Perhaps it’s frustration with my old favourite TV show, The Block, which this season is so bad, I don’t even record it anymore. There’s nothing innovative; no plans afoot that make me so curious I have to see how it turns out … just bullshit and drama, and no product information beyond endless sponsor plugs.
I know ‘out there’ ideas that need to be seen. Decorating, interior design, is an art form, it’s a gigantic palette waiting for daubs of character and passion. Some people are Kandinsky, or Warhol, or Banksy, or Monet or Manet or whatever. Not everyone likes everything, but art causes a reaction. Has an impact. Wakes you up. Makes you think.
Extreme developers, which are mostly found in Melbourne it seems to me, are not afraid to venture into into the wild lands of being non-bland.
You may crave a country kitchen, with dented wood and a soothing Aga.
You may enjoy a kitchen where all the accoutrement are hidden, just as a magician makes their assistant disappear.
You may fear lemon juice for fear of staining your carefully crafted concrete island .
But your kitchen, is your home.
Here is an example of breathtaking design, beautiful and overtly open, filled with ocean breezes and sunlight. Sigh. At the time of writing it is on the books of Sydney Sotheby’s International Realty in Double Bay (now there’s a mouthful for a story about kitchens). It’s in Sydney’s coastal Bronte, and you can read all the nuts and bolts on the listing, and let me assure you, they are GORGEOUS nuts and bolts.
But this is an homage to the wonders of kitchens.
Here are the things I love about kitchens, and I have been lucky enough to inspect some of the most amazing kitchens in Australia, and lingered in more than a few of my family’s.
A kitchen is where somehow or other, you can turn love into a quiche, or a roast or a souffle.
In a kitchen a broken heart can be stuck back together – at least for a while.
In a kitchen a furry friend with a wet nose lingers with hope in his eyes, and a slowly wagging tail.
In a kitchen you can talk about difficult things without having to make eye contact, while plaiting pastry over a pie shell.
In a kitchen you can gather more than ingredients, you can bring together the people you love, and bask in the joy of sharing love, food, wine and time, while a plate of goodies is devoured, refilled, and devoured once again.
In a kitchen a stolen kiss tastes even more delicious.
In a kitchen, for some reason, it is easier to laugh about disaster – whether it be wimpy red wine jus, or a lost job.
And finally, kids in the kitchen. I don’t care about mess, I never really have, and there is no greater mess than a kitchen full of kids; your kids, the next door neighbours’ kids, kids from school mooching about for a piece of cake, kids with breathless news and whispered secrets. It happened in my kitchen. The heart of my home.
Okay so maybe lockdown lunacy is getting to me but homes with space, room, fresh air, nature well, they are really appealing right now.
And this one, this fab home near Newcastle in NSW has managed to deliver up the ideal mix of ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, with the out being just GORGEOUS.
Sure decks and patios and terraces are nothing new – but so often those outside spaces have ceilings that are appallingly low – they make you feel like a cheese and ham croissant squashed into a sandwich toaster.
However the very clever folks at Anthrocite Architects in NSW have created the most spacious, open outside zone, that there is an almost cathedral-esque feel, worshipping the two and a half acres of grassy, sunny, leafy land upon which is resides.
That sentence ran on a bit – but I’m all gushy about this place; from the perfect brick choice, to the heated floors, the exciting shapes and levels. It’s a great property from every perceivable angle.
Near the coast, not far from Newcastle city and a couple of hours to Sydneyh, it is a great spot to enjoy life. At the time of writing the property if for sale through Walkom Real Estate with a guide price on it of between $AUD 3.9-$4.2m
Queensland is spoiled. It has great weather, great beaches, an easy lifestyle and increasingly, more and more fabulous homes.
The HIA CSR Awards were just this week (or so, I do lose track at the moment) and this BJ Millar constructed / Justin Humphrey (with substantial inspiration from the home owner) designed Sanctuary Cove property took out the blue ribbon 2020 Home of the Year for The Cove House.
