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

Various – Echo Point, Balmain, East Killara

 

Being busy has impeded (aren’t you happy you read a blog that uses the word ‘impeded’?) me from exploring houses of late. One plus is I did write this well-received Seinfeld article recently, which I’m plugging again.

 

New friend.

Because I haven’t had time to look at a particular house, I’m once again showing you the exterior of some interesting houses I’ve come across in my wanderings. But instead of concentrating on the one suburb, like I usually do with these things, I’m taking you around the places I’ve been recently. The above house, for instance, is in Echo Point in the Blue Mountains. I’ve also traipsed around Balmain and East Killara. I’ve written a post on Killara before, but East Killara is a different architectural story – the houses are all extremely unique and lots of them are incredibly large, without the Federation background, making for an assortment of styles and histories.

 

By the way, the little guy to the right is the new friend I made at Echo Point. So adorable.

 

Echo Point is a sight seeing spot in the Blue Mountains that we visited on a daytrip to Leura. Apparently, it actually falls within Katoomba. It has some cute Federation and mid-century houses, the former mostly weatherboard. The median price in the general area is apparently $345,000, which means it wouldn’t be a bad place to pick up a weekender if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Balmain, another suburb I’ve looked at on the blog previously, is one of the inner west’s heroes. It’s home to terraces, good eats and views. It’s a ferry trip from the city. Pretty much everyone loves it there, except people who are trying to find parking.

 

East Killara is, unsurprisingly, the suburb east of Killara. It’s a small, quiet, walkable patch that, likes its neighbour, is affluent, but its housing seems to date primarily from the 1970s to now (while Killara is famed for its heritage). It’s also where Killara High is located, making it a hot spot for parents hoping to enrol their kids in the school. It’s family oriented and provides easy access to Chatswood, Gordon and St Ives. It borders the bush/national park, giving it some nice views and walking tracks, as well as a general peaceful setting. Its median is $1.365m.

 

Echo Point

 

 

Balmain

 
My love of dilapidation is a hard one to explain, but it’s always there. These sandstone cottages at Balmain are favourites of mine.

 

Balmain

 

If you walk through Balmain/Rozelle frequently, you’d know that the suburbs have a monopoly (or would it be oligopoly, then?) on cute houses. This one is a prime example.

 

East Killara

 

This is one of the houses in East Killara I was referring to earlier. Unfortunately, it had gotten too dark by the time I started snapping pictures so I’ll have to just leave you with this house for now. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in Australia. Enormous and just straight out intriguing.

 

East Killara

 

And since I mentioned another dog, I have to make mention of one of my own. She happens to be the prettiest dog on the planet.

 

Alice, supermodel canine and all-round great hound.

182 Denison Street, Newtown

I have been in my share of derelict places, and this is by far the most derelict. Which is what makes it so cool.

 

It’s a Victorian terrace in a quiet street of Newtown that has never been renovated, and has not been kept in the best condition.

 

It is creepy.

 

The photos explain it better than words can, but walking through the place you identify a few things – the inside has had years and years of indifferent living piled on it, with wallpaper peeling to show more wallpaper and an old kid’s rug covering the kitchen floor. It’s been bashed about. Then there’s what looks to be squatter’s writing on the wall of the living area. And there’s the odour upstairs, which was mildly scarring.

 

It’s exciting and scary to walk through, and it’ll be exciting and scary to renovate. It’s got a good location, a facade that will scrub up nicely and some original features worth saving – the fireplace downstairs is bricked up but has a very pretty frame.

 

 

 

 

 

It harkens back to old school Newtown grit, which is another plus point. On the other hand, it will soon be a sparkling refashioned respectable home. It’s currently on the market, so someone will assuredly pick it up and have fun with it. The day I saw it I was late (no surprise there), but the inspection had been busy and there was an overflow of investors exploring it with me. It’s also been listed in SMH‘s ‘Smart Buys’ section (billed as a ‘haunted house’), so I’m not the only person paying attention. Nor should I be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balmain, Sydney

As you can probably tell, since they demonstrate a level of photographic skill I haven’t quite yet attained (still waiting for someone to shout me a DSLR and a photography lesson…), these photos are not mine. But no matter. The house is pretty, and belongs to Ellie Bradley, who heads up Xavier & Me.

 

So today’s post takes the form of another Q&A-with-a-professional. Below is my interview with Ellie, who takes us through her design inspirations and provides some tips for anyone hoping to pretty up their own place. It’s a bit unique insofar as the family decided to move into an already-renovated home; a rarity for design professionals.

