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: New South Wales

152 Clyde Street, North Bondi

 

I actually really like certain contemporary houses. The reason I don’t feature them as often as I do character homes is that not enough people put effort into the design of new homes. It’s all function, no form. So I get really excited when I find a house like this one – a new place that’s totally perfect.

 

It’s in North Bondi, and is well-placed in-between the beach and Rose Bay, my old haunt. As an aside, North Bondi is the best part of Bondi. I guess I can’t technically say that’s a fact, as such…but it’s definitely true. Everything is just pretty nice there. It’s also, incidentally, pretty expensive.

 

This house manages to be beachy, industrial and very architecture-y all at once. The concrete floors, plentiful use of timber, painted brick and deck/pool area combine to give off a kind of ’60s modernist vibe, but in a current-day space.

 

There’s wine storage – always a massive plus – and the layout is good for families or sharers; there’s a fourth bedroom tucked away downstairs that has a nice little view over the front yard and is totally independent from the rest of the house, with its own bathroom and study area. This room would be my room, if I could buy this house. It is on the market, although certainly out of my price range (unless the vendor is willing to accept $26 and a pair of four year old Louboutins…to be fair the Louboutins are really awesome and it’d be sad to see them go, so that’s something). The kind of buyer who should be looking at it – all over it, more precisely – is one who wants contemporary features in a visually arresting place that is located in a part of the east that manages to capture everything at once; the family-oriented, quiet aspects of Rose Bay and the dining/beach vibe.

 

So, where should you go if you want a location like this one – close to the beach, rubbing shoulders with prestigious suburbs, restaurants/cafes/bars on offer, a certain amount of blue chip serenity, Cranbrook/Kambala/Ascham/Scots College all in nice proximity – but are not too keen on the $1.67m median price range? Well…I’m not sure. There’s only one area that compares that I can think of (Mosman – more prestigious than North Bondi, also close to the beach [albeit a very different type of beach], good dining choices but less bars, elite private schools, a nice atmosphere), and it’s even dearer (median of $2.1m). There’s also Manly (excellent choice of bars, gorgeous beaches, not the elite school capital), but its median has crept up to $1.64m, putting it in the not-exactly-affordable category, too. Which is understandable. All great areas. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, you’re going to have to compromise.

 

This is the best bathroom I've ever seen. I adore it.

 

If you can’t tear yourself away from the east and need to be near the beach, Malabar is probably a good bet. Cheaper, ‘quieter’ than Maroubra, geographically impressive. Only issues are the STP and the lack of dining options – you’ll have to trek up to Coogee. But hey, the property market is often about compromise. If you’re not as interested in being right near the beach, Alexandria isn’t a bad choice; it’s been coming up in the cafe/bakery scene for a while, and when I lived there the trip to the eastern beaches was never difficult. If proximity to the city isn’t an issue, my choice would be the northern beaches; suburbs like Newport and Mona Vale are more affordable, have good beaches and are developing decent dining scenes. Your main issue there is the commute.

 

But if you can afford the proper east, this house should tick most of your boxes. I know it ticks mine. It has city skyline views, which helps it push just that little bit further across the ‘awesome’ line.

 

 

I have a lot of love for industrial-style kitchens.

 

The House Hunter outfit of the day.

10 Norma Road, Palm Beach

 

My Saturday night plans were canned due to a headcold. The upside is that it’s given me a chance to blog – as cool a Saturday night activity as any…right? Spending the morning soaking up sun in Palm Beach was a pretty excellent start to the day, and this was a suitable spot for it – 10 Norma Road, a quiet, elevated street with an incredible aspect. The home is a beach house through-and-through (with a laidback, modern renovation), and that’s why I like it so much.

 

God I love these kind of chairs. Can someone please buy me one, and a place that has a deck so I can use it?

 

It would be remiss of me to describe the house without first emphasising the view. It is a serious view. The house is designed to support it; both the main level and the downstairs studio space lead out onto decks that take advantage of the closeness of the ocean. I could’ve stood there all day. It helps that the living area is so attractive – dark timber floors, lofty ceilings, bifold doors. The kitchen benefits directly from the views, too. I can imagine having a lot of fun times in this part of the house. It’s built for entertaining and relaxation (not surprising given the area is known as a ‘millionaire’s playground’ – yep, I squirmed while typing that – and is known for its high-end weekenders; convenient example here).

