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Friday, 8 July 2011

Part 1 - The start of the affair......

1. I love Glebe and Sydney’s inner west! There is such a diverse group of people who live in close proximity to Sydney. Glebe is an eclectic mix of students, professionals, young families, backpackers, “creative” people (musicians, artists, writers, actors…) and one of Sydney’s largest Aboriginal populations (the Cadigal and Wangal Wangal people). Glebe also has its share of homeless and those living at the poverty line. This mix of people makes for an energy and grittiness that defines the suburb.
2. I love the houses of Glebe. I am particularly interested in how people live in their homes, many dating from the 19th century, in a modern way.
3. I love walking. And I love walking around Glebe exploring the streets, lanes, houses and parks that make up this special suburb.
4. I love learning about people’s stories.

This blog will tell the untold stories of the ‘secret’ homes of Glebe and the people who live in them. I will explore the way we adjust and apply new design ideas to old and historic homes to live in the 21st century. You’ll also hear a little bit of me and my family and our life in Glebe. Want to tell me your story? Drop me an email at

I moved from Brisbane in 2002 and started living in Sydney in the suburb of Penshurst, near Chatswood. Why the move to Sydney? When my sister Emma and I were little we used to come and stay with our Great Aunts in Hunters Hill, Whale Beach and Stanwell Park. We used to ride the ferries and buses and climb the trees in the botanical gardens. I don’t think I was consciously aware of the gasping in-your-face beauty of Sydney but I somehow knew Sydney was in my future. I was also on my way to a career in Human Resources (HR). I had a great entry level HR role in Brisbane but knew that the bigger career opportunities lay in the Big Smoke. Lastly (or most importantly) my recently re-found soul mate and best friend and I decided we wanted to be in Sydney together. Arran’s consulting work had taken him all around the country for a few months at a time and he craved a home. Sydney was it for both of us.

How did we end up in Glebe? We were living in a brand new and HUGE unit in Penshurst but there were issues. Small annoyances were emerging. Body corporate rules disallowed washing our car on the property, no pets were allowed, a very noisy and annoying automatic tyre inflating machine beeped at all hours of the night across the road at the BP service station. We had started to think about moving. Arran’s work  colleague decided to move overseas and as a result needed to break the lease on his unit, in Cook St Glebe. Arran and I arrived on an overcast Saturday morning, hung-over and not speaking to each other after a somewhat drunken falling out the night before. The only thing I can tell you about the unit on that day was Arran and I walking out onto a large balcony, the clouds parting, the sun bursting out to sparkle on the blue water of Blackwattle Bay, and the ANZAC Bridge in the background. We took it straight away. The rent was reasonable and the location was fantastic. We were talking again.

The two of us (and Jemma the cat) lived in that 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit for 4 years and we had a blast! We could walk to and from work in the CBD or catch the bus at the top of Cook St. We drank lots of wine and enjoyed the company of lots of new friends on that big balcony overlooking the peaceful water. In the mornings we watched the dragon boats training and the fishing trawlers coming in with their haul, to the fish markets.  In the evenings we watched the lights of the city and the tourist boats cruising into the Bay. As it turned out, the balcony was the best part of that 1980’s unit. The kitchen was falling apart, the curtains in tatters, the carpets stained and the bedrooms tiny with no storage space. No matter, we lived the high life in a peaceful ideal part of Glebe.

Eventually though the space got to us and we were lucky enough to be in a position to start thinking of buying our first home together in Sydney, something that many young couples struggle to do. I had decided by this time that Glebe was for me. We put together a wish list - 3 bedrooms, a bathroom that would fit a bathtub (I adore having a bath and reading a book!) and off-street parking. As was to be the start of a tradition of agonising over small decisions (take-away meals, what to watch on TV…) but being incredibly impulsive and decisive over the life-changing ones, we bought the first house we looked at!

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