A mum of six is living her childhood dream after persuading her husband to build a replica of the Dargaville mansion she fell in love with about age 10.

Kelly Davison was "mesmerised" when she first saw the villa while visiting the town to buy lollies with her Nana during a stay at her grandparents' farm near Matakohe one school holidays.

"It stuck in my memory," she said.

Decades later, in early 2016, Davison and her husband Joe were searching the Internet for inspiration for the house they planned to build on a section they'd bought in Helensville, north of Auckland, when she spotted it again.


"I told Joe 'that's the one I want, that's the one from when I was a child'."

The story of how the couple made the dream a reality will feature in the first episode of the new season of Grand Designs New Zealand this week.

Davison's husband Joe told the Herald on Sunday he had other ideas of what to build on the site but his wife was adamant on what she wanted.

"I saw it and thought 'that could look quite cool'. The way we work is she gets these ideas and I kind of do the practical stuff."

They contacted the owner of the Dargaville house to arrange a time to have a look around and take some photos.

While walking through it, Davison said, it felt like "home", despite never having been there before.

"It's hard to explain. It feels like I've lived there but I haven't."

The house, overlooking the Kaipara Harbour, was built by hand in 1914. Its current owner bought it about 30 years ago from the daughters of the man who built it.

Using the photos they'd taken the Davisons drew up plans for their home which was almost identical to the Dargaville villa.

"It's exactly the same," Davison said of her Helensville property.

"It's slightly smaller. The kitchen and dining room's the same. We just took the wall out in between to make them one space."

It took less than six months to build the 270sqm weatherboard home with 70sqm wraparound veranda and the couple, along with their children - Joshua, Emma, Ben, Sarah, Jessica and Jamie - moved in on Christmas Day last year.

The main house has all the space they need on a single level: five bedrooms - master with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite - two lounges, bathroom, study, laundry, kitchen and dining room.

It sits up on a knoll on a 3.5-acre section, on the opposite side of the Kaipara to the Dargaville house.

The grounds are "park-like" - there's a pool and at the bottom of the property is a four bedroom guest house and flat area that the kids use as a campground.

"I think that we certainly accomplished what we set out to do. The main aim was to make sure it looked like it had been here 100 years and I do think that we've accomplished that as well," she said.

"It's perfectly suited to its site because it's like a villa from the front and the kitchen, dining room on the inside is totally different to what you'd normally have in a villa. It's like a hall almost," Joe Davison added.

Inside the Helensville property while it was being built. Photo / Supplied by Three
Inside the Helensville property while it was being built. Photo / Supplied by Three

The family spent a lot of time together in the kitchen and dining area and enjoyed watching TV together in the big lounge, but could also spread out when they needed to.

"The kids play heaps of board games and stuff together. Because it's been such a yucky winter we've had all the fires going - the coal range - some of the kids like baking and cooking," Davison told the Herald on Sunday.

The third season of Grand Designs New Zealand premieres on Three on Tuesday September 19 at 7.30pm. The Davisons' home is featured in the first episode.