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: Sydney

2b Tarrant Avenue, Bellevue Hill

 

Ahh, Bellevue Hill, one of Sydney’s stomping grounds for the elite. One of the things they do there is buy up sexy pieces of real estate, which is where 2b Tarrant Avenue comes into the frame. It’s currently on the market for offers around $5m. Much to my chagrin, I just discovered that Title Deeds got to this one first, but they don’t seem to go into a hell of a lot of detail, so let me add some colour for you (not that I was ever particularly good at sticking within the lines).

 

If you don’t know much about Bellevue Hill, the Fin helpfully wrote up a suburb profile and didn’t hide it behind a paywall – free win! To summarise: approximately 5km east of the CBD; rich, rich, rich; non-waterfront; serious architectural cred; bastion of moneyed up business players (Lachlan Murdoch). Houses can fetch over $20m. If you have $20m, please get in contact with me via the ‘contact’ tab so I can provide you with my phone number.

 

 

The living room – above – is my favourite part of the house, particularly as it has city views, opens out onto the pool area and has a swanky bar – check, check, check. Another place that fulfils my house party fantasies. It’s sheer Art Deco goodness (especially the checkered flooring).

 

 

Someone with exquisite taste in both liquor and design owns this house. They can join my social circle any time. Perfect crisp white block colour with a mirrored background opening up the space and well-chosen cultured New Yorker prints amongst the bottles of Veuve. I managed to photograph it without getting my reflection in the shot, too, so let’s not discount my role in all this, ha!

 

 

At first I thought it was older, but I’m taking a punt and placing this stately home in the mid-century age range, which suits the profile of the suburb as well as the Art Deco features of the house. The owners have placed an emphasis on internal design, and I’m envious of the ubiquity of the views; you can see Sydney Tower (isn’t it called Centre Point? When did they change the name?) and Deutsche Bank Place from the dressing room. The dressing room. I’d be happy to have a dressing room, let alone a dressing room with city vistas.

 

 

One of the children’s single bedrooms has an en suite – my childhood dream. It also has an excellent, honeycomb-like window frame that I fell hard for.

 

 

And so we come to the main bedroom, with the famed dressing room and an epically large en suite. The main is well put together and perfectly positioned for the views.

 

 

 

 

It’s a good-sized family home with an extensive ground floor. And it has trimmings – serious trimmings. The library is my favourite of these. It might be fairly compact, but it’s a library, and I’ll be damned if I don’t want one just like it when I grow up and marry a director of a hedge fund.

 

 

I’ve run out of my amazingly witty and insightful comments, so I’ll leave you to gaze at the photos. You’ll probably find, like I did, that one of the best aspects of this home is the care that’s been taken to accessorise it and give it that ‘hidden gem’ feel; every room has something in it that pops and pulls you in.

 

 

Love this shot. So summery, even though we're stuck in the throes of winter.

van Buuren House, Brussels, Belgium, and other Belgian buildings

Van Buuren House

 

Okay, it’s been a while… But I moved, and changed jobs, and have done other things, so my diligence with the blog has slid a little.  But at least you haven’t waited for naught, because Belgium has some serious architecture. Unfortunately, it’s not always open. I trekked it to Villa Empain, the Art Deco masterpiece I had planned to see, to find it closed. So I got my kicks elsewhere.

 

This is as much as I got to see of Villa Empain. Thanks for the 'Open every day* *Except Monday' sign, guys!

 

Thankfully, the van Buuren Museum was open – another place that puts Bruxelles’ design nous on display. The house’s exteriors characterise the Amsterdam school of architecture, while the interiors are pure Art Deco goodness (the dining room had me swooning). The house was bought by a banker and his wife in the 1920s, who dubbed it a ‘private memory house’ and put it on public display upon their passing in the ’70s. It has an accompanying Alice in Wonderland-esque garden, too, if that’s your kind of thing (incidentally, the owner’s name was Alice van Buuren…).

 

I, of course, lost the accompanying notes discussing the house, which is a shrine to modernist design and serious art collection (various works by the Masters were donated by the van Buurens to museums worldwide). But the pictures are what you’re keen to see, right?

 

 

 

The garden is a pretty serious creation. Part Art Deco rose garden, part English picturesque, it has a real life maze, which, as you can imagine, amused this child. It now covers about 1.2 ha worth of land. The rose garden (which was apparently used for garden parties. I’d like a rose garden for my parties, thanks) was established prior to the house being built, and was designed by Jules Buyssens.  The picturesque garden, meanwhile, is accented by Japanese maple trees, a Japanese wild lemon tree (‘thorns of Christ’), and a wild Chinese apple tree.

 

 

Rene Pechere (my, what a French name you have!) designed the maze in 1968. It was created to mark the occasion of the Israeli Ambassador’s departure.

 

Whereas Berlin was all post-communist urbanism smashed up against grand old pre-war structures, Brussels was defined by being straight-up pretty, like a miniature Paris. It had an alternative vibe, but a safe one, and one of its quirkiest features was the odd piece of colourful street art that’d pop up around the place. Some of my favourite residential spots from roaming around the city are below.

 

 

The pink house!

 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

I am currently in Europe, and given half of what I do when travelling overseas is photograph architecture, I figured I should give you a sneak peek of the posts to come when I return. Among other exciting things, I’ve seen windmills. Windmills! In Holland! Bear in mind that I don’t have my laptop with me for uploading, so the photographs at the moment are iPhone based. I’ll upload my DSLR shots when I return, and hopefully interweave the pictures with some kind of commentary.

