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

14 Wolaroi Crescent, Tamarama

 

I don’t usually use a non-house shot as the lead but I mean…c’mon. It’s a helluva view. This place is on a particularly private little street in Tamarama, perched above the beach with jaw-dropping views from each level. And there be a number of levels.

 

Tamarama, as I’m sure you know, is one of Sydney’s most highly sought after beaches. It’s a jewel in the east’s crown. It and Bronte, which is right next door. As an aside, something I noticed when I was there to photograph this house is there is a disproportionately high amount of very attractive men there on Saturday mornings. I feel like that’s important to note.

 

 

It’s a classic ‘Sydney eastern beaches’ beach house, by which I mean it’s big, built to capitalise on the views, and perfect to party in. Glamorous, is what I’m getting at (I’ve veered away from calling it Glamorama but…oops, there I go). It was rebuilt a decade ago and is now designed in a vertical fashion with wide open spaces and expanses of glass. The vistas are the focal point, and the architecture complements that. White features heavily, which is ideal in a place built for the sun and sand.

 

It feels like summer when you walk in, basically, and that appeals to me as I hate winter and am desperately waiting for its end. It’s also on the market. If you buy it, please invite me to the housewarming. I’ll bring cheap wine. My usual.

 

 

 

I love this bathroom. The exposed brick was covered in the rest of the house but kept in the main en suite, which gives it a bit of an edgy Brooklyn feel…yep, that's a thing.

 

 

 

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!

 

The Cube House, Rotterdam, Netherlands

 

I’m excited about writing this post because it’s on The Cube House (‘Kubuswoningen’), a post-war piece of dynamite architecture by Piet Blom that is just perfectly weird. It’s an important piece of Netherlands’ rebuilding after WW2, and it reminds me of my time in Rotterdam – so, hey, wins all round.

 

 

The Cube House is part of a housing project in Oude Haven. The point was that Rotterdam has essentially been flattened in the war, and Blom wanted to construct a style of housing that had resonance and purpose. The Cube House was part of that framework, as was the neighbouring set of apartment blocks (pictured below). The apartments each had a balcony overlooking the harbour, and the area was designed with outdoor cafes and bars facing the sun in order to create a Mediterranean, outdoor summer livin’ vibe. This seemed to be working even when I was there, as there were plenty of people out on their balconies and down at the restaurants enjoying a drink. I, on the other hand, was freezing, so perhaps the design wouldn’t suit someone with my intense sensitivity towards temperatures under 22 degrees celcius.

 

 

 

Due to its past, Rotterdam doesn’t boast the pretty, seventeenth century consistency of Amsterdam. It prides itself instead on divisive contemporary architecture. Some of it is confronting (because you don’t see it anywhere else, and that usually gives people pause), but it’s always worth looking at. It should be noted that Rotterdam still has pretty pockets of beautiful old houses lined up near the water, so it hasn’t lost all its old charm.

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

I journeyed to Europe recently. And the architecture there is bangin’. Pretty much all of my travel photos are of buildings (surprise, surprise) – and here they are, for your viewing pleasure. I hit up Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin and Brussels, and will be featuring a post on each, so hopefully you’re keen to scope out some more international posts. One of the defining aspects of Amsterdam is the fact that it boasts both seventeenth century and contemporary architecture of significance – it’s a place where design is cared about and preserved, especially given it’s such a tourist draw. Some of its prominent buildings were listed in the Arch Daily article I linked to in the previous sentence (and I’ve featured some of those here), but I loved the fact that every street was pretty in Amsterdam.

 

 

Buildings that are rare/non-existent in Australia (centuries old, grand, stately) are ubiquitous in Amsterdam, which was my first stop. It’s all pretty buildings and canals (developed in the 17th century) and bicycles. … And ‘coffee shops’. And windmills! The streets in Centrum and the surrounding inner-city neighbourhoods like Jordaan and Westerpark are lined with storeys-tall terraces. Interestingly, when I got the chance to peer in one (like the stalker I am), I noticed (and this is obviously anecdotal) that the Dutch appear to put a significant amount of effort into interior design, which warms the cockles of my heart.

 

 

Now, while I was there, I inevitably thought to myself ‘I wonder how much a place here goes for…?’ Bit dated now, but the New York Times did a nifty (very well titled!) article on house hunting in the city mid-last year. Here you go. Some quick points – difficult to buy a house (rather than an apartment), the ones that are available are dear/exclusive, it’s fairly reasonably priced for a European city with stagnating values of late, and prices vary from $200k – $6m+. Parking is a rare commodity…coming from Sydney’s inner-east, I can only empathise.

 

 

 

The metro.

 

Metro.

 

I'm not totally sure what this is…but I liked it.

 

 

ARCAM.

 

I also visited Rembrandt House, which was constructed at the beginning of the seventeenth century and is now kind of anachronistic as it sits on what appeared to be one of Amsterdam’s most updated/modern inner-city streets. But no matter, it’s still cool. Especially the beds (see below). Rembrandt was, of course, in case anyone needs the background, a Dutch painter considered one of the ‘greats’. I’m not going to take you through all the details because that link above shares a fair bit of information and, hey, you may want to visit it, but I will say that he ended up losing the house as he couldn’t make the mortgage payments and moving into rented accommodation. Quite a modern type of downfall. He was earning a good living as a successful artist, but the saying is ‘more money, more problems’, right? (I personally find that ‘less money, more problems’ rings true for me, though.)

 

Rembrandt House.

 

Rembrandt House.

 

And I’ll leave you with this one, because I also love (g00d) street art: