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: Art Deco

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!

 

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.

 

 

58/117 Macleay Street, Potts Point

This apartment doesn’t have just the one drawcard – it has a whole collection of them. If you look to your right, you’ll instantly notice one of them – the design. Which leads on to another one of its highlights; the apartment was designed by Darren Palmer, noted Australian designer who’s appeared in pretty much every design editorial, a host of television spots and more than a few newspaper clippings.

 

Before broaching the apartment’s story – which is one of my favourite parts of this post – I’ll take you through the most important aspects of the reconfiguration. The layout has been completely changed in order to incorporate storage. Functionality was the key element Palmer was seeking in the renovation, he notes. The bathroom and laundry are both hidden behind slick doors that reflect the city lights; opening them gives the magical impression that you’ve been invited into a secret room. “It’s just storage from nowhere,” Palmer says, which perfectly summarises the concept of the apartment. There are hidden nooks and crannies everywhere intended to eliminate the thing that can often destroy good design – clutter.

 

The wooden floorboards (a feature that I’ve regularly expressed my love for on the blog) are used across the entire apartment, including the bathroom, which has been converted into a ‘rain room’ of sorts. The apartment offers multiple aspects, providing a natural element that further enhances the apartment’s appeal – light.

 

The apartment is unique for another reason; it is Darren Palmer’s own. Unlike his other projects, he was physically involved with each aspect of the remodelling. “I put a lot of skin and blood into this, literally,” he says. “It turned out exactly the way I planned it.”

 

The apartment was configured as a bachelor’s pad for Palmer, but that plan was foiled when he got married partway through the renovation. “I never even slept here [after the renovation],” he admits. His article for GQ delves deeper into the story (my favourite quote is the lead: “Life’s a funny bitch sometimes”).

 

The apartment is on the market for offers over $525,000, so if you’re looking for the quintessential Potts Point home – incredibly well-maintained Art Deco building (seriously, I’ve been in my fair share of old dames and this one leaves most of them in the dust – the elevator alone is worth checking out), stunning new look with plentiful natural light, views of the city skyline and a spot that provides instant access to Macleay Street’s dining/shopping hub and the infamous strip – check it out. Plus Croissant D’Or is virtually its neighbour, and that bakery is amazing.

 

Sleek new kitchen.

 

8 Braeside Street, Wahroonga

 

As you’ve probably noticed, I admire many different housing styles. When it comes to large character houses in particular, there are some suburbs in Sydney that inspire a particular kind of jealousy in me. They have the type of houses that make me wish I weren’t quite so poor. One of those suburbs is Mosman. And* one of them is Mosman’s northern cousin Wahroonga (is it weird that I look at those suburbs as cousins? Probably. I look at Waverton and Wollstonecraft as close relatives too, but that makes more sense), where the houses are big, and so are the land sizes.

 

 

 

This house is on Braeside Street, which in real estate circles is pretty prized as it has nice houses and follows the upper north shore prestige rules (east side, walk to rail). So that’s good. But the house itself is interesting. Wahroonga’s biggest and best are usually Federations, but this one is an Art Deco (it’s made very obvious by the curved walls).

 

 

 

It’s unrenovated (which is a yay from me, from an ogling point of view). It’s in very sturdy condition, though, so in contrast to the Cremorne duplex it’s an exercise in observing the original features of the house, rather than admiring it as a ruinous artefact. I am excited by these original features. You’re about to see why.

 

 

The bathrooms! Sweet Jesus, these bathrooms are amazing. Is there even anything for me to say about them? They are colour and pattern and Vogue Living from a bygone era. Yes, yes, yes.

 

 

The study is in such good condition that it doesn’t really require any work, and I could say the same about the downstairs sunroom. The fairly excellent bedroom wallpaper will be stripped, and I’d say the upper floor will be reconfigured to add an en suite. Interestingly, the main has a powder room with a shower, but not an en suite, as such.

 

Powder room.

 

The quirkiness in this place will most likely be eradicated by the inevitable renovation, but, that said, it will then (given the right renovator) be restored into a commanding character home with good-condition features, so there’s a lot to gain.

 

 

 

 

* I am aware of the rule against starting a sentence with ‘and’ (or ‘but’). To paraphrase Jackie Chiles, I’m flouting society’s conventions.