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: Northern Beaches

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.


61 Cabarita Road, Avalon


This family home in Avalon is defined by two things: views and stairs. It’s built on a steep block and takes advantage of the Careel Bay views by incorporating levels. Each level has a water outlook, making for a pretty ideal northern beaches vibe.



The design aesthetic is mostly contemporary, and multiple timber decks ensure that the home takes full advantage of the outlook. One of the best parts of the home, though, is its quirky details, which can be perceived both in the décor and in the architecture. An example of this is the top floor of the house, a hidey-hole study at the home’s tip that, again, presents a glorious view.



The home is on the market, and I can see how it’s a pretty appealing package for home-buyers; views, architectural interest and a price around $1.325 million that seems spot on. The stairs up to the home also make a pretty decent exercise option, if you’re the kind of person who’s into running stairs (I am, and always seem to be identifying new stair-run locations…).


I love this wall sticker. Plus, I am significantly taller than the tallest height on it, which, even though it's intended for children, I take as an achievement.


Quirkiness rarely goes astray in my books. This children's bedroom also had an interesting second level/deck.



Light and space is well-incorporated into the master bedroom, which has this sitting area.


308 Thornton Street, Fairlight


Paul and Kerrie Carroll had a connection with their Federation house in Sydney’s northern beaches from the start; they bought it from family friends. When their friends decided to sell, it was an easy decision to buy – “We had always loved it and the area. At that time, we had a third child on the way and lived just two streets away,” Paul explains.



The house is a great exercise in bricolage – heritage charm is juxtaposed against colourful collectibles and antiques sourced from all over. The 1917 facade was not altered during the renovation. The couple’s interest in contrast is most obvious in the sitting room, where an eye-catching assortment of artefacts sit amongst the room’s classic period detailing. The result is a playful space. The couple notes that the fusion of contemporary and historic didn’t come easily. “The greatest challenge was deciding to add a modern design to quite an old house and making sure it worked, so that the old flowed into the new,” Kerrie says. The pressed metal ceilings are decorated with delicate plasterwork of Australiana rosettas. Special pieces – like the tiger head and rocking horse – were picked up by the Carrolls from vintage stores and markets.



“We wanted to open up the living areas and let the light in,” Paul says about their new living area. “When we renovated the back of the house, the living areas had become too small and pokey for a growing family needing space.” The area now combines with the kitchen to make a light-filled space ideal for entertaining.


The kitchen was a large part of the couple’s renovation, and is strictly contemporary in style. The space shows off their appreciation of clean, uncluttered spaces.



The living space leads out onto the back deck through bifold doors, creating an easy space to entertain guests in. The backyard is the couple’s work in progress – their next project to tackle. Paul and Kerrie note that they are still working on the garden landscaping, but their preference for farmhouse style elements is already apparent.



The couple worked with Team 2 Design to remodel the back of their home. Paul was impressed with the architects’ work, noting that they “came up with a great design that works well and looks great” while suiting the house’s Federation heritage.



“We nominate our bike racks as the house’s weirdest feature,” Kerrie says. Since it’s an older home, the couple decided to maximise the space underneath the stairs as an efficient storage solution. 


Paul says with a laugh, “If our walls could talk they would probably ask ‘Where are you?’ because we’re never home. When we are though, we love it.”
 The couple is continuing to improve on the house, turning their attention to the original bathroom, and plan to stay in the area. “The natural beauty, swimming and surfing at lovely beaches or in the harbour are too incredible to leave behind.”



Moore Street, Freshwater


This is a particularly exciting post as it’s the blog’s first on a house in the northern beaches. I was lured into the region for a visit due to the promise of prettier, more private beaches than their eastern suburbs counterparts, and the image I had of weathered beach shacks lining the shores. I knew this image was slightly idealistic – beachfront mansions now appear to be more common than their holiday house ancestors. I was lucky, though, in that I happened to find the perfect place to write about – a heritage-listed beachfront beauty in Freshwater now known serving up Italian cuisine as Pilu.




I ended up in Freshwater with no clear direction – I drove east from Mosman in search of the beach, and followed signs ad hoc before spontaneously deciding on the suburb just north of Manly. I could just have easily ended up in Dee Why or Newport, and was even considering the trek out to Whale Beach. It was a good choice – its cute village leads to a beautiful, if small, beachfront, and it is covered with attractive, historic buildings. The significant number of charming buildings is evidence of the suburb’s long history – it began development in the late nineteenth century. Nevertheless, many of the suburb’s prime landholdings are occupied by contemporary masterpieces with glass frontages perfect for scoping the view. I was looking for something different, though – an old-school beach house.



While this building is now set up as a fine dining spot, it was once a house, and it stands on one of Freshwater’s best spots, mere steps from the sand. The house’s weatherboard construction complements its location, and the pale blue and bone white shades, wooden floor boards, high, beamed ceilings and curved, soaring windows combine to make it an ideal getaway destination. Standing within the building, walking through its charming gardens and tracing the aged pathways surrounding it conjure images of long summers spent on the beach. It’s the best type of beach house, where perfection gives way to perpetually sandy floors, fans trying to beat the Sydney heat, and coastal breezes offering sweet respite.