Organic by design, with timber, rock and slate all featured in the specs the waterside property has also not shied away from lashings of black. Gorgeous.
Confused much? It’s never been this cra cra in the real estate world, and I’ve been playing in the field for more years than I care to mention (okay, a decade or two … I don’t even want to add it all up because I haven’t had a botox top-up since Covid hit and I look my age).
There is still strong vendor discounting to be found (i.e. Unsure sellers and taking lower than advertised offers seriously) in the mid market, while the pointy end of the game is actually looking very healthy indeed. Luxury developer Crown Group is reported to have sold a staggering $63 million worth of top drawer properties between Feb and March.
I thought perhaps I might do some digging in the rich garden of the weekly listings to see what would interest me, or horrify me if I were in the market.
With any luck, although you will come out just as confused as when you started, you may have discovered some interesting bits and pieces.
Let’s start with a little gentrified luxury in the form of shady verandas and a gate house (!) at Kin Kin, Queensland. For those without an encyclopaedic knowledge of regional Queensland, let’s just say Noosa adjacent.
Eight bedrooms, lots of bathrooms, tastefully renovated plus a self contained, ever so pretty, studio.
They’re looking for $2.3million – through Ray White
I have long dreamt of having a place in Leura, the prettiest village in the Blue Mountains. It’s always worth a look there as the prices have this huge arc, yet you get the same picturesque village atmosphere no mater where you plonk your bags.
The lovely property in designer grey (I’m am becoming very sick of grey let me tell you) is a beauty which is looking for more than $1.28m. In a semi-main street at 170 Megalong it has four bedrooms and rather unusually for the area three bathrooms – but why you ask? Because there is studio/loft space above the back garden garage. The listing is with Belle Property.
Literally just up the road five minutes and there is this diamond in the rough for over $595-$650k. Whaaaat? Four beds three baths and and some pretty ordinary decor, complimented by dated layout BUT all that can be fixed. The block is huge – and there’s even a (sort of) undercover swimming pool. Wentworth Falls has some fabulous properties, and some not so fabulous properties with great potential. This is one of those. Have a squizz at 11 Page Avenue, it’s listed with Purcell.
In Melbourne and I just stopped dead in my tracks when I came across this over the top number, at 6 Boston Road. Lordy. When enough just isn’t enough – and why stop there? Architect designed – and with very cool Jack Merlot designed gardens, this 2005 built property is the current Wow! factor in a suburb that frequently has hot properties. William Chen at Marshall White has the listing.
There are still too many faux chateaus for my liking around Melbourne, but at the same time, so much really great eye candy as well. Kay & Burton have this one – very sleek. Found at 11 Reid Street, it’s all about the space … and the calm. Understated. Too chilled for me – but I am becoming more eclectic in my doteage.
And a little Hollywood one caught my attention – because I have been there! Well, loitered on the lawn actually during my time as an LA resident a few years back.
This was the original Ozzie & Harriet house from the 50s TV show (what they would have thought of as a reality show, but was of course scripted’ish) – and since then (though it is reported to be haunted by Ozzie who died in the house) it has had several high profile owners, including the current vendor Chris Meloni of LAW & ORDER (though I loved him in VEEP too) fame.
It’s looking for $USD6.5m, and sadly is not being rushed with offers. It IS a little pedestrian but, BUT it is Hollywood history, with a nice lawn.
One more before I go – I delved into my file (yes, I actually do have a file) of alarming real estate shots – it’s just my opinion, so don’t sue me. Some people may find this bathroom wonderful. I dare you to find them.
“Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
The wonder dog and I hit the road this week, for a property inspection in NSW Southern Highlands. The pics on line had grabbed my attention, and while my column in the Saturday Telegraph is more often than not about Dream Homes of a certain style, 542 Moss Vale Road pretty much crossed those boundaries. But I cared not one tit. It looked delicious, rich, lavish and more to the point, interesting.
