Saturday, 15 January 2011


I live in this amazing old terrace house, in the beautiful suburb of Surry Hills. The walls are made from blocks of sandstone that are 30cm thick. Some days, I find a fine dust has fallen on the floor or kitchen bench from the walls slowly wearing away. It is oddly satisfying to watch a building age slowly, in a similar way to a person. As if time works on us all, even the indestructible walls of a 100+ year old building.

There is one bedroom upstairs. A lounge room full of modern suede couches in every shade of grey imaginable, with a matching toned rug. There is the middle room between the lounge and the kitchen. I guess it is meant to be a dining room but I never dine so it's a study now.

When this place was first built, the entirety would have run from the front door to where the second room ends. The kitchen and bathroom are new extensions. Someone recently suggested that this place and the house next door were one wide house. I'm not convinced.

There was this book called The Harp in the South by one of my favourite authors (who only passed away a month ago), Ruth Park. It's about girls growing up in the poor Sydney neighbourhood of Surry Hills. Entire families of up to 6 people lived in places like the one I am in now. They had outdoor bathrooms and managed to shelter in this tiny little place. It says something about how much room we expect to have now when people see my place and think it's tiny. How much space do we need? I feel I have enough. Just the right amount, actually.

It's the middle of summer in Sydney and this place is perfect. The downstairs anyway. It's cool in summer and warm in winter. All thanks to the thermal mass of the sandstone. They sure knew how to build things then.

I like this old place. It feels like recycling a home. That is nice.

1 comment:

Mia Jane said...

"If these old walls could speak." My grandfather grew up in 111 Bathurst St - 13 children lived in that house. I look at that corner terrace now and think what a prize that would be today for a DINK but thinking about it full to bursting with so many vibrant children makes me wonder how the parents stayed sane. I loved the sentiment of your post. Thank you for sharing it.