A blog that explores Australian houses. If you love architecture, design, interiors and interesting buildings of all types, The House Hunter is for you.

Rose Seidler House, 71 Clissold Road, Wahroonga

 

If you were paying attention to real estate articles like this one, you would be of the impression that Wahroonga is suffering from a major downturn in fortune. Its median house price has fallen below the $1 million mark (although not far below), and the 22 kilometres between it and the CBD has become an unfashionable commute. The impression given is that the blue chip suburb, which sits at the northernmost point of the prim and proper upper north shore region, is declining in favour compared to its more centrally located equivalents on the lower north shore.

 

 

This perception of Wahroonga befuddles of me. When you walk through its leafy streets – particularly those within its prestigious south-eastern boundary (east of the Pacific Highway and south of the F3), you can see why the suburb has commanded such reverence in the past – the estates are large, the streetscapes are pretty, and the facilities are strong. The homes are old and proud – grand federations rivalled only by those on the southern side of Mosman line many of the suburb’s streets. It boasts a nice little village and, crucially, has a train station. Its major detraction – lack of night life – isn’t much of a concern given its primary market is families. If anything, the relatively low median house price is an attraction – similarly, the darling of the lower north shore, Neutral Bay, has a median price hovering around $1 million, so there are some deals to be had north of the bridge currently.

 

 

 

One of Wahroonga’s most interesting aspects is, perhaps surprisingly, its diversity. While it is characterised by heritage, it also boasts one of Sydney’s most significant mid-century architectural accomplishments – Rose Seidler House. The modernist building sits in stark contrast to its older neighbours. Built by the renowned Harry Seidler between 1948 and 1950, the home sits as a testament to mid-century design. The bright oranges and blues that are splashed around the house, and the loud mural on the upper deck, are as attractive today as they were when the house were initially constructed; they are suitable to an interior design era that is increasingly gearing itself away from neutrals towards vividness.

 

 

Like other architects working on the north shore, Seidler was conscious of the relationship between the land and its buildings, resulting in a home that complements the site’s bushy landscape. The floor-to-ceiling glass featured in most of the rooms ensures the house is consistently light-filled. Meanwhile, the 1950s kitchen has barely aged, which is extremely rare for such a room – while a bit larger than our modern-day equivalents, it even has a dishwasher. The house is evidence of the way modernist design enables a home to retain its relevance and appeal, and also points to the importance of matching architectural plans with the urban landscape.

 

 

11 Woodburn Street, Redfern

 

Redfern has seen its profile shift pretty significantly over the past decade; its median house price is now over $800,000 (which is made even more notable by the large amount of tiny worker’s cottages in the area), it has its own small bar scene, and it borders suburbs that have experienced a similar rise in fortunes, such as Waterloo and Alexandria. However, Redfern’s village is still far grungier than Danks Street or anything industrial Alexandria has to offer, and, like Waterloo, which retains its soaring public housing high rises, Redfern has a precinct that has generally avoided gentrification – The Block.

 

 

As Redfern’s popularity soars, though, inner-city professionals, hipsters and, somewhat surprisingly, young families, are seeking to buy into the area, and may find The Block a more affordable entry point than the streets in the suburb’s east. With that in mind, 11 Woodburn Street is currently on the market – and, while technically sitting outside of The Block, it is one street east of The Block’s epicentre, Eveleigh Street. Woodburn Street is a tiny cul-de-sac, leaving it shielded from the liveliness of the bordering streets, but is priced lower than equivalents near Redfern village are likely to be. It’s still not small change, though – the off-street parking and 1880s Victorian façade have kept the price guide over $700,000.

 

 

The house is unrenovated, leaving potential for the new buyer to convert it into a trendy urban hideaway within walking distance to the southern end of the CBD. The courtyard and upstairs deck are particularly promising in this regard. The house is very narrow, with steeper stairs than I’ve ever climbed before – as unappealing as they may be to some, a spiral staircase might make the trip between floors less daunting, if the next owner is inclined to put one in. The bathroom is currently basic and sits at the back of the house, while the kitchen is small and un-noteworthy. The courtyard, meanwhile, is currently marked by bright graffiti, which, on the gloomy day I visited, provided a striking contrast to the dark flooring and grey skies. The bones of the house, and its location in one of the city’s hottest locales, are what make the property an interesting proposition. Meanwhile, the frontage, which is currently highlighted by a weatherboard sunroom, and tight interiors are examples of the features that define the Victorian architectural era. While the prospects of renovation are appealing, the terrace currently offers an intriguing insight into early residential life in one of Sydney’s most colourful inner-city pockets.

 

3 Darook Park Road, Cronulla


This post marks the first time The House Hunter has hit Sutherland Shire! Perhaps I was inspired by the beach trip taken last week. There’s no better way to be introduced to the Shire’s traditional beach spot, either, than this quintessential beach house at Cronulla. The only thing prettier than this home’s art deco frontage is its view – it offers direct access to Gunnamatta Bay, and is located on one of Cronulla’s prettiest, most private spots. For the fortunate owner, the backyard provides an extremely special, and rare, place to unwind, entertain or appreciate Sydney’s most aesthetically appealing features. You can literally step down from the stone retaining wall to the sand or the water, depending on the tide.

 

 

The large land size and stunning address mean that the property’s owners are currently looking for offers over $4.05 million. As well as the land’s foundational qualities, which offer everything needed to build one of the modern, glass-fronted mansions sprouting up across Sutherland’s best locations, the property offers a cute original home and separate studio. The home’s façade is in the P&O style, which seems particularly appropriate for the location -  it would be a shame to demolish it, and I feel that any new house built on the site would only be improved by incorporating the pre-existing form.

 

 

For those with the cash for it, though, the house offers the prospect of a seriously great beach house – the beautiful cobbled path leading to the house gives it a touch of whimsy, and the house’s timber beams are perfect for the rustic beach look. While a renovation would make it pop, simply brushing up on some of the corners and a coat of paint would make the house a perfect getaway, especially as it would retain all of the character of the original building. For fans of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the place encapsulates the wind, sand and stars paradigm the author used as the title of his engaging memoir.