 

How much did your work influence the design of your own home?
We moved into our home in October 2012 and it was already renovated. Our decision to move into a home already renovated was motivated by a year long struggle to get a DA through on another home. It was a very stressful year, so we decided to keep our home, put it on the rental market and go in search of something we can move straight into.

 

Rugs are used in the home to create contrast in streamlined, modern rooms.

 

The home was renovated back in 2010, and mixes the traditional features of the home with modern features. The home has loads of storage which was a must and we now also have that crucial extra room which I have turned into my studio. In terms of the style of home, it really was a blank canvas which enable me to fill up the home with my treasures – from porcelain tea pots, to aboriginal artworks, to loads of my cushions and rugs.

 

Who lives in the house?
I live here with my husband, Richard and my little boy Xavier, who is nearly 5.

 

How did you decide on the home itself? What was its background?
We needed more space and storage. As I work from home, I really needed (and so did my family) a separate room that I could make into my studio. It’s one of the bedrooms at the front of the house and looks out onto the street with some city glimpses through a beautiful Frangipani tree. We are slightly elevated from the street level, so it’s lovely being able to take in the day without feeling like I am in a fish bowl.

 

Can you take us through your approach to colour and pattern?
My approach to colour and pattern is constantly changing, as I think this is something I’m still discovering myself as I grow as a designer, but on the whole I am a big lover of bright colours and bold patterns. I love using contrasts in my designs between different materials and media or by fusing bold strong colours with complementary muted tones. I love the modernist art movement Bauhaus’ main objective to unify art, craft and technology. Their rational designs are based on simple geometric shapes and primary colours, which you see a lot of in my work.

 It’s lovely being able to take in the day without feeling like I am in a fish bowl.

 
How heavily styled is your home on a day-to-day basis?

Ellie's office.


On a day-to-day basis my home is pared back on the styling, however I do love showing my treasures and tend to mix it up. I don’t have everything out at once as I like to more curate the spaces in my home. I tend to pick up things here and there, and they don’t all work together, so I have tended towards creating a mini gallery where I change things around, move pieces from room to room. I like the fluidity of styling my home.

 

Do you have any favourite stores to pick up homewares from?
Planet on Commonwealth, in Surry Hills. I am good friends with the owner Ross Longmuir and he has a wonderful curated mix of artists and his own furniture and fabrics. Another favourite shop is actually one of my online retailers, Everything Beings. Amy searches far and wide for the most interesting new artwork and objects, made by independent and emerging artists, designers and makers all over the world, which she brings to us online. A recent addition to the site was a series of artworks by Australian illustrator Letitia Buchan.

Do you have any tips for others trying to improve the appearance of their home?
Here are my top ten tips for breathing new life into your home:

 

  1. De-clutter – Even if your have created a beautiful room, clutter can detract from the overall look. Make sure those usual suspects of kids’ toys, stationery, magazines, pile of different electronic plugs for different devices (I have one of these on my kitchen bench) have their own place so they are easy to find but not scattered or piled up.
  2. Lighting – A great way to update your room is to add lighting. Draping some string lights over a bookshelf or updating your boring ceiling light to something a bit more stylish could change the whole look of a room.
  3. Rugs – rugs add texture and warmth to a room. It can also add character to a neutral décor, soften a busy scheme or tie together key colours in a room. It’s also a great way to aid in room planning and acoustics if you live with a large open plan space.
  4. Cushions – another great way to add colour and pattern, breathing new life into your room. Mix pattern, colour and textures to create a statement.
  5. Wallpaper – There are some beautiful wallpapers out there – whether you want something busy, loud, muted or kitsch. Be brave and completely cover the walls of a small room or make a statement in a larger room by papering just one wall.
  6. Reupholster – Old dining chairs, headboards and sofas can be reinvented to refresh a room’s look. Find a contemporary patterned fabric and get your old furniture reupholstered for a brand new sense of style and comfort.
  7. Colour scheme – You don’t need to go overboard when finding a colour scheme for a room – unless, of course, you really want to make a statement. Pick out the pre-existing key colours of your room or choose a specific object which you wish to use as the colour inspiration and add complementary coloured ornaments or soft furnishings. If your room has a neutral décor, inject a few really bright shades.
  8. Make a statement – If you’ve got a bit of cash set aside, consider splashing it on a statement item which will give your room the ‘wow factor’. Depending on budget, room type and your personal taste, this can range from a designer ornament to a framed canvas or flash contemporary fireplace.
  9. Flowers – Okay, so it’s not quite going to restyle the room, but displaying flowers is a wonderful way of breathing life into a room, adding colour and making a style statement. Commit to a regular change of bouquets and vases to keep your room alive and create a feast for the eyes.
  10. Mirrors – If you don’t have a feature mirror in at least one room of your house – why not? As well as creating the feeling of space and reflecting light, a mirror says you are proud of your home, it is vanity for your interior and a wonderful way to add perspective.

