This Epsom home was designed in 1936 by architects Gummer and Ford, New Zealand's most prominent architectural practice at the time.

It is now in the hands of lawyer Helen Rice and her husband architect Tim McCoy, whose late father Ted, also an architect, worked for Gummer and Ford.

William Gummer and Reginald Ford joined forces in 1923 and became one of the country's best regarded architectural firms of the first half of the 20th century.

They designed numerous iconic buildings including Auckland's Dilworth Building, the Remuera Library, the old Auckland Railway Station, the Auckland Civic Centre, and the City Art Gallery in Wellington.

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Tim says: "Gummer and Ford didn't design that many houses, and when you do come across them they usually had a slightly different take on the standard English villa or anything else.

"They were often a lot more pared back and cleaner and a lot lighter with a lot more windows."

That was what they observed when buying here with two young children in 2010. But the home was completely shut off from splendid rear grounds.

Tim says: "I saw the yard and said 'Oh, that's just begging to be enhanced.'"

His solution, along with renewing the rest of the home, was a thoroughly modern pavilion-style extension which beautifully opens up the home to its picturesque large rear grounds with swimming pool.

Tim says: "People come through and see that there's this serene pocket, almost like an oasis, out the back."

It's been a well-tended oasis — Helen's parents live in a retirement village but her father Maurice wanted to keep gardening.

Helen says: "It's unbelievable really because my Dad is coming up 93 but he still comes around twice a week and does this garden."

The home is handsome from the street, rising graciously above a front rock wall.

A pergola-topped double carport bolsters a storage garage designed for historic car dimensions.

The front grounds were already beautifully landscaped and incorporated crazy paving when the couple bought here.

Entry reveals polished rimu floors, a character staircase and central heating.

It's a home spacious enough to entertain their children, Carlos (now 22), Maria (20), and extended family. Plus there's a swag of friends.

Helen says: "We've had brilliant parties and lots of dancing in this house."

The lounge with original crystal glass doors and marble-swathed wood-burning fire opens to an idyllic front sunroom with an angled sarked ceiling that Tim designed.

Helen enjoys sinking into its deep built-in day-bed to read with its bifold windows open for the sun.

The open-plan kitchen-dining room has stainless steel and granite benches and Australian Blackbutt timber cabinetry plus a concealed laundry.

There's also a powder room and bedroom on this level but the show-stopper is Tim's modern rear pavilion extension exalting the landscaped rear garden.

Tim says: "It's just serene."

Its dining area steps down to a living area with gas fireplace, all under a sarked tongue-and-groove cedar ceiling with skylights.

Helen says: "There's a bit of a family joke because I love so many rooms here I can spend my weekends moving around from one beautiful space to the next."

The picturesque backyard with mature maple tree proffers decks around a heated, fully tiled swimming pool.

Upstairs are three bedrooms, including the master with dressing room and ensuite plus the main bathroom.

Their thorough renovation unearthed from a wall cavity the original builder's business card and a newspaper of the time, reporting on the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The couple, who are downsizing now their second child is soon to live independently, will leave it for new owners.

7 GILGIT RD, EPSOM
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• House 319sq m, land 845sq m.
• Auction: Thur 11 April (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 3-3.30pm.
• Schools: Newmarket School, Auckland Normal Intermediate, Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls' Grammar.
• Contact: Heather Walton, Ray White, 021 432 167, Richard Thode, 021 336 002.
*2 OSP.