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Australia's housing boom is changing Sydney's suburbs, with cookie-cutter houses, apartments and duplexes replacing the family homes with verandahs and large backyards that we grew up in. Occasionally new homes have a creative flourish, adding character to a street and inspiring Grand Design lovers. These are 4 of the most unusual transformations to add to your architectural open day short list.
In the centre of our affluent eastern suburbs, Menulog's founder lounges in a quartet of waterfront homes, bought for $80 million in 2016, feasting on a buffet of take-away dinners (and profits).
Nearby, Macquarie Lighthouse looms over the luxury, enticing a househunting couple and their pet pooch to inspect the sandstone home next door. Built on over 2,600sqm in 1881, the heritage listed lighthouse keeper's lodge is one of our city's oldest homes, only available on a century-long lease.
In 2002, Carmen and Stephen Davidson transformed the interior, spending over $2 million to create contemporary spaces loaded with mod-cons, fireplaces, a jacuzzi and stables in a home with only one downside - it would be too enchanting for lighthouse keepers, causing a few more shipwrecks to sink beneath Sydney Harbour.
In 2016, a pair of Chinese billionaires, majority owners of Virgin Australia, paid $7.5 million for the cottage.
Sydney's centre is dotted with sandstone structures, the sturdy material of choice for cottages in the 19th century. Now heritage listed, the exteriors of these distinctive homes survived the string of development booms, with the Fink House, reimagined in the 1980s, a classic example.
Margaret Fink was one of our famed bohemians, busy in Australia as Germaine Greer and Clive James were invading Britain. She re-energised our film industry, producing inherently Aussie tales from The Removalists and My Brilliant Career to For Love Alone and Candy. In the 1990s, she focused her creative energies toward architecture, buying an 1840s heritage listed sandstone cottage in Woollahra and completely remodelling the interior to align with her unique personality while still retaining the integrity of the 19th century frontage.
Beyond the front door of the cottage hidden behind louvres and green hedges, cross the stepped bridge to access a rear courtyard and ascend into the loft and the expansive second storey with new bedrooms and an entertainment area. In the comfortable living space, warm timber tones are contrasted with weathered granite in rooms bathed in bright sunlight and open to new possibilities. The perfect zone for an artistic talent to create her next masterpiece.
For decades as a home, hotel, bar, recording studio and restaurant, countless musicians, drinkers, diners and house guests have wandered through the Moog on 413 Bourke Street.
This three-storey Victorian terrace may be unique but real estate agents are perhaps ruing the site's unusual history. After 3 attempts to sell the property in the last decade, each failing, the original reserve price of $8 million has since halved, but is it a bargain or a burden?
In our lively inner-city, with night clubbers, students from Sydney Uni and sportsplayers from the SCG and Allianz Stadium within shouting distance, the Moog has appealed to expensive tastes, where a night in the giant single suite of the Conde Naste-shortlisted hotel cost $1,000 and Sydney's priciest drink, the Amex Noir, costing over $2,000, was served at the bar.
Offers are invited to purchase the property, now earning a steady income as a Tapas bar, with the new owner encouraged to convert it into a home again and enjoy a musical swim in the pool, wired for sound with underwater stereo speakers.
It takes a special type of househunter to spot an electrical substation and see a fixer-upper opportunity. During World War I, Sydney needed to keep lights on and this tough compound fed gigawatts of energy to homes in the inner-west for decades.
As the city expanded and the building was abandoned, an open-minded buyer snapped it up with a challenging development application to convert it into a warm 2-storey, 3-bedroom home. Surrounded by modest brick homes in a quiet street, the rooftop is missing the iconic addition of solar panels but it is prepped for a terrace garden.
The stark interior is now brightly glowing, with polished concrete flooring and walls as its past life is cleverly concealed with careful splashes of colour, sky-lit rooms and stainless steel appliances. The home was sold in 2014 for just over $1 million.