In these days of swish renovations and cutting-edge homes, it's a delight to happen upon a genuine piece of history, maintained by passionate owners who have lived in the property for much of its life.

It was 1989 when New Zealand menswear fashion legend Linz Ariell – founder of the Marvel label — and his friend and business collaborator Samantha Gray began trying to get on to the property ladder.

Fortunately, as it turned out, neither had the funds they needed for a deposit on their own place, so they decided to join forces.

This resulted in the joint purchase of a large villa, split into four flats, in a quiet, no-exit Mt Eden street. Most of it was shabby in almost original condition, and it had long been known as a bohemian hub, or party house.

"My father remembered coming to a party here in the 1970s, and having to jump out the window to escape when the bikies arrived," says Samantha.

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16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Shortly after moving in she met her partner Chris Sainsbury, who happened to be a builder. He joined the team and attended to everything from the ground up, including the piles, the roof, and woodwork in general. He also had all the wiring and plumbing replaced.

"It was a great day when we finally got running hot water back on," says Chris.

They always kept to their plan to preserve the essence of the property, with renovations in keeping with its era. None of them favoured a modern makeover.

"But of course somebody new could do that, if they wanted to," says Linz.

Nowadays there are two homes within the home. Samantha and Chris live upstairs, while Linz is in the ground-floor flat.

16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

"We see it as two separate dwellings, but one big, happy household," says Samantha.

Over the years the three, along with Samantha and Chris' sons, have moved all around the property, according to where work was taking place at the time.

The north-facing kitchen and dining room, at the front of the house, is bright and warm, with a working fireplace and a big table that has been the scene of many get-togethers with friends and family members throughout the years.

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Samantha, Chris and Linz like to gather there for a drink at end of the day when Linz gets home from his job, lecturing in fashion at Whitecliffe School of Art and Design, and Samantha returns from the hospice shop in Takapuna, which she manages.

Behind the kitchen, off the typically wide villa hallway, is the formal lounge in dramatic shades of purple and black with a stunning feature fireplace, and access to the wraparound veranda.

16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst
16 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden, Auckland. Photo / Ted Baghurst

There are also four bedrooms and a study, each with its own distinctive personality, and two bathrooms with original baths and fittings.

Down at Linz's are two big bedrooms, lounge and dining room, and a cute little kitchen, plus a bathroom.

Outside, the garden is effectively three rooms. At the front it's very eclectic, with big bold plants, and lots of bird life, then there's the vegetable garden to the side and, finally, outside Linz's flat, a mini subtropical paradise.

After all these years and so many fun times, the friends have decided to try new ways of living. Samantha and Chris, who recently became grandparents, are thinking of relocating to North Shore nearer to her workplace, while Linz has an open mind.

"For a start, I want to spend more time in Bali," he says.

16 PENTLAND AVE, MT EDEN
• 6 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 1 parking spaces.
• Land: cross-lease, House: 273sq m.
• Auction: Wed 27 Feb.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun 3-3.30pm or by appointment.
• Schools: Mt Eden Normal, ANI, AGS, EGGS, MAGS.
• Contact: Ketiesha Elliott, Barfoot & Thompson, 021 739 686, or Frank Excell 021 392 355.