The floorplan is single level, but the decor is another level all together. Murals, amazing murals, which the agent estimates would cost a million dollars to replicate, illuminate spaces – the dining room?
The design of this room could only encourage the most retiring guest to add full throated opinion to discussion, adding to the enjoyment of lucky guests seated around a large and inviting table.
The living areas are more salons than rooms – the furnishings (much of which may be negotiated as part of the sale) are silk and brocade and guilt and perfect for these most wonderful spaces.
What I wouldn’t give to have been lucky enough to have attended a big ‘do’ here as a guest of the former owner who I am reliably told just loved to have folks over.
The pictures tell so much of the story – I mean look at that Teppenayaki kitchen/dining bar, it opens onto the INDOOR POOL!
The master bedroom, a study in pink, includes a sunlit sitting area, and measures a staggering 50sqm. The word ‘palatial’ came to mind again, but I may have been influenced by all the guilt furniture. The ensuite does not exceed expectations despite columns around the sunken bath, a flawless marble statue, and a shower encased in etched glass.
And the gardens – oh my giddy aunt! Three acres of towering conifers, swathes of rose beds and winding paths that tke you past waterfall endowed ponds surrounded by gnarled and bountiful weeping cherry trees.
Amazing, I could have wandered the halls and pathways for another hour or more, but the wonder dog was giving me that look from the front seat and it was time to go.
Di Jones Southern Highlands has the listing, and its looking for around $AUD3.9m
Prue Miller is a freelance property and architecture journalist in Sydney Australia.
The signature of Kings Cross, the El Alamein fountain was water sculptor Robert Woodward’s first commission; his last can be found here, in the courtyard garden of Peter and Angela Keel’s home in peaceful McMahons Point.
“It’s called Piper’s Rill,” Peter told me as we stood on the threshold shared by both the calming courtyard and the generous dining room, separated by giant pivot, glass doors.
The Keels lived at No. 33 Bank Street, and were looking for a larger home in 1997 when they approached their neighbour about buying No.31. Problem solved.
Sandstone, glorious sandstone is the heartbeat of what has become an exciting, almost sprawling home designed by acclaimed Architect Jon Johannsen. And the delight of winding one’s way through the rooms, the levels and the era’s is one of it’s greatest charms.
As Peter leads me through the home he brings me to the central stair way, lined by walls of sandstone, perfectly lit by the afternoon sun pouring through the skylights.
“This is how Jon resolved the two properties, these were the outside walls of 31 and 33,” said Peter just as we reached the top step, and I turned to see the perfect walls had formed an exquisite two story void and view into the home’s core.
Did I mention the pool and towering Morton bay figs? At times the light reflects off the pool and into the deep green foliage of the towering trees. Divine.
The Keels are well read, articulate art lovers and included space for both passions here. A rare occurrence, and an aspect that will be enjoyed by buyers who have trouble finding wall space on which to place beloved pieces.
One absolutely charming aspect is how the original rooflines, an almost whimsical A-line peak of sandstone, has been retained and revealed in the bedrooms. The combination of that, and wide openings to the street-side verandas, lined in blue petals, well, who wouldn’t want to lie back and relax?
“When you sand back here,” says Peter in one of the rooms, “you feel like you are floating in Jacarandas.” And he’s spot on.
What’s the showstopper? It’s very hard to decide, there is so much to be experienced here. For me it was the dining room; sandstone, (perfectly lit), timber, glass and plenty of room to enjoy an atmosphere of bonhomie, where fine wine and finer conversation would fill this fabulous home.
This story was published in part by NewsCorp’s Mosman Daily.
For those is the snow know, The Remarkables is a breathtaking mountain range and well respected (and very possibly feared by dreadful skiers like me) ski field in New Zealand – not Europe. Europe dreams of having The Remarkables. The Swiss lie awake at night, with silent tears pooling on their kissenbezugs* cos they don’t have The Remarkables. Yep, it’s that amazing.
