This house is breathtaking. It’s a virtual collage of perfect features: a converted Federation missionary centre retaining its impeccable heritage features while incorporating edgy contemporary design elements. Plus, it hides a magic garden behind its walls. The house is currently for sale, with offers over $3.2 million sought.
‘Behind its walls’ may make it sound like I’m talking about an ancient city’s bulwarks, but 122 Beattie Street is so huge that upon entering you do feel as though you’ve entered your own fortified town. It’s a whisper-quiet (the main room’s walls are triple-bricked) sanctuary within walking distance to Balmain’s trendy shopping strip (so trendy that I made a mental note to return to the suburb to spend some cash in the future). While the frontage is incredibly impressive – there is no way a photograph can accurately depict the sheer size of the double front doors – it does not hint at the immense proportions of the home inside.
The house was initially built as Sydney City Mission in 1909 (which is still engraved in the facade), and was converted to a home in 1927. Sydney missions provided a Christian refuge for the poor and hungry, and sprouted up in Australia from the nineteenth century onwards. Monique, the property’s real estate agent, emphasised that the building has “a multiplicity of uses. It was used as the Sydney City Mission, for people who needed help. The hall has also been used as a cinema.”
The ‘hall’ is not a hall in the ‘walk through the hallway to the Dr Smith’s office, her door is the second last on the left’ sense. It is a double-height ceilinged town hall-style living area that serves as the central meeting point in the home. As well as containing the main kitchen (yes, there are two kitchens), it is looked down at from a loft space containing a gym and extra bedroom.
The room instantly reminded me of Megan Morton’s explanation of open plan living in her book Home Love. To paraphrase, practical spaces and divisions have to be created by furniture and other means in order for an open plan room to be successful. The hall’s industrial lighting (which hangs down quite low, providing a great juxtaposition to the sky-high ceiling) and on-trend interior design elements provide a modern frame to an otherwise historic room, and make the immense space feel incredibly liveable. Plus, it looks plain good, as the photos below illustrate.
One of the most exciting parts of the house is that it has so many different spaces. It feels almost as though you’re in Alice in Wonderland or a Kafka novel, and have popped into a house that continues on until infinity. The second kitchen, which is located at the house’s rear, would be particularly tempting to use on a summer’s evening – it flows out onto a living area and overlooks the back garden and courtyard.
Speaking of the garden …
With every house I’ve hunted down, I’ve struggled to choose the pictures to include – it’s difficult sacrificing some to make way for others. This has never been more true than with 122 Beattie St (as you can probably tell by the sheer number of images being included in this post).
One of the property’s best features is the contrast between sharp contemporary finishings and charming older elements. I noticed a Belle magazine while I was tip-toeing my way through the home – this didn’t surprise me at all, because the owners have great interior design nouse … and I felt inclined to photograph all of it! The house also contains an extremely friendly – and adorable – kitty, who I felt inclined to pick up and run away with due to her affectionate nature (which reminded me of my own cat, Le Chat).
Aside from having stunning bones, the house has benefited from its owners’ obvious interest in design and art. It is stylistically immaculate, true to its heritage, and is Balmain right down to its core.