 

The house is built on a sloping block, which means two things; more vantage points for views, and lots of stairs. I often like stairs as they can help to break up space, but I’ll let you determine your own view on that one. Some nice features of the house include the fact that it’s so open; the main living area is split off from a secondary one via stairs (similar to a loft situation), which gives the place an airiness (perfect for the beach vibe). There are plenty of bathrooms (all of them done in a nice minimalist style that complements the house design well – simple tiles and mirrors), the bedrooms have high ceilings, and there is a third entertaining area at the rear of the house that again has a nice indoor/outdoor thing going on with the bifolds and deck. There’s a nice grassed yard, to boot.

 

The lower level is a studio type space that’s currently set up as a bedroom. It has a bathroom and, as mentioned above, access to a deck with full ocean views. This is my room if I move in, for the record.

 

The house is on the market. Palm Beach has apparently been a popular spot for buyers recently, with the SMH speculating that this is due to Sydney’s amazing winter weather. It is a great spot; secluded, summery, visually stunning and home to Boathouse Palm Beach, which isn’t bad for a feed (if you don’t mind lining up…). I’d hypothesise that the key target markets would be families and wealthy types looking for a holiday house to retreat to on weekends. What would be better, though, is if one of my friends buys it and a) lets me live there and b) agrees to entertain regularly. This house is the place for it.

 

Ahhh, the view.

 

 

In my mind, this is where I prepare excellent meals for chilled hangouts on the deck.

 

 

The rear living area – good for a family in need of space or a group who are sharing.

 

 

The main room of the house; entertaining/living/kitchen/dining.

 

 

The downstairs studio (AKA my room).

 

 

The backyard has a cubby house! Pretty sure I would play in one of these if given the chance. Hell, I'd live in it if it had good views/a better aspect than my current place.

 

 

Pared back bathrooms complement the laidback interiors.

Bunk beds. Everyone's favourite as a child. Less popular for adults.

 

17/74-80 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills

Couldn’t help but lead with the photo to the right because I adore it. So, if you’re a regular reader (and hopefully you are, because that would make you a very cool person. And aren’t we all striving to be cool?), you’ve probably noticed that many of my recent posts have featured places in the inner-east. Yes indeed. This is because I am now based in Sydney’s special inner part…the part that’s a little bit scary and amazing all at once. It also has to do with the fact that my car is less accessible at the moment (which is to say, unregistered).

 

But enough about me. This apartment is a warehouse conversion. People who live in this building are lucky, because it happens to house one of the city’s best little cafes/sandwich joints – City Edge Cafe. I spent many a lunchtime there while at uni. It was totally worth the hike. Excellent sandwiches and Vietnamese rice paper rolls. It’s also on the same street as The Sandwich Shop, Wild Life Hair, Single Origin, numerous other cafes and homewares stores that I cannot afford to purchase anything in. There’s a cool art book store on the adjoining street. Anyway, point is: good spot.

 

What attracted me to this two bedroom apartment was how it’s ‘dressed’; someone with an eye for interior design has cast a look over the place. The use of stark white with gold accents is always pretty, particularly teamed with the whitewashed floorboards. The high ceilings are indicative of the building’s warehouse history, while the soaring windows a) are awesome in general and b) let in plenty of natural light. The apartment has been renovated to an excellent standard, with two slick bathrooms and a contemporary kitchen.

 

 

My favourite feature is the outdoor entertaining area, which is accessible via bifold doors that join it with the living area, making for an indoor/outdoor transition. It’s a functional and versatile space (it would be silly not to take advantage of it with frequent parties). The recycled blackbutt timber floorboards also provide it with some extra intrigue. It’s been manicured so intricately that it would be a shame not to get good use of it. It also provides a district view of the area, which, if nothing else, would assuredly provide some interest on occasion, given Surry’s colour.