So where better to build a lake house than right here, at Jack’s Point? Where from glass enclosed bedrooms you can become one with the oh-my-god-it’s-unbelievable views, while snuggled under a doona.
Mind you, there are SO many fireplaces in this place, you wouldn’t even need to unpack your ski socks. Cosy baby.
It’s (rather unimaginatively you’d have to say) called the Lake House. It’s only a drive from posh and pricey Queenstown, but you could be anywhere as you gaze across That Lake. This can be achieved from a number of outside spaces (I love that NZ isn’t afraid to go outside even though it can get so bleeding cold the hairs on the inside of your nose get frosty) in lounge chairs, or neck deep in the steaming spa.
The agent stats include the fact it is a big two acres plus land parcel, and is part of a golf course? I don’t get that part. You’ll have to sort that out with Terry. So it’s kind of like a luxury resort, with a warm clubhouse and cold beers just a op skip and a jump away. Nice.
It’s only ten k’s to the airport and one imagines the holiday rental potential is mind blowing.
At just $NZ5.95m ($AUD5.42m, $USD4.3 or so), it’s a steal … with a one in a gazillon view.
And finally, why are they called The Remarkables? Named by Alexander Garvie in the mid 1800s for the fact that they are one of only two magnificent mountain ranges that run North South. Or maybe that’s a myth. Ok, well, you’re not reading this for a school assignment, so just enjoy the story and forget the facts.
*You had to look right? That’s Swiss German for pillowcase
Maybe 1 in 100 brutalist designs make me take pause. But a sweeping arc, a glorious curve? An exact and balanced resolve of angles, glass and light?
I just swoon.
Found in Carmel, California is one such design currently on the market with Sotheby’s International Realty. Man, if I only had the money…
Any-hoo, this is from the brain of designer genius Wallace E. Cunningham (a name found on the illustrious AD Top 100 Designers on more than one occasion), a ten year project, that honestly soars in so many ways.
Is it possible that a designer, a design and a location are sometimes matched in heaven? If so, the angels were at work on this Pacific Ocean bluff. The concept of organic architecture is often limited to terrestrial comparisons – Cunningham looks at the curves of the earth, the clouds, the waves of great oceans and resolves to create the essence, the energy and the beauty, here.
It is concrete, steel and glass manipulated into something as graceful as a falling feather.
If that is not genius, I’ve lost my mind.
On his company website the telling statement – “The concept of spirituality and motion are integral to my work”. Never was a truer statement made.
Investigate, discover and enjoy this marvellous man’s work. And if you ave $USD11m or so, buy this house. Love this house. Because I sure as hell do
For further enjoyment, meditate blissfully with this video of his work.
Prue Miller has been nuts about architecture and sharing her passion in the media for a long, long, long time. Yep, she’s that old. A former host on Sky News Real Estate, print journalist with NewCorp and a published author Prue is always looking for new challenges, delights and moments that make her swoon.
If you’ve got a hankering to (and the funds to) bunker down in perhaps the prettiest part of upper crust America ignore Beverley Hills. Well, a bit strong there, ignore MOST of Beverley Hills and go take a peek at Suffolk County. In particular Southampton where this gem from Sotheby’s Southampton awaits you.
7 Old Towne Lane was only built in 2016, but has created its own style. With a delicate Hamptons accent this home is at once bright, yet grand. I say that to differentiate that grand and flashy are two different things. There is a presence here that I just love.
I also would love to have a drink fridge that looks like this.
I would also love to be a size 8.
Neither of these things is going to happen.
It is close to other elegant hideaways such as Sag Harbour and Sagaponack (such dreadful names for such gracious places), and hangs on to its antecedents and ties to the old country country via The Historical website.
But let’s just look at the pictures – and dream of a great weekend here – Katherine Hepburn might drop by, or Cary Grant … and absolutely no one from the Trump administration.
17,000 square feet, 4 acres ( gotta love imperial measures) and a ton of yum, all yours for $USD29.9m