Sugarmill Development, Camperdown

 

I have some eye-candy for you – and it’s heritage eye-candy, which is usually preferable. This development at Camperdown has just about reached completion, and hopefully it’ll add to the cool-trendy-warehouse-conversion vibe that Camperdown has been cultivating over the past few years. This particular development is, as the name suggests, a re-working of an old sugar warehouse.

 

The original site.

 

Camperdown is a well-positioned area – very close to the city, Sydney Uni, UTS and Annandale, which is one of my favourite suburbs and as such deserves a mention. It still has a bit of a creepy vibe (in my opinion), but young professional hispters seem to enjoy a bit of ‘grittiness’ (but not too much!). It’s a suburb that’s ideal for developers due to its industrial heritage – there are plenty of character-filled warehouses to redesign.

 

 

It’s a good combination for the burgeoning population – which tends to be a combination of students and fairly well-off young professionals who want to be close to the action.

 

 

I particularly like the outdoor spaces here – you’ll find that I’m a sucker for indoor/outdoor spaces, and these seem particularly seamless (a bedroom with pretty sliding door access to a courtyard is my idea of heaven).

 

 

Another thing I’m crazy about – which you might know if you’re a regular reader – is floorboards. Most apartment complexes opt for carpets for noise reasons, so it’s nice to see this development breaking the mould (presumably with soundproof insulation). Floorboards add timeless appeal to a space, so they’re always an appealing design choice.

 

24 Glebe Point Road, Glebe


This house is as amazing as it appears to be from the street – an old mansion with a character-filled history, an exquisite representation of early Federation architecture, and a great opportunity to restore a Glebe landmark. The hard-worn rooms are fitting for Glebe, where once-grand terraces and Victorian homes were routinely left to fall into a sad state of disrepair before being revived by new-to-the-area professional couples (maybe they’ve been priced out of the north shore and eastern suburbs, or they could be part of a new upper-tax bracket group who wants to experience the ‘grittiness’ of the mostly gentrified inner-inner-west).

 

 

 

That renovation is presumably what is going to happen to this house, which is currently on the market (to be auctioned next week, with estimates around halfway between the suburb’s median and the highest sale price in the Glebe in the past twelve months). It needs it – as much as I tend towards peeling paint and retro tile arrangements over perfect limestone bathrooms and exquisite entry halls, there are some rooms on the second storey where I trod gingerly in case I fell through the floorboards (the house is said to be structurally sound, so this was mostly psychological – the bones of the house are good, which makes renovation a surface job). Many of the home’s features are so well maintained that, thankfully, it will be easy to preserve the house’s character and identity upon restoring it. Nevertheless, there is something to be said for the house’s raw ghostliness currently – you breathe in decades of life as you move through the rooms.

 

The house has all of the hallmarks of fine period architecture – the ceilings are soaring, the fireplaces are gorgeously ornate and the house’s front garden couldn’t be prettier. One thing it offers in spades is space – the rooms are huge, and there are many of them. I could’ve gotten lost in the place.

 

 

 

24 Glebe Point Road was first recorded as existing, according to the house’s heritage listing, in 1902. That seems about right – the house’s face appears to blend Victorian and Federation themes, although the exposed brick (rather than stucco coating) confirms its Federation background. The listing concludes that the house “is a rare, high quality, outstanding example of a highly intact original residential exterior and interior of high quality design with outstanding potential to be restored with minimum effort”. The steep gables, tessellated tiles and front verandah are given special in the mention in the listing, which makes sense as they, firstly, represent key period design features, and, secondly, are still in good order.

 

 

 

Walking through this property in original condition is worth it – faded grandeur has more character than a refashioned mansion, although it will make an exquisite home once restored; one to impress and inspire envy in guests. The house may seem eerie to some, but that tingly feeling of suspense you get before entering each room connects you with the house’s century of existence.