 

The interior design elements have been focused on making the space appear roomier, and this has worked. The large, ornate mirrors are a nice touch, and I’ll never say no to a Louis Ghost Chair (in fact, I own one! Chuffed). The apartment is decently sized (85sqm – it feels bigger due to the above), although with two bedrooms it’s more likely to appeal to an investor or professional couple than a family (if the idea of families living in inner-city apartments isn’t a myth. I’m not entirely sure either way).

 

It’s currently up for auction. It last sold for $430,000 in 2005, according to the information I have. That figure, I imagine, would be significantly lower than the price sought now, given it appears that the apartment has been overhauled (and Surry’s prospects have continually risen). It’s a good opportunity – it would rent well (people like pretty apartments); it’s exceptionally well located (both culturally and in terms of proximity to the CBD – it’s an easy stroll. I photographed the apartment with a friend in my lunchbreak, so there is your anecdotal proof); and it doesn’t require work (purchasers seem to be a little wary of apartment renovations. Strata approvals etc…).

 

 

 

The Kartell Louis Ghost Chairs meet with my approval.

 

 

48 Liverpool Street, Paddington

Paddington occupies a kind of interesting place on the Sydney suburb map. It’s often associated with the inner-east (particularly its neighbour, Darlinghurst), but (in my view, anyway), it’s really the place where the east ‘proper’ begins to bloom (did you just cringe when you read ‘bloom’ in that context? I did when I wrote it), and the suburb it’s most similar to is probably Woollahra (except it has more … stuff). My evidence? House prices (it’s pretty dear); cleanliness (it’s pretty clean); all-round lack of grime and inner-city grittiness (it’s pretty nice). I like both the inner urban spaces and the stately Paddington streets equally, so I don’t take a side … but Paddington sure is pretty. The best part about it is its streetscapes – they are extremely appealing. The terraces are grand; worker’s cottages are less common here. There is leafiness. The serenity (that phrase might conjure less affluent Australian postcodes, depending on your pop culture references). Lots of people know how to dress in this suburb (still not enough, unfortunately). Speaking of which, despite what newspapers have been saying in recent years (imagine the irony of newspapers criticising industry decline?), the shopping in Paddington is still excellent.

 

 

This house forms part of one of the abovementioned streetscapes. It’s testament to the quality of the 2004 renovation that it still looks so new. That’s no exaggeration – it’s a Victorian freestanding home, but lots of it looks brand new. I do miss the character a little. However, the owners were extremely sympathetic to the home’s original character and preserved all the features they could – right down to the intricate ceiling detailing that once featured above one of the home’s fireplaces. Another original fireplace is intact, and the original light sashes are in place (adore). The ceilings are high (one of my favourite things in houses), the bathroom has had a very cool timber floor makeover, and the seagrass mats (made to measure) suit the place perfectly.

 

 

A pretty awesome feature is on the top floor, which is used as a bedroom – a glass sliding frame (kind of like a sunroof on a car) can be pulled over the stairs to give the level privacy, something often lacking from loft spaces. Unfortunately, despite the owner helping me out with an ultra-powerful light, I wasn’t able to get a properly representative picture as it was a very dark, gloomy, rainy, miserable day (which is why the photos used in this post are the generous owner’s. Mine just didn’t match up in the dark!).

 

The refurbishment was intricately thought out, and was designed to take advantage of the property’s north-facing aspect. This is true right down to the lights; they were painted the same colour as the walls to “give you that unintrusive type of light”, according to the owner.

 

The kitchen is at the northern end of the home and therefore has natural light to spare (I struggled to word this sentence…still don’t think I quite made it, but I did my best). The travertine (heated) floors and limestone benches are nice touches, and the view out to the courtyard is a plus.

 

 

The house has most of the contemporary features you’d expect in an executive family home, but what really sets it off are its unique character details (the uneven-shaped lot, for instance, has resulted in an interesting floorplan) and its location in one of Paddington’s best pockets.

74 Sophia Street, Surry Hills

Surry Hills is one of my favourite suburbs, and this original terrace might have had the greatest emotional effect on me of all the houses I’ve featured on the blog (which isn’t to say they’re not all amazing. They are. You should totally go back and read about them when you’re done with this post). I’m not totally sure I can explain why – I’ve featured dilapidated terraces before – but something about this one is deeply evocative; hopefully the photos can express it better than I can verbally. It’s grungey and when you walk through it you’re transported to this untouched, decaying otherness. I completely adore it.

