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: property

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.

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:

 

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.

 

 

Various, Singapore

 

Singapore! Colonial Victorian terraces, cutting edge modern-day architecture, quirky high-rise public housing blocks…it has it all.

 

This is my first international post (well, aside from a post I did on UK tiny houses, but I didn’t actually visit the UK for that post), which makes me pretty excited. It also marks the first time I’ve been overseas since I visited Hong Kong in 2011, which was way too long a gap.

 

I schlepped through the streets of Chinatown and Little India, where I found the types of places that particularly interest me; historically rich, colourful, character places stacked on tightly packed, buzzing streets. You realise pretty quickly that Singapore is serious about architecture and design. It’s evident in landmarks like the Art + Science Museum and Singapore Art Museum (by the way, the plethora of museums and galleries is also indicative of this national interest in design I’m describing), and also in the homes lining the sides of the road. Singapore just looks nice.

 

It’s a small place with a large population, a financial hub with huge port facilities and a magnet for business. It makes money. It’s also expensive; probably the only place I’ve visited that seems on par/dearer than Sydney.

 

Air-conditioning is serious business in Singapore.

 

Interestingly, it has a kind of similar residential real estate profile to Australia, with speculation of a housing bubble and predictions that the value of property will decrease 10-15%. Unlike Australia, and placing it in a similar basket to Hong Kong, a large segment of the population lives in government-subsidised housing; Wallpaper‘s travel guide pegs the figure at 82%.

 

 

In love with these stairs.

 

Singapore has an interesting feel about it. It’s generally considered the gateway into Asia, and I can understand that perspective. It’s culturally between Sydney and Hong Kong; diverse enough to keep your interest but similar enough that there isn’t a great degree of culture shock. The combination of different cultural influences in Singapore’s national identity is appealing; it’s kind of a bricolage of different conventions and ideas that have come together to form something holistic. I’m trying to avoid the use of the term ‘melting pot’, given that’s such a corny phrase…oh look, I just used it.

 

One of my favourite districts is Chinatown. It has a certain whimsy that other global Chinatowns – from Sydney to San Francisco – don’t seem to capture quite as well, plus the neatness that Singapore is characterised by. Along with pockets of Victorian housing and boutique hotels, Singapore’s Chinatown is spotted by little eathouses – eating is a serious item on the national agenda. If you ask Singaporeans what you should do while you’re there, I can guarantee you they’ll recommend you sample some hometown cuisine. (How silly will I look if you do ask a Singaporean question and they don’t mention food at all?)

 

Little India is very distinct from Chinatown, adopting the profile of its namesake and bursting out with colourful shopfronts and cheap little hideaway restaurants. I really wanted to sample the sweet treats because they looked amazing with their pretty pinks and gold foils, but there was a pigeon running through the shop and my OCD brain immediately shut down the idea. Damn it. I must try these mysterious sweets at some point. Feel free to hook me up if you have a good suggestion in Sydney. I, in return, can provide you with a list of about 50 bakeries I am obsessed with. But they’ll probably hurt your back pocket. And your scales.

 

 

Given my sensitivity to the cold, the heat in Singapore is something I relished. Pretty much nothing excites me more than the prospect of trekking around in 30 degree temperatures looking at interesting buildings, with the prospect of good food and decent shopping in a clean environment afterwards. So in that regard, Singapore is one of my favourite places. It caters to me almost as though it knows me. Also, Singapore Art Museum introduced me to a piece of work so fantastic that I cannot stop talking about it – ‘Superbarbara Saving the World’. Check it.

 

 

I haven’t focused on the CBD architecture here, and could dedicate an entire extra post to it. The financial district (and woah, what a financial district – virtually every big name in the banking world has an office in Singapore) is full of clean lines and impressive contemporary skyscrapers, with the skyline dominated by the Art + Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer. The country is a melding of old and new, with the CBD taking its cues from cutting edge modernity and the residential districts divided between colonial British influences and eye-catching high density blocks that dominate some streetscapes.

 

Chinatown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinatown

 

Little India. Such colour.

 

High density living. Public housing flats. Rochor Centre. Built in 1977. It's set to be demolished.

 

CBD.

 

Where we stayed. Oh yeah.

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.