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

Penthouse, “Princeton”, 282 New South Head Road, Double Bay

Of all of the homes I've visited, this is possibly my favourite room.

Name any stimulant. Chances are, its strength is, at best, on par with my level of hyperactivity this evening. So I thought I should channel all that random energy into a blog post. Plus, I was excited about posting this penthouse up; it’s a masterpiece, for one, and a significant piece of real estate, for another. The Canberra Times unfortunately beat me to it, but that’s because this is a landmark with inimitable style. It was owned by the late Leslie Walford (some details here), one of the nation’s foremost interior designers (I highly recommend reading that Vogue Living blog post, particularly as it features excellent examples of Walford’s work). This is a proper penthouse (with almost 500 sqm total space) atop a large, exquisitely maintained Art Deco complex.

 

The apartment has both design cachet and location going for it. Double Bay is one of the gems in Sydney’s eastern crown, so to speak. My dad’s one of the people who’s fond of calling the suburb ‘Double Pay’ (according to Wikipedia, this nickname is now rarely used, but that doesn’t reflect my experience!). So, it’s at the top of the wealthy set’s hit list. It’s a harbourside suburb that’s always been blue ribbon. Some of its grand Gothic Revival houses have been converted into apartment complexes – you can decide whether that’s a positive or negative (arguments could go either way).

 

This apartment has the feel of a house due to its size – it occupies the entire top floor of the building (as a proper penthouse should) and boasts 219 sqm internal space and 279 sqm worth of terraces. You’re drawn out onto the terrace as soon as you walk into the apartment (particularly on the kind of day I visited, which was sunny/amazing); it’s the best vantage point for the harbour views, which are another highlight. The external space is very impressive as it’s so large. Separate terraces wrap around the apartment, providing distinct entertaining areas and multiple views.

 

The terraces are reached through French doors from the apartment’s primary living area. This zone of the penthouse (incredibly light due to the French doors) has a foyer, living area to the right and incredible formal dining room (seen above) to the left. The dining room has a ceiling mosaic and coordinated silk walls and curtains (I don’t mean to gush, but they’re seriously gorgeous). The living area has an impressive fireplace, high ceilings and timber floorboards.

 

Apart from its sheer size, another factor in making this apartment feel house-like is its layout. It has two hallways, two living rooms, three bedrooms plus a study/fourth bedroom and three bathrooms. There are also two car spaces and additional storage. The second living area leads out onto a separate terrace, which means there are multiple areas of the home that can be used to relax in. This is pretty central to family living, and it’s what makes this place particularly amenable to a family set-up.

 

The rooms are decorated in the Walford style, and I sincerely hope that this doesn’t change. The study/fourth bedroom, in particular, is a masterstroke (from my perspective); coordinated pink wallpaper on the walls and ceilings, in addition to the curtains, bookshelf and bedspread. It might seem over-the-top, but that’s exactly why it works, in my mind.

 

 

One of the other bedrooms – currently organised as a study – is designed in similar fashion, with more serious blues replacing the pretty pinks of the fourth bedroom.

 

The blue room.

 

The bathrooms are all fairly modern, and the galley kitchen is serviceable with a nice outlook. The only unfortunate point I can pick up on doesn’t relate to the apartment itself, but the fact that I’m sure some prospective buyers (the apartment is on the market with co-agents at what I consider to be a reasonable price) would be looking at renovations. I personally would leave it exactly as is. It’s the charm combined with its views that make it such a stunner.

 

Fireplace in the formal living room.

 

 

Wardrobes in the master bedroom.

 

 

The pink room.

 

 

Hallways give the apartment discrete spaces.

 

Second living area.

 

 

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.

 

 

Joanna Lamb: 15 Colour Series

 

You may have noticed earlier that I’m not just keen on architecture – I am also keen on art about architecture. (That’s how far out and expansive my taste is.) This was probably made clear with one of my absolute favourite posts (seriously, I love it – you should definitely take a look because you’re pretty much guaranteed to like it), which featured Anna Carey’s photographs of the incredibly awesome house models she makes from her memories of Gold Coast beach shacks and hotels.

 

So I was excited when I found out about Joanna Lamb’s latest exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf. It’s a series that focuses on interiors, juxtaposing them with vibrant colour. I did a brief Q&A with the Perth-based artist below.

 

I particularly love this piece.

 

How would you describe your latest exhibition at Sullivan + Strumpf?
My latest exhibition at Sullivan+Strumpf is a series of works that deal with domestic interiors and exteriors. There are a number of paintings, a series of 10 works made from lasercut laminex and a neon and aluminium piece. All the works use a restricted palette of the same fifteen colours.

 

What brought about your interest in incorporating representations of architecture into your art?

I have been painting urban and suburban imagery since I was at art school. I am drawn to its abstract qualities of form, space and colour. I was brought up in the suburbs of Perth. It’s where I live now so in that sense it is what I am able to comment on the most honestly.

 

How did you link the architectural concepts in your pieces with the vivid colour choices?

The colour choice was made first. The fifteen colours chosen were derived through an intuitive process in which I considered colour contrast and tonal value to most effectively suggest multiple spatial scenarios. Using these colours only I then manipulated different compositions until they made sense visually. The architectural imagery was used to show off the possibilities of using this set palette. I have often used some kind of system to direct my work.

 

What do you hope the audience takes away from the series?

It was important the works were seen together to understand the idea behind it. The works definitely work as separate objects but have more impact when viewed together. There is one particular work - an image of a pool painted directly onto the wall of the gallery - which, because of its size and lack of an edge, makes the viewer part of the piece. Maybe it’s a concept suburb; one which you might not want to live in permanently, but it’s an interesting place to visit.

 

Can you describe the process that goes into creating a piece?

Most pieces are based on photos I have taken of places I know or images found on real estate sites on the internet. I create initial drawings on the computer which can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks.

 

Are you working on any new projects at the moment?
I am working on several ideas at the moment which may form the basis of works for upcoming solo shows over the next year and a half.

 

Has your approach to art and design changed significantly since you started out in the industry?
My approach to art has changed significantly since I started out. The computer as a tool is now an integral part of my practice after coming to it quite reluctantly after studying graphic design. Also the influence of advertising and graphic design imagery and print and electronic media processes have infiltrated my work very significantly since working in the design industry.

 

 

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.