It started life as a worker's cottage but ask owner Kelly McEwan if that description stills stands for his Freemans Bay home and he laughs and replies: "More like a worker's cottage on steroids".

For Kelly and his wife Fran Lynch, who both work in the design industry, this was a chance to create their dream home.

They have left the street frontage at 20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland, true to its heritage, but inside the house a stunning transformation and expansion has taken place.

The modernisation over four years has grown the cottage to three levels, with the central waxed slatted steel and solid oak staircase connecting all levels while a skylight above allows natural light to flood in. A 9m-high butterflied Nero Marquina wall by this stairway is stunning when lit.

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"Most people wouldn't be able to afford to put this level of detail into a home, but we could because we are in the industry. We have a lot of living areas here, and a lot of options," says Kelly.

20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Some materials from the original part of the home have been recycled, such as the kauri sarking used for kitchen and living walls. Others are new, like the shiplap custom profile created by the owners to give the bedroom and hallway walls their durable linear pattern.

Elegant bathrooms use marble in white and black, and flooring elsewhere is carpet or solid white American oak. There is subtle LED lighting in the negative detailing as well as ceiling lights.

The lower level of the home, one down from the street entrance, is given over to family living and entertaining, with the 18m width of this north-facing garden allowing Kelly and Fran to put in a salt water heated pool with loggia, barbecue, and palms standing sentry-like on the boundary.

20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Family life bounces between indoors and outdoors, from the chef's kitchen with handsome oak cabinetry and working scullery, the dining area defined by its recessed ceiling coffer, the intimate media room or to the large living space opening to the courtyard and pool.

Kelly says this outdoors area is exceptional for a Ponsonby fringe site, and achievable as the section fans from its narrower frontage to the wide space at the back. "You can progress from the kitchen to the dining and pool outdoors."

20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

He says the pool is heated from October through to mid-April, at temperatures between 27 and 30C. "It costs about $180 a month to heat."

The next level up has bedrooms and bathroom, including the master bedroom with its en suite and wide balcony. And the top level has the children's bedrooms.

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Many of this home's rooms have a flexible nature allowing their uses to be adapted from office to bedroom to children's lounge as the family of five's needs change.

And as you climb each level, views over the neighbouring areas become more expansive, as far as the Sky Tower, Rangitoto and the harbour.

20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
20 Gunson St, Freemans Bay, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Kelly says the central location of this home means their cars have low mileages as they tend to walk to Ponsonby Rd — "Prego, SPQR, the usual suspects" — if they're going out.

They are moving because they have bought another property, ready to work their design magic which means 20 Gunson St is for sale by negotiation.

Martin Dobson, from Kellands, says people with an appreciation for quality and design will relish the opportunity to have this exceptional home as their own.

"Just a few minutes' walk to Ponsonby Rd and a short commute to the CBD, it's all so close when you live here."

20 GUNSON ST, FREEMANS BAY
• 5 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1 parking spaces.
• Sales Method: By negotiation.
• Contact: Martin Dobson, Kellands, 021 376 952; Caroline Daniel, 021 922 223.