16 November 2017

Head Turner

Built back in 1910, this single-storey villa, located in a prime location, has gone through a complete and meticulous renovation by its homeowners – one of whom is a professional builder.


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After seeing many owners come and go, each with their own definition of ‘modernisation’, this beautiful villa has finally had the makeover it deserves, turning what was once a plain Jane house into a wonderful, character-filled, two-storey family home.

 The story of the past five years of this home’s life is one of complete renovation, done properly, with care and attention, says the outgoing owner. “Everything that’s been done here has been done right,” she says. “My husband is a builder and he’s old school, so he likes to do things with quality and care.”

Number 12 Leighton Street, as it stands today, is unrecognisable from the ugly duckling it was before the current owners moved in. From the outside, it sat low in the street, was very plain and had no veranda or bay front. The inside had been ‘sixtified’, as the owner calls it, meaning all the ceilings had been lowered and any vestige of character summarily removed. And the garden? There wasn’t one to speak of. 

“We decided to give the girl her biggest makeover yet,” she recalls.

“So we picked up the house and moved it right to the back of the section, so that we could begin work on building a basement level, starting with a solid concrete foundation.”

Parking is clearly an issue in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, and it’s not one that’s going to improve any time soon. With this in mind the couple purposefully incorporated a large ‘shotgun’ double garage, with internal access down one entire side of the new level. It’s even fully carpeted, meaning you could be used for other purposes, like a games room. The rest of the space is taken up by an almost equally sized ‘area’, plus a separate laundry, bathroom and storage cupboards. This space has access to it’s own large covered deck and a secluded seating area.

The creation of this new downstairs area has opened up a number of possibilities, as far as usage is concerned – all of which are now available for the new owners.

Upstairs, the original 3.2m studs have been faithfully restored, complete with battened ceilings and ceiling roses, as have the original Kauri floorboards in the wide entrance hallway. All the walls, floors and ceilings have been insulated, and there are brand new carpets in all four of the bedrooms – one of which has been converted into a luxurious master, with large walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. 

“When we first moved in it was the coldest house we’d ever lived in, even coming from Scotland. Now it’s the cosiest ever,” says the homeowner.

At the rear, where the old lean-to would have been, is now a large, open-plan living and kitchen extension that has direct access, via large glass sliding doors, to a huge covered deck that virtually doubles the size of the available living space for most months of the year.

Cleverly designed to achieve maximum privacy, this 36sqm deck enjoys great views over the garden and the trees of the surrounding properties. Looking out over the now beautifully designed and manicured garden, it’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, it was almost barren and so steep, it was only fit for rolling eggs at Easter, according to the owner.

“It’s a lovely garden, now,” she says. “When we first came here, there was nothing, not one plant, and now look at it.”

 Fully fenced and professionally landscaped, the garden is surrounded by raised beds overflowing with fragrant Jasmine and rosemary. The central lawn is well drained and big enough to play footy on with the kids, plus there’s a pergola at the far end, perfect for catching the sun’s rays over a refreshing G and T.

Over and above the features and attributes of this perfectly executed villa renovation, its location is a huge selling point. Everything’s so handy, being just a 3-4-minute walk to Ponsonby Central and Grey Lynn Park, plus it’s zoned for the best schools in the area.

 “The one thing I really love about living around here is that the neighbours are so friendly and it’s very multicultural,” says the homeowner.

“We’re all from different walks of life and we all get on well – it’s like a wee melting pot, really.”

Looking back on the whole process, the homeowner says that a villa renovation is not for the faint hearted. “You can understand why people don’t want to take on [renovation] projects these days, because it’s very expensive and it takes too long. It’s also all the hidden stuff and the unknowns that add up.”

 She says it’s been a five-year project for her and her husband, and it will be sad to leave, but now that their son has left home, it’s just too big for two people. “With only the two of us living here and my husband will be retiring soon, we don’t need all four of the bedrooms and all the other rooms downstairs, so we’re downsizing to a smaller home.”

Luckily for the new owners of this house, all the hard work’s been done.

Click here to view the listing.

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