 

So, what are the points to note about the house? We’re looking at a three bedroom terrace with a courtyard (and vegetable patch. Win!), in addition to rear lane access. There is no parking, but hey, you’re in Surry Hills – you can get used to that.

 

The ‘terrace’ itself is a sunroom. I personally prefer when these are converted into terrace structures (ie open to the elements) as I think that looks prettier on houses like these; however, that would require really sensitive treatment in order to ensure it’s in keeping with the design of the house, if it were to be permitted. Plus, some people prefer sunrooms.

 

The plus side of the house being unrenovated, of course, is it retains every element of its heritage features, which the renovator will hopefully take full advantage of. High ceilings, French doors, wooden floorboards, ornate skirting boards and so on.

 

My favourite picture.

 

The current bathroom is an outhouse. It looks exquisite (to me, anyway); pink paint contrasted with square white tiles and a lopsided mirror. Fun fact; the house I grew up in only had an outhouse for a couple of years before my parents incorporated it into the house. So there you go.

 

The floorboards are original and have different shades and so forth. If possible I’d try polishing the floorboards as is to keep that ‘mismatched/contrast’ look. But keep two things in mind: I have no idea if this is possible, and I am a bit strange in general.

 

One of the rooms is quite interesting for its time; it has an interior window that looks into the kitchen in order to let light in. This is a common design element of modern-day one bedroom suite apartments. The obvious change here is to knock down that wall and create an open plan kitchen/dining/living area.

 

Two of the bedrooms are upstairs, one is downstairs. I’m not sure whether the floorplan will be significantly updated when the renovation is done, although a bathroom will obviously have to be included. There is fairly significant space in the back courtyard (it currently houses a bathroom and large laundry area), that could be utilised as a studio/teenager’s accommodation if you were that way inclined. I assume many people would prefer to keep the space for a back garden, but it doesn’t hurt to have room for more living space when you’re looking at a terrace home.

 

 

74 Sophia Street is on a cute street in Surry Hills close to the Holt Street end of the suburb (which is the part of the suburb I’m most familiar with. Hello, News Ltd building). That means it’s close to Holt Street dining, Central Station (can’t really get much more convenient than that, can it?) and everything else the area has on offer, which is quite a lot.

 

Laundry/outhouse.

 

It is going to auction. I would buy it if I could and leave it in its original condition as a kind of amazing doll house/squattersville. Ideas like that probably indicate that perhaps it’s for the best that I don’t have the money.

 

Does this not look like it could be in a '90s Marilyn Manson film clip?

The State Library of NSW has this neat picture of what Sophia Street looked like once upon a time. Most people (surely anyone who’s been there) know the suburb’s rags-to-riches story by now, although the people who know it most intimately are also aware that it still has its ‘characters’, its housing commission residences, its sad stories, and its dilapidated terraces. The original terraces afford those looking for inner-city living with an enviable opportunity, although their numbers are reducing all the time.

 

The reason this one stands out from the pack is, firstly, it looks plain interesting (look at the photo to the left – amazing!), and, secondly, its size; this is fairly large, as far as Surry Hills terraces go. Many of the houses in the area are worker’s cottages; this one has a wider, more ornate frontage (worker’s cottages also tend to just come straight up out of the footpath, with no front courtyard/dividing space) and more room to breathe.

 

The suburb has a median house price of around $960k, making it a bit cheaper than its neighbour, Darlinghurst. I can only imagine this is because Darlinghurst borders swanky Paddington. Surry Hills seems to offer a bit more space/parkland than its inner-city cousins Darlinghurst and Potts Point (okay, I’m not sure how Potts Point could be regarded as Surry’s ‘cousin’…but just go with me on this). It’s probably due to the way it was initially constructed; there was more of an emphasis on housing, whereas Potts Point was one of Sydney’s first centres of apartment living. In any case, the suburb is one of the most appealing inner-city post codes; it offers easy access to the city, a plethora of dining/bar options and oozes historic significance.