, they spotted a flat-fronted Georgian house in Mays St and knew they'd found their next home.
"We'd been in Queenstown for five years, but more and more we missed the beaches," says Marina.
"In Cornwall, we'd had a Georgian house made from granite, not wood. It was derelict when we bought it, we spent 15 years doing it up. So when we spotted this we were quite confident that we could turn it around."
The house was beautifully sound, with a new kitchen and well appointed bathrooms, so Mike and Marina could focus on decorating, gardening and styling the house.
The high ceilings, original architraves, doors and fireplaces were all still there, so the couple set to with paint and wallpaper to bring the house to life.
Marina has a fine arts degree and works in both ceramics and print making, so she was not afraid to bring in pattern and colour.
Many of the main rooms have modern interpretations of Victorian or Arts & Crafts wallpaper — all from the UK — with complementary patterned curtains. Many have a bird or nature theme, a nod to their love of nature.
The house is arranged in the traditional way: a central hallway and stairwell, with formal sitting rooms opening off either side of the front door.
In some rooms, the huge Georgian sash windows nearly reach the floor, framing views of greenery and landscaped gardens, while other rooms have slim french doors.
The formal living room gives into a family dining room with a modern Italian kitchen opening off it.
Marina kept the lacquer and timber cabinets, but updated the benchtop and added a vintage island and hanging pot rack.
The dining room walls are the original wide-plank tongue and groove. Old-school plate racks mix with more modern light fixtures.
The couple renovated the old laundry, pushing out walls to create a full shower and loo downstairs, and their master en suite above.
A second sitting room with fireplace — the family's favourite room for morning sun — faces the back garden and terrace. Marina says that the arrangement of rooms and doors mean that even when there is a crowd scattered around the ground floor, they all feel connected.
She and Mike restored the verandahs front and back, so that the master bedroom and the main guest room, with a wee sewing nook off it, open to views of the garden.
The family bathroom has vintage fixtures, painted floors, more tongue-and-groove walls, while the master suite is modern marble, with an efficient use of space.
Mike has indulged his love of gardening with fruit trees and raised vegetables beds in the backyard, while Marina has her art studio in a shed reached by stepping stones.
In the front yard, behind new walls and gate they've gone for a touch of France, with white gravel and formal planting, plenty of space for outdoor dining.
Everywhere there are glimpses of green, light falling through windows.
"I have an art background, so I'm able to think about light and space and flow," says Marina.
The couple have loved living so close to Devonport, treating Mt Victoria as their personal gym, but are now eyeing up another project in the suburb.
12 MAYS ST, DEVONPORT
• 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 1* parking spaces.
• House 318sq m, land 637sq m.
• Auction: April 4, 1.30pm.
• Inspect: Phone for viewing times.
• Schools: Devonport primary, Belmont Intermediate, Takapuna Grammar.
• Contact: Victoria Bidwell, Bayleys, 021 947 080.