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: Queensland

724 Sherwood Road, Sherwood

 

Normally, I ‘hunt’ down and photograph the properties featured here myself (it’s a labour-intensive blog!). But this very, very pretty house was sent through to me and I’m extremely excited to feature it. It’s located in Brisbane, a city I haven’t properly visited (but am keen to). Stephanie Skyring, the architect, specialises in sustainable design, and has also shared her top ten tips for environmental sustainability with us – our next post will feature those, so look out for it.

 

 

By way of (short) contextual background, my research has informed me that Sherwood is within ten kilometres of Brisbane’s CBD, borders the Brisbane River and is next to an awesome-sounding suburb called Fig Tree Pocket.

 

The house was a beautiful Queensland character property that needed a contemporary update. Stephanie focused on opening spaces to external areas, making the house seem roomier without having to increase its environmental footprint by extending it. Similarly to Rose Seidler House, large windows are used to bring in light and connect the house with its lush, rainforest-like surroundings. The living room nails the brief – the slanted wood-pannelled ceiling paired with a wallpapered feature inlet and angular glass window pane is, firstly, insanely attractive, and, secondly, completely complementary to the home’s bushland habitat.

 

 

My favourite rooms, though, are the powder room and bathroom. They. Are. Amazing.

 

 

Powder room: I have to note that nothing strikes me as more luxurious than a powder room, and I must have one myself. But I digress. Fish wallpaper (need I go on? This alone seals the deal) and a gilded ornate mirror set off against white cornices, black flooring and an oversized hanging light – decadent, inspired, eccentric.

 

 

Bathroom: you see the wide, white, brick-style tiles (apparently known as ‘metro tiles’, as they resemble those used in the subway)? I love these things. They’re classically stylish but still jump off the wall at you in an edgy way due to their dark borders. Here, they are set off against the silver finishings, tiny green plant (cute! Also essential in adding some colour goodness) and symmetrical lighting to great effect.

 

 

Again, the bedroom has the slanted roof/wallpaper combination that I adore – it makes a room pop without the need for many furnishings (in fact, such a style looks better with a minimalist layout, as is shown here). The fans were employed by Stephanie as an environmentally-friendly way of combating the Queensland heat. The louvre windows are also great at regulating temperature, and they’re a delightful aesthetic addition.

 

Weekend Round-Up

Okay, so it’s a little late for a post relating to the weekend. So shoot me!

 

I’ve decided I’m going to attempt to write a ’round-up’ of any properties I happen to see on the weekend, as well as the weekend property sections of The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. While I like the latter’s in-depth articles on Sydney property, the former provides a good view of the national market (which can sometimes be difficult to gauge from Sydney – although I always seem to be watching the Melbourne market).

 

This weekend, Tony and I attended an auction in Waverton. Our main reason for doing so was that I had been going on – and on – about it – a 64 square metre apartment with lock-up garage and balcony right near Waverton’s village and railway station. The best part? It had offers around $400,000 listed as its price range. ‘This might be a good investment!’ I thought to myself, particularly given how ‘slow’ the property market supposedly is at the moment and poor auction clearance rates.

 

But things didn’t quite go to plan. There were scores of people at the auction, and it ended up reaching almost $500,000 (with an opening bid of $400,000). The rental yield was estimated by the agent as $410 partially renovated (it is completely unrenovated at the moment), and $450 fully renovated, so a rental yield well below 5%.

 

Below are a few pictures I snapped on my iPhone of the apartment, which was built in 1968.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve picked one interesting article from each broadsheet’s property section to dissect.

 

Sydney Morning Herald, Antony Lawes, ‘Grass is Not Always Greener in the Suburbs’, February 11-12, pp 8-9.

This story discusses families with children increasingly choosing to live within the inner-city rather than branch out into suburbia. I have no doubt that the city is becoming a more family-friendly location. I think the big factor in this that the article misses is gentrification. Although still harbouring some pretty undesirable precincts, Sydney’s CBD and surrounding suburbs have had substantial demographic shifts.

 

The sentence that I really disagree with, which quotes talent from UNSW, states that “There is the extra time that families spend driving the kids around because they can’t walk to school or to the shops, which is ‘bad for their health because they’re not as active’”. Firstly, kids shouldn’t be walking the city streets alone. I honestly can’t think of anything more horrifying, particularly around Surry Hills where, although I love it, I sometimes find myself encountering scary people. Secondly, why are the sports fields and shops suddenly so much closer in the city? There aren’t many sports fields near the city. At all. I’ve never seen a tennis court in the city. I think there’s an indoor one somewhere. Maybe. You’d probably be driving your kids to Centennial Park to play tennis. Also, there are shops in suburban areas. Every upper north shore suburb barring Warrawee and Killara has a village. So do many lower north shore suburbs – Mosman (which, being within 10km of the city, is actually  closer to the CBD than a number of the suburbs mentioned in the articles – but suburbs over the bridge seem to be designated strictly ‘suburban’) has an expansive shopping strip. Most suburbs have something, and some suburbs (like Hurstville, Parramatta or Eastgardens) have a lot. It seems a bit ridiculous to assert that the CBD is the only place you can walk to the shops. And why are the schools suddenly closer? That depends entirely on where your kid goes to school. Many kids walk to school from their house. They don’t have to live in the city.

 

Yeah, I picked that sentence apart a bit, but I just really disliked it.

 

Also, some of the suburbs that are chosen to be featured in the article don’t really make sense. Chippendale is inner-city, definitely. I’ll take Waterloo at a stretch (I lived at Alexandria for three years, and it wasn’t exactly a stroll into the CBD). But Arncliffe? Canterbury?! Botany? Wareemba? Wareemba is one suburb farther away from the city than my suburb. It’s not ‘far away’ by any stretch, but I don’t think anyone in their right mind would call it inner-city. These suburbs are just that – suburbs. They’re part of the suburbia parents are apparently decrying. Of the 14 suburbs that are listed in the break-out box, I’d consider one to be inner-city. The guide seems to assert that if a suburb is less than 10km from the CBD, it is inner-city. But by that logic, you’d include most of the lower north shore and eastern suburbs.

 

I think the article is making an interesting point, but it would’ve been great reading about families occupying inner-city apartments and terraces in places like Dawes Point, Surry Hills and Ultimo (suburbs that really are inner-city). While this article asserts that buyers are interested in “city convenience”, from reading the story, I get the impression they just enjoy inner-suburbia, not actual city living.

 

The Australian, Lisa Allen, ‘A Makeover to Sell is Probably Wasted’, February 11-12, p 7.

This article quotes an agent based in Sydney’s inner-west, who claims that it’s a bad idea to do a big renovation before selling a house. This is contrasted, though, with another agent, who claims that a renovation done well and without too many personal affectations should be worthwhile. I like the balance of opinions. I think it’s a complex issue that depends on the house in question. Minor renovations are considered a winner in the article.

 

The inner-west agent says that renovating the kitchen and bathroom can be a waste of money. I tend to disagree with that. Unless you’re selling a renovator (which should be priced accordingly), I think sprucing up those rooms is always a good idea if the property is old. An old house has many features that weather time well – high ceilings, ornate fireplaces, timber floorboards – but an old kitchen and bathroom can be off-putting depending on the price range.