The Barnards have been delighted with their villa's location, which, thanks to it being tucked away down the no-exit tip of Cromwell St, sidesteps the many busy local delights.

Says Wendy Barnard: "Sometimes I pop up the road and think 'Oh, what's on today?' because there's extra traffic but everything is still so quiet down our cul-de-sac."

Husband Kevin says: "I think it's a bit of a hidden gem; no-one really seems to know you're down this no-exit end.

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"I've got season tickets to the rugby at Eden Park, which I walk to from here, but we don't get piles of people parking before games like other streets close by do."

The couple moved here with their three sons 12 years ago, finding it quieter than their previous Epsom property.

Wendy says: "It's the sort of place where you get kids playing cricket in the street. And yet we're five minutes' walk to cafes and the supermarket and really handy to the Balmoral's Capitol Cinema, Mt Eden and Kingsland."

Wendy, Fairfax Media's custom publishing manager, doesn't like to make a big deal about it but she's got skills to recognise what'll make a great home — a diploma in interior design and experience working for an architectural practice.

"I think that's made me clearer about what I do and don't like," she says. "Both Kevin and I knew we loved this place as soon as we saw it."

Kevin, who's in building supplies, was impressed by the century-old villa's high-stud hallway that tops 3m.

Wendy liked the hallway opening up to a choice of living areas swamped in light and flowing out to gorgeous functional grounds.

Kevin says: "The backyard faces due west, so it's beautifully sunny. The liquid amber tree provides some summer shade and loses its leaves to let winter sun flood in."

Wendy door-knocked neighbours asking which grey they'd painted their exterior, using it half-strength to update the once light olive exterior.

Interior colour choices complement the many leadlights, with a striking Resene bastille feature wall flattering a purple leadlight in the master bedroom.

The couple added wardrobes to several rooms, including the master bedroom, which has an en suite and french doors out to the front porch.

The wardrobe in the bedroom with bay window is cleverly designed to look more like cabinetry, should future owners want this room as an office.

Two further bedrooms and a family bathroom complete the layout. There's also a hallway cupboard with a ladder up to under-roof storage.

The kitchen-living-dining embraces the rear courtyard and grounds and presents nicely defined spaces.

Notable features are its polished wood floors, open character fireplace supplementing house-wide gas central heating, ceiling speakers and a refreshed kitchen including stone bench-tops and a wide oven. A separate laundry neighbours the kitchen. Wendy describes a rear second living area with picture windows and french doors as "the summer room".

The generous private rear grounds have hosted many functions, from birthdays to an outdoor cinema showing Rugby World Cup games.

The fenced grounds include level lawn, a garden shed, subtropical planting and fruit trees.

A single garage with under-roof storage accompanies off-street parking.

The couple's sons 'boomeranged' back and forth from this home for several years. But now they've gone the Barnards plan to find somewhere smaller.

53 CROMWELL ST, MT EDEN
• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 1* parking spaces.
• Land 688sq m, house 175sq m.
• Auction: 6pm Wed Nov 21 (unless sold prior).
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 1.30-2pm.
• Schools: Mt Eden Normal School, Kowhai Intermediate, Balmoral School, Mt Albert Grammar.
• Contact: Mike Robson, 021 484 288, Harcourts, harcourts.co.nz/MTE3554
*3 OSP