A Whanganui woman, who has restored a heritage building in the city to its former glory and then some, says it has been a labour of love.
Kerry Girdwood bought the Kitchen's Pharmacy building two years ago for about $300,000 and has since spent about $800,000 earthquake strengthening and refurbishing it.
Albert E. Kitchen had owned a pharmacy at No 15 Victoria Avenue since the 1870s when he had the current building erected in 1909. A chemist operated there until the 1980s.
Rather misleadingly, the inscription on the facade reads 1858 which refers to when Mr Kitchen first set up business in the city.
Described in the Whanganui heritage inventory as a fine example of Edwardian Baroque, in more recent times the upstairs had been a student flat.
Kerry Girdwood said she had not been looking for a building to renovate.
"I'd been looking to do something like this, live in a downtown apartment for some years. I didn't buy it because it was a heritage building. I bought it because I could see myself living here.
"But the heritage aspect has become increasingly important and people sometimes think I'm rather daft because I say in the end the building itself made a lot of the decisions about the refurbishment."
At the top of the curvaceous five-metre oak and rimu stairway it opens up to a three-bedroom apartment complete with surprisingly spacious living quarters.
"It was two rooms but the wall between them having come out it's created this lovely light room which is living room, sitting room, dining room.
"It has the high ceilings of the Victorian era with pressed metal ceilings which Nicolas Meuli, who was the builder, used a lot in his buildings.
"Those dimensions give it a generosity in its proportions I think."
Girdwood said the living room's cast iron radiators were an illustration of the building suggesting what was required for the renovation.
"The radiators are a very good example of the sort of extra expense because of the style of the building to which I wanted to remain faithful.
"You'd swear they'd been here a 100 years and the valves have taken quite a bit of time to get here from Italy."
Girdwood, who had a successful teaching career in Japan, has also incorporated indoor-outdoor flow by building a balcony over the existing awning.
"It gets all the sun, lovely sun and if you look over your right shoulder you can see right down to the river.
"This is a great place to watch the passing parade with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine later in the day."
Back inside, it's a short walk across the hallway's polished mātai floorboards to a bedroom where those students have left a surprise.
"When the building was built it was stand alone and now there's one special [sash] window that opens up straight onto a brick wall from the next door building.
"And the various students who've lived here have all left their names and various messages in chalk on the wall."
The renovation has not all been about heritage, however.
Aged 74, Kerry Girdwood, who is well known in Whanganui theatre circles, has also looked to future-proof her new home and installed a lift.
"I don't need the lift now but when I'm 150 I might and I have friends who would. And all of this upstairs is geared for wheelchair use and there's room for a live-in companion."
Girdwood said her family had given her their blessing to do the refurbishment and the two retail spaces on the ground floor should pay for her extravagance over time.