Standing proudly on a corner site this circa 1888 villa has been finessed into having chocolate box appeal — and like the best chocolate boxes it's got more depth than you see at first glance.

Ray White Ponsonby agent Cristina Casares says: "When you come into the property it's got a sort of fairy-tale appeal with all the roses out the front introducing home's character.

"But you definitely can't judge a book by its cover because from the front it seems like it could be quite a small house but you discover it's so much bigger than most people expect. "It's a home that keeps unfolding."

The owners of 26 Richmond Rd bought here 25 years ago. The home they purchased here, just two blocks down Richmond Rd from Ponsonby Central on the corner with Sussex St had original villa charm.

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One of its owners says: "I understand it was one of the first houses build as part of the Grey Lynn subdivision, which was originally called the Surrey Hills subdivision."

26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

But it was modestly sized then and came split into two flats. A builders' markings indicate that split happened in 1941, when accommodation was scarce because of the war.

Somebody said a brother living in one half never spoke to his sister living in the other, despite them sharing a kitchen and bathroom because a second kitchen and bathroom existed but were never plumbed in. Whether this local lore is factual can't be verified but it befits the home's 131-year-old history to have a tale or two attached.

Unusually generous parking for this area feeds off Sussex St where two-car off-street parking fronts an internal-access carpeted double garage. This means the front can be devoted to yesteryear charm. A picket fence and gate open to a striking promenade of standard iceberg roses flanking the brick entry path with yellow blooms lining the front veranda.

The owner says: "So often when we describe to people where we live they say 'oh, you mean the house with the roses.'"

26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Both the grounds and villa were very much in need of attention when purchased and the owners meticulously reinstated it as one home before doing a big rear extension in keeping with its character.

One of the owners says: "It was in need of a lot of work. One of our girls had her 21st here before we moved in as we felt there wasn't much damage that could be done."

The owners preferred to tastefully polish and continue the home's character unlike overhauls which result in ultra-modern interiors within a character facade.

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The corner position allows light to flood in the big front lounge and separate dining room, both with effective coal-fuelled fireplaces with cast-iron registers.

Character features found in these rooms such as the high stud, polished kauri floors and sash windows also display in the two bedrooms on the other side of the central hallway.

26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
26 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Behind these are a smart family bathroom with a restored claw-foot bath and English tapware chosen for its classicism.

Architect Graeme Smith masterminded the rear extension which revolves around a kitchen-family dining-family lounge. Fare prepared in the extensive colonial-style kitchen with Rangemaster cooker can also be served on the west-facing deck out through French doors.

The westerly master bedroom comes with a whole wall of wardrobing and an ensuite. A big rear bedroom above the garage could suit a work-from-home set-up or a teenagers' zone.

There's storage aplenty in the rear extension where you'll also find a utility-storage room and a sizeable basement workshop some potential buyers have seen wine cellar potential in.

26 RICHMOND RD, GREY LYNN
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• Price: $2,875,000.
• Contact: Cristina Casares, Ray White , 021 333 615; Carla Pedersen 021 417 139