Mention the Tattersfield house to Mt Albert locals and most will know about the grand old house on the crest of the hill off Mt Albert Rd. The Tattersfield family, who had eight children, built the house in the 1880s and remodelled it in 1905.
"We don't know what was original and what was added," says Siobhan Bowden, who bought the house with her husband Mark 30 years ago.
"We have the architect's drawings from the 1905 renovation, so know the house from then. Of course the big estate with the tennis courts and so on was subdivided some time in the 1960s. But a lot of the big trees and gardens are all still here."
The Bowdens have gathered stories of the Tattersfield family and the house from the previous owner, an elderly woman.
The couple, with two toddlers and then a baby in tow, set about restoring the old house.
Its bones were superb, starting at the curved entry porch opening to the wide front hallway.
Classic sash windows are mixed with multi-paned bay windows and french doors of the 1905 update. Old carpets were pulled up to reveal wide plank kauri floors.
There are gracious arches between front and back zones of the hallway. The original doors and joinery were hidden under shabby coats of paint.
The formal living and dining room, separated by a sweep of archway, share a bay window and views across the rooftops and down the tree-lined valley.
Siobhan has used classic William Morris fabrics for the curtains and window seat, and there are classic built-ins around the fireplace, now updated with gas.
For a house that is nearly 140 years old, it has great indoor/outdoor flow — terraces and verandahs sheltered by hedges and a selection of exotic palm trees imported by the Tattersfields from South Africa.
The kitchen opens to a terrace for breakfasts in the summer, the wide verandah overlooking the view is the spot for lunches, while afternoon drinks and barbecues happen off the terrace by the informal sitting room.
The house is arranged with the formal living and dining rooms on one side of the hallway, bathrooms on the other.
The kitchen opens through a swing door from the living room. Towards the back of the house is a classic oak-panelled room, complete with a tiered arts and crafts fireplace with slate tiles and copper trim.
It was originally a pool room, but the Bowdens sanded back the painted oak and restored fittings, opened up the bay windows with french doors to a sunny eating terrace, and added a small dining nook.
It became a TV room for the kids, then a favourite spot for winter dinners, when they pull the table in front of the fireplace.
"We did all the work on the house while the kids were around," says Siobhan. "I think that's taught them the value of hard work, watching us scrape and burn off the old paint and bring the house back to what she should be."
There are four bedrooms on the ground floor, all with gracious proportions. The master bedroom, on the front of the house, has an updated bathroom and there is a surprising amount of storage.
The back bedroom, near the kitchen, was the nursery for the family — handy to servants, warmed by backing on to the coal range. Today that's a guest room.
A fifth bedroom in the attic has been renovated as a guest room for family from overseas, and is complete with en suite loo and skylights.
The bathroom has a gorgeous arched window rescued from the Auckland Star building — a lucky rescue as the building burned down the next day.
Siobhan says that, much as she loves the formal rooms, it is the old-fashioned kitchen that was the heart of family life.
It was updated 15 years ago, and she selected panelled cupboards, a tiled chimney breast around the cooker, a freestanding armoire and a big farm house table so that it has the air of a kitchen from a hundred years ago. It's where everybody hangs out, and where the kids all learned to be keen cooks.
A double garage is lined and was a studio for son Liam when he set up his Deadly Ponies handbag brand. The hallway was a stage that helped kick off son Dominic's love of performing. But the house is big, the children only visitors now, so it's time for Mark and Siobhan to relinquish the house they brought back to life 30 years ago to the next family.
34 ALLENDALE RD, MT ALBERT
• 5 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• House: 260sq m, land 1328sq m.
• Auction: On Site 29 May at 2pm (unless sold prior)
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1-1.45pm (or by appointment).
• Schools: MAGS, Gladstone.
• Contact: Rachel Berry, Ray White, 021 295 4321, John Covich, 021 946 933.