Sweeping up the grand circular staircase to its chandeliers for the first time, Sophie Bullock felt as though she had walked into a boutique hotel.

"There was just nothing else like it, nothing that we'd seen that had that same feeling," she says of the time she and her husband Kane had spent house hunting five years ago.

"When we started looking I'd mentally picture myself living in a place, and when we came here I thought 'this is meant to be.'

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"I remember seeing the shutters and thinking 'wow, this place is where we should be living.'"

Heritage architectural features and a modern, industrial-style fit-out told the newlyweds that this pad, in The Carlisle building, had integrity.

More than a century ago, in 1912, this concrete building that fronts Emily Place on two sides was built as warehousing and auction rooms for commodities such as kauri gum and wool.

In 1995, Krukziener Properties converted its commercial spaces into 20 residential apartments, a first for Auckland city.

Heritage features retained include the high stud, timber ceiling beams, and the native floors, characterful elements in Sophie and Kane's apartment.

The kauri pillar and beams and the golden, narrow plank timber floors add definition to the apartment's open plan dining/living area and its industrial, stainless steel kitchen with upper white perimeter cupboards.

Of her kitchen, Sophie says: "I love the fact that it looks modern without being expensive to maintain."

The living area and adjacent bedroom each have an elegant Juliet balcony. "It has a Tuscan feel to it," says Sophie, throwing open double doors to the wrought iron balustrade and scent of potted lavender framed by climbing jasmine and purple pansies.

Sophie and Kane lived here for 12 months before going on their OE to Europe and South America.

Returning to NZ in May 2017, they quickly realised how much they'd missed the apartment and its proximity to the central city.

They decided to refresh it, with new paint, new light fittings and the restoration of the marble in the bathroom. "We did it all ourselves, it was a real labour of love," says Sophie, who is the head of the body corp here.

They also updated the shutters on the windows, replacing the dark timber originals with adjustable louvres complete with replica arch.

At night, it's the city lights that energise them. By day it's a two-minute walk to Sophie's corporate role in business development and marketing, and a similarly easy route to Kane's job as an electrical project manager.

They love their proximity to the city's weekend activities and their elevated status on the high side of Emily Place. "We feel as if we are in the middle of the city without being smothered by it," she says.

Sophie and Kane are looking to stay in the city as they search for their second home.

"First homes have lots of memories and we can't help but have an emotional attachment here," she says.

2H/7 EMILY PLACE, AUCKLAND CITY
• 1 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 0 parking spaces.
• Apartment 52sq m.
• Price: Above $550,000.
• Body corp: $4921.88 a year.
• Auction: Sept 27.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 11.30am-noon.
• Contact: Damian Piggin, Ray White,
021 828 583, OneRoof.co.nz/1189239