This week’s Home Stories will have you saying, ‘Canberra or Palm Springs?’ as we explore…
You know you’re up for a good Home Story when you’re puffed at the top of a long and steep driveway—and you still have quite a few steps before the front door.
It’s a good thing Cass was carrying all the camera equipment and I only had my car keys, or I would have had to stop for a breather half-way up. But we got there and met our welcoming host Amy on the entrance deck of her elevated home in Aranda.
As Amy opened the front door, I wasn’t quite sure what to fix my gaze on. I wanted to admire the ceiling-to-floor windows, the stunning view of the mountains, the mid-century furniture, the artwork and the doggie all at the same time. In order to not go cross-eyed, I instead focused on Amy and asked if she could show us around.
Her family home is a clean and modern design, with a view that reminds you of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles. Now, I specifically mention that since Ernest Munns, the commercial architect who designed this home as his only residential project, was inspired by exactly that—the high elevation, large windows, stunning views of LA. Hello Canberra-wood.
We started in the kitchen, which is one of the most recently renovated parts of the mid-60s house. I thought the kitchen was a great place to start, since we tend to spend most of our time in our kitchens (and this is one kitchen any of us would love to spend plenty of time in!).
You’ll see from Cass’s photo that the wooden strips running vertically up the kitchen walls (which swing to open into the pantry) mirror the original home’s ceiling. This highly fashionable treatment of the early ‘70s has done a full circle and looks just as fashionable in the 21st Century. Kind of the opposite of flares.
We moved from the kitchen to the bedrooms, each with north-facing windows that not only show off the same ‘Canberra-wood’ view, but also catch the shimmering reflection of the pool on the ceiling above. This is not a fluke, but a planned experience by the architect.
Munns also ensured the whole house was filled with light. For example—rooms without sunny windows feature skylights to capture the sun instead. Furthermore, the white vertical metal beams on which the house stands complement the mature white Eucalyptus trees surrounding the house.
Don’t you love it when such details have been carefully considered? Even though Munns isn’t with us anymore, the appreciation of such attention to detail is not lost on Amy, Cass or me—and now you.
From there, we moved to the spacious and light-filled living room, which boasts a stunning fireplace and a supremely friendly doggie. In every corner was a mid-century piece to complement the home’s architectural design.
It took Amy many years to collect these retro pieces from Gumtree, eBay and the likes. She said it’s all a waiting game, but then so is upkeeping a home that has been habited for 50 years.
In the five years that Amy—a real estate agent—has lived there with her family, they have gradually been improving aspects of the house. And still, as we all know, there is always something else to do. Some relacquering there, a window replacement here, some insulation there…and the list goes on.
The waiting game may be for perfection, but of course, we all know that’s it’s not about that but rather about enjoying the process. A process that looks mighty great, in my opinion.
After I’d had some more time to get visually acquainted with the home, my eyes stopped darting around the house and I relaxed in its peaceful, light and nature-immersed ambience.
It was only then my gaze started to be pulled towards the large art on the wall. When I pointed to it, Amy said that not having enough walls to hang the art she loves is the only downside to a home she absolutely loves.
It’s not a bad downside, really. Actually, there is another, more positive, downside—that I won’t get puffed going down that driveway.
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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
Photography: Cass Atkinson