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NZ Polished as a Tahitian pearl

Property Here - Saturday, May 18, 2013

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A story lies behind every piece of renovation work carried out on this character-filled 1920s house. From finding beautiful recycled rimu floors on Trade Me through to being chased by a dog in a demolition yard while seeking out the perfect door handle, owner Dilanth can remember every single bit of inspiration and effort - not to mention every dollar - that went into transforming his home.

"This was a project done with a lot of passion and love," he says.

He and his family bought the house in 2006, attracted by the prestigious address in one of Auckland's best streets, and the proximity to Victoria Avenue School. Back then, it bore no resemblance to the welcoming family home they have today. The top floor had been used for a business and the bottom one provided accommodation for the owners.

"It was in a pretty sad state," recalls Dilanth.

He has carried out the renovations gradually, and much of it involved things that cannot be seen, such as insulating and repiling. Structurally, the exterior is pretty much the same as it was - apart from the addition of extra windows in the kitchen.

But inside it is a completely different dwelling. Walls have been removed and reconfigured, a sleek new kitchen installed and bathrooms updated - but all the period charm of the house has been retained along the way.

Carpets were pulled up - Dilanth grimaces at the memory of pulling out hundreds of staples - and the lovely rimu floors polished. It has been redecorated throughout and even door knobs were removed and sent off to be silver-plated.

"It was very important to do everything properly," says Dilanth. "I had never done anything like this before but I spent a lot of time on the internet doing research, and everything we got for the house had to be the best quality.

"If you are going to renovate a house in an area like this, you have to do it to the highest possible standard."

One of the major changes he made was replacing a derelict single garage at the front of the property with a spacious double garage. A covered staircase was added from the rear of the garage to the house, providing internal access.

The kitchen was another big undertaking. It was completely replaced, and today is a stylish contemporary room with everything a keen cook would want, including a gas hob, wall-mounted oven and plenty of storage space. The central island was a great idea - not only does it provide space to sit and eat or chat to the cook, but there's even a built-in wine fridge.

French doors from the kitchen lead out to the deck at the rear of the house, which looks down on the garden below and across the valley towards the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Sky Tower. It gets the afternoon and early evening sun, and is a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, says Dilanth.

The master bedroom also opens to the deck. This room has a wall of cupboards and also an en suite bathroom, with striking Tahitian pearl tiles. It can also be reached from the hallway.

Also on this level is the living room, which has a gas fire, and a separate dining room. A bedroom on this floor could be used as an office.

Downstairs another living room is perfect for teenagers or extended family thanks to the kitchenette concealed behind cupboard doors. French doors from this room open out to a paved terraced.

There are also two further bedrooms on the lower level, a bathroom, a laundry and a huge walk-in storage cupboard. A separate entrance means this floor could become self-contained.

Outside, the spacious lawn has a stately old oak tree and a two-storey children's playhouse. There is plenty of room for a pool or even another dwelling.

Dilanth has numerous ideas for further improvements he could make to the property including extending it to create even more space, but he will have to leave those to someone else, as he is selling to free up some of the capital invested in the property.