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

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.

20 Wunulla Road, Point Piper

 

There is no suburb in Sydney as synonymous with wealth as Point Piper. It’s a small suburb – eleven streets in total – wedged next to Rose Bay in the east with views over it and the harbour. It’s home to the country’s richest residents, including Malcolm Turnbull (Australia’s best politician, surely, with a background that spans over entrepreneurship, law and investment banking…but I’m sure you already know that).

 

Before I delve in to the suburb and the house, I need to make note of the fact that this place’s kitchen has the most amazing tiles I’ve ever seen. I am still tempted to go back there, crowbar them off and run away with them. I hope no one actually does that now, because that would be super awkward now that I’ve written this. They feature different types of liquor bottles. It makes for a great point of interest. It’s also probably popular with guests keen on a drink.

 

What makes this house so fascinating is that it offers everything a buyer looking in the suburb would want – a vast Federation with gorgeous character features in place (the fireplaces are particularly special, and seem to be in immaculate condition), bay views, a sizeable block and double street frontage - but goes beyond that by being quirky. It’s reminiscent of the mansion featured in my favourite Mulberry ad campaign; whimsical, grand, ageing, fantastical. That’s mostly due to the taste of the owners, who appear to have made the mansion into the ultimate party house. I can’t think of a better approach.

 

So what makes me want to have my birthday party here? (And yes, I did ask the owner if I could, but since it’s in February and this one’s on the market, that’s unlikely to get the go ahead.) There’s a lap pool with giant inflatable swans on it, for starters, along with a cabana, a bar and a Heineken umbrella and matching drinks table.

 

Love.

 

The house is not heritage listed, but I’m hopeful that someone who would pay over $7 million for such an exquisite house would retain it and choose to renovate rather than bulldozing the thing. Although the house hasn’t been updated (part of its charm from my perspective, as always), it has a number of defining features in superb condition that would make the refurbishment easier. There are five marble fireplaces and one wooden one that are all looking perfect, a kauri pine staircase, leadlight windows, a butler’s bell (chances are if you can afford to purchase this place, you’ll need a butler’s bell), and a sauna.

 

The bathrooms are one of my favourite aspects of the house. The one featured in the post below in particular is perfect; a bright, consistent colour, speckled mirror, tiny tiles. It’s my idea of faded grandeur.

 

I’d be  very curious to find out what happens to this one once it’s been bought. I’m confident it’ll lose its status as a party house. There’s really only one question to answer: will it become a stunning family home, or a development site?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of life’s best elixirs.

 

49 Great Buckingham Street, Redfern

So this one is really half a house, which is what made me so interested in it. There’s a fantastic sense of eeriness about it – particularly in the contrast between the still semi-intact front rooms and the construction site behind. It’s a grand Victorian terrace frontage in one of Redfern’s best streets that’s had the back stripped off it in order to rebuild, but the owners changed their minds and decided to exit, leaving an unusual proposition for redevelopers and owner-occupiers looking to build a home they can customise.

 

There’s something a little overpowering about standing in a shell of a room – exposed brick walls, the works – looking out at the bare bones of the structure while standing underneath an ornate ceiling with its light setting still attached. It reminds you of what it once was.

 

A little context to the area. This gem is in Redfern’s most coveted pocket, right near the park and rubbing shoulders with Surry Hills (a spot that agents sometimes call ‘Redfern East’. NB: no such suburb exists. Maybe it should, to be fair, because the suburb is pretty diverse). The street is leafy and wide. It’s very clean-safe-inner-city-living. As someone who spent three years in Alexandria, I can say with confidence that Redfern is a suburb with many faces. This is its wealthiest. It’s not an up-and-coming part; it’s well and truly there already. We’re talking low-mid seven figures for an entry level terrace.

 

David Servi, the listing agent, noted that it’s difficult to ascertain value here given the nature of the offering. “You’ve got to work back from what you think the finished product will be worth,” he said. It’s being auctioned on 2 November – I just realised I can’t make it, which is unfortunate as I’d love to see how the bidding progresses and what this one ends up being priced at.

 

I thought you might be interested in seeing what it once was, and luckily the sold listing is still up.

 

Redfern has (unsurprisingly to anyone who’s been interested in the inner-city market over the past decade or so) been increasingly positioned as a sub-set of the Surry lifestyle; it contains my favourite diner (Milk Bar by Cafe Ish – they have malteser pie and rosewater milkshakes. Unbeatable) hole-in-the-wall cafes (Nookie) and small bars (The Dock, amongst others). If you’re priced out of the east side and are looking at how to enter the market here as affordably as possible, you’ll probably have to start looking a bit further south, because even The Block has started to exceed the $800k mark. Darlington’s seen its median jump over that point, too. Waterloo still has a median in the low $700k zone, and has one of the inner-south’s best eating and design strips (Danks Street, everyone’s perennial favourite). It also offers easy access to the eastern suburbs and a pretty simple commute to the city. The only thing to be wary of is the tract of high-density apartment blocks that have sprouted up there over the past decade, and the suicide towers, which can be a little spooky.

 

 

Various – Elizabeth Bay, Darlinghurst, Rushcutters Bay

Something about this Darlinghurst terrace took me back to Paul Bowles novels and the UAE. I think it's the colours; they're reminiscent of the desert, dryness, years of sun.

Okay, this is another mini-post. I promise my next one will be exploring a house in depth. The upside is, it takes you through Elizabeth Bay – one of my absolute favourite suburbs. I always feel good when I’m there. It manages to be close to everything cool while also retaining an affluent, serene vibe, which puts it in direct contrast to its rowdy neighbour, Potts Point. It has kooky little corner stores that have been there for decades and make amazing bacon and egg rolls. There are views of the harbour. It’s lined with old, company title apartment blocks stacked full of people paying a premium to live in one of Sydney’s nicest and most convenient spots. And you can stumble over to Gazebo, Fratelli Paradiso and a host of other awesome places with minimal fuss.

 

These photos were taken in Darlinghurst through to Elizabeth Bay. The terrace photos are from the Darlinghurst side; the character apartments are in Lizzy Bay. There aren’t many houses there, although I did blog about one pretty notable one in the past.

 

The contrast between Elizabeth Bay and the Cross, which is mere footsteps away, is remarkable. Those who live in the precinct know that the undesirable aspects of the Cross are localised in a particular zone. Elizabeth Bay seems to avoid all of the trouble, which means its residents are able to enjoy the various delights of one of Sydney’s primary dining/drinking districts while also getting to live somewhere that’s just plain special.

 

So enjoy the pictures. I’d regale you with more property information, but this post is really just about enjoying what you see, since that’s what I was doing when I took the snaps.

 

 

 

Darlinghurst alleys.

 

 

One of Seidler's buildings, Aquarius.

 

 

 

 

Possibly my favourite apartment block in the world.

 

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.