Three years ago Caroline Taku stood up in the rear of their villa and announced: "We need to grow up now, get rid of our flatmates and own the whole house."
She wasn't tired of the tenants at the front, just ready for her four children to have the run of an entire house after years of constraints in a tiny rear flat.
Robert and Caroline Taku moved here with their two children 10 years ago from the home they had renovated in Otahuhu.
They were happy to accommodate the vagaries of a century-old villa that a previous owner had converted from four flats to two.
The specimen villa was a dream find — ripe for renovation and just a few doors along from the local school.
Piling all four of them into the back of this house took some jostling, but by the time Robert had removed a wall to create a kitchen/dining area, everyone was happy.
Except in winter. "The heater was in the kids' room, so we'd all run in there, get dressed and then come out," says Caroline.
Since then, they've had two more children. Life with four, aged from 13 to 4, in this revitalised home and garden is sunny and sociable.
The house has been reworked for easy living and entertaining and combines architectural heritage with functionality and private outdoor living.
From the new front door beneath original leadlight windows to the central hallway flanked by bedrooms, the front of the house is the essence of villa style.
The original 3.6m-high stud that was hidden for decades above lowered ceilings has been restored.
New board and batten ceilings, cornices, architraves and a central archway replace those that were irreparably damaged when the villa style had fallen from favour.
Off the main hallway, Caroline and Robert created a small hallway to the new laundry and a side door to the garden.
At the back, the lean-to was demolished and new open-plan kitchen/living and dining integrated into outdoor living with a brick pizza oven and spa pool.
The lower 2.8m stud height here adds intimacy to the main TV lounge and dining area that steps down from the kitchen and media room.
Caroline has good reason for loving her kitchen as an effortless perch from which to supervise the children.
"I can stand here and get dinner and see what the kids are watching on TV in the media room and down in the other lounge, because I can see the TV there reflected in the glass doors. This is like the command post for the Starship Enterprise."
One of their favourite vantage points is on the wide polished concrete step down to the lounge. Robert, a landscape contractor, prefabicated the step and got several mates to help him install it.
He also built their dining table from the old floor joists in the lean-to, and had some fitted as timber shelves in the children's bathroom.
Robert's first hands-on job came long before the 2015/2016 renovation, when he pulled out perimeter hedges and planted beds of palms, subtropical shrubbery and citrus accents.
"The kids ate so many mandarins I figured I might as well plant some," he says.
This family lived on site during this renovation, and unlike other families who swear off a repeat of such disruption, they are keen for another project.
29 BRIXTON RD, BALMORAL
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 0* parking spaces.
• Land 749sq m, house 225sq m.
• Price: CV $2,150,000.
• Auction: Sept 26.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 12-12.30pm.
• Schools: Balmoral Primary, Balmoral Intermediate, Mt Albert Grammar, Auckland Girls' Grammar.
• Contact: Hayley Kirk-Smith, 021 929 569; and Roberta Stewart, 022 100 3113. Unlimited Potential, oneroof.co.nz/1188888
*Plenty of OSP