 

 

Playground.

 

 

110 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay

 

Usually I prefer to write about places I hunt out myself, but sometimes one is sent to me that I really like. This is one of those times. It’s a block of apartments up for sale in one of my favourite suburbs (as I’ve noted before), Elizabeth Bay. It’s on the harbour, it’s curvy, it’s strata-titled…All wins.

 

It contains four two-storey apartments, which is pretty contemporary for a block built in the early ’70s, although it sounds like some remodelling may have occurred, and is listed on the Australian Institute of Architects’ register of Significant Architecture in NSW.

 

 

The piece I was sent said it’s being marketed at around the $30 million mark (which figures) by Stuart Cox of Savills, who said “I doubt that an entire block of apartments in this prime location will become available again in my lifetime” and described it as a “trophy asset”.

 

May I please have this view?

 

This little article provides some perspective on the construction. The tower-like build was precipitated by the narrowness of the block (unsurprising in the area). Every floor has harbour views, and there’s basement parking for up to 12 cars, a serious boon in an area in which I have personally driven around for an hour without finding anywhere legal to park my car. It’s been thoroughly updated (as the pictures demonstrate) - both in terms of the individual apartments and the common areas – so the primary question is what the purchaser will do with the block. It’s an intriguing proposition.

 

 

185 Military Road, Dover Heights

 

Aren’t the curves kind of exquisite? This is a very cool architect-designed duplex that’s just been completed in Dover Heights. The couple who built the duplex – they’re keeping the back one and have auctioned the front one – have taken a seriously bespoke approach, which Dov (one half of said couple) led me through in detail. And as anyone who knows me is aware, I love details. They are some of my favourite things.

 

Dover Heights is a seaside eastern suburb. It’s nice and wealthy, hob-knobbing with Rose Bay. All you have to do is follow the adjacent street from this house to its end and bam! Ocean.

 

The couple picked the suburb as Dov’s wife grew up there and the property was already in the family. “Her father bought the house in ’65. The original house was built in the late ’20s… it was a teardown.” But, and you know I always appreciate this, certain features from the original site have been maintained, including the sandstone used for the fence. There is probably no building material I find prettier than sandstone, as an aside.

 

It took a year to design and get council approval for, a year for the bank to approve the loan as Dov is originally from the US, a year to find the perfect builder and around two years to build. “We’ve never built anything before, we never want to do it again, so we wanted everything to be just right,” Dov said. It’s a good philosophy. Renovations are infamously painful, so ensuring every detail is as close to how it should be as possible is a good aim (budget allowing…the main thing that seems to trip people up, from my knowledge, is the budget. However, Dov and his wife did something clever by building a duplex in order to recoup some of the costs of building by selling off the front property. They also went to the trouble of building separate driveways so there’ll never be any inconvenient, messy garage spats – score! As someone who once had a guy try to pull her out of her car in a parking related argument, that is a massive plus).

 

The thing that’s most impressive about this place – aside from the visual effect of the curves, because they’re hard to beat. They give the home a Modernist vibe, and curved facades tend to age better – is how much thought went into sourcing everything. ”Everything’s been individually sourced. Just the windows [as an example], we spent forever shopping for windows, and windows are really expensive in Australia.” My very witty rejoinder was “Everything is really expensive in Australia.” But I guess that isn’t so much a rejoinder as a statement of fact.

 

Dov’s business imports goods from Bali, and the couple travelled over there six times in twelve months to source various products for the home, including fossilised wood, the solid wood floorboards and the super pretty marble basins and teak vanities in the bathrooms. Both the laundry and en suite are hidden, which I always consider a nice touch (nothing like an element of surprise!).

 

The design is intelligent, too, not just visually impressive. Aluminium was used for the gates instead of wood, for instance. ”In this neighbourhood, anything with wood is a disaster. It just rots,” due to the sea breeze. I can vouch for this as someone who grew up by the beach lamenting the fact that my guitar strings rusted almost instantly and my cover of Metal Box by Public Image Limited was ruined.

 

The living area expands out to the yard, creating an indoor-outdoor entertaining space. This layout reminded me of an article published in Domain recently about the value art can add in homes, which is something demonstrated in the house at the moment as it’s been dressed for sale and some eye-catching paintings and sculptures are acting as focal points in the communal zones, which is good to drive conversation. An open living area benefits from something striking (maybe I’m influenced by the Brett Whiteley print my parents had hanging in our upstairs living room, because I love that thing) – this website has a good mix of prints if you’re looking for something interesting (I find this one amazing but I am, let’s say, ‘quirky’).

 

So this property is an interesting one; unique down to the core due to the time the couple has dedicated to ensuring that the detailed work is done well, nicely located near the beach with city views in one of the east’s most covetable postcodes, and, most importantly, beset with some serious curb appeal.

 

One of the upstairs bathrooms has city skyline views, so the couple cleverly used frosted glass down the bottom so you can keep your modesty and clear glass up the top so you can ogle the view while you thank god that you have enough money to live in such a lovely spot.

 

 

The preserved sandstone.

 

It might seem weird to wax lyrical about a basin, but isn't this one incredibly pretty?

 

The en suite bath! Impossible not to want.