It's true that real estate agents are paid to be enthusiastic about the properties they are selling for their clients - they wouldn't be long in business if they couldn't. But long-time agent Roy Champtaloup is genuinely fizzing about the beautifully renovated bungalow he is selling for Ingrid and Tom Jeffries.
"It would have to be one of the best offerings all year for those with a growing family; a Parnell property that ticks all the boxes," he enthuses. He acknowledges it is the sort of house he would live in himself, and when you talk to owner Ingrid, you sense she'd happily stay there, too. But with two teens and two more about-to-be teen kids, the family needs something larger so their kids and friends can spread out just that bit more as they all get bigger.
When Ingrid and Tom bought the house, 15 years ago, it was a very different proposition. The pretty pebble-dash house had only two bedrooms and the usual small back of the house, no deck but a flight of stairs to a promising but dark basement.
The couple were lucky enough to buy it off friends, who had already begun renovations, so knew its good points: a terrific north-facing backyard with views to Hobson Bay, gracious proportions from the square entry to the appealing living room and a bedroom and bathroom already sorted.
"We didn't really want to leave Ponsonby," admits Ingrid. "But we wanted to stay central and we knew what we could do with it. We liked what the architect had done with two other houses in the street. We had the original windows and plaster trims and the study in a wing off one end of the living room."
Leo van Veenendaal is known for his sensitive response to old houses, not surprising when a lot of his projects are in Herne Bay, St Marys Bay and Parnell. Working with the couple, he staged the renovation in three projects over some 12 years: the main family room, kitchen, the garage and pool landscaping then, most recently, reconfiguring the bathroom into a master en suite and a guest bathroom.
The work is sensitively done to match the bungalow's existing proportions. He opened out the cramped back of the house, pushing out a kitchen/family room wing to mirror the original study and creating a large, welcoming deck off all the living rooms.
A generous sweep of external stairs connects the deck with the lower back garden and the well-used swimming pool. Inside, the dining room and original living rooms are comfortably connected to the informal kitchen/family room, but leave plenty of wall space for the family's art collection (Ingrid used to work in the art world).
But it is the kitchen that is clearly the hub of this busy family's life. Van Veenendaal used dark-stained American oak for cabinetry, with a generous L-shaped island bench to cope with family-size cooking.
The family room is sun-filled all day, with room for good storage and the TV. Bifolds open all the living rooms and study to the deck, creating one huge breezy space for the family (and soaking the rooms in sun all day at this time of the year). Window joinery matches the old house and the pebble dash mimics the original so that the addition sits comfortably with the original house.
On this main level is the master bedroom, complete with the luxuriously finished en suite. Double basins, smart tiles and plenty of light make this a lovely adult retreat. A second double room completes this floor.
Downstairs is the kids' zone. The original basement is given over to a family bathroom, storage and laundry. The new part fulfils the potential Ingrid and Tom saw all those years ago, with three good double bedrooms opening off a rumpus room, which opens to the terrace and pool. The section is large by city standards, but made roomier by the clever landscaping front and back: structured terracing, pavers and architectural planting make the added double garage relate to the old house, tucked low to still show off the attractive entry porch to the street, highlighted by a stone fence. Formal paving gives way to a lawn that has housed a playhouse, climbing frame and trampoline.
It would be hard to leave this house of easy family living that has been created so lovingly.