When Brendan Moar first set foot inside this 1960s-inspired home in 2009, he knew then and there that it was made for him. “Every time I walk through the door, I'm blown away,” he says. The landscape architect and LifeStyle Channel presenter exchanged contracts on the property, located in Sydney's inner west, within 24 hours of first seeing it on the internet. “I had originally discounted it because of its facade,” he says, “but I'm so glad I went back through my reject pile.”
The front of this narrow terrace house, the only original part of the building that remains, gives little indication of the impressive, cathedral-like interior. “It's like walking into Dr Who's Tardis,” says Brendan. “I just love the height of the ceilings, the flood of natural light and the elegance of the spiral staircase.”
The original home had been renovated by previous owners to a 1960s aesthetic, a project that involved knocking down the entire house, aside from the facade, and excavating the interior. The floor level was dug out to create a sunken living room and an impressive ceiling height of 4.5 metres at the back of the house. A Mondrian-like grid of floor-to-ceiling windows connects to an L-shaped pool that wraps around the rear of the building and gives the impression that it's flowing inside. For the new owner, this layout was perfect.
“All I did was move in,” says Brendan. “And what was unbelievable was how well my furniture fitted, proportionately and aesthetically.”
The open-plan space downstairs is divided into three zones. At the front is an intimate living space that Brendan has dubbed the ‘smart room'. In the centre is the sunken living room, with copper fireplace and slate floors, and at the rear a kitchen/dining area. Every available surface throughout is filled with artworks, ceramics and glassware, creating a vibrant and intensely personal effect.
“I like to express myself in the house and in the garden,” says Brendan. “I like it when I enter a house and immediately get a sense of who lives there.”
Upstairs, on the middle level, are three bedrooms and the main bathroom. The spiral staircase continues up to the third level, where office space carved out of the original attic opens onto a private rooftop terrace with views of a nature reserve to the left and the city skyline to the right. “This floor is an amazing space for working, because it feels completely separated from the rest of the house,” says Brendan. “I really feel like I can escape up here, either to work or to chill out on the terrace.”
This personal stamp on this outdoor space is evident in the ‘barcode' striped decking, painted in vibrant shades of green. “It's become a bit of a signature design element in my work,” says Brendan, who is kept busy with private landscaping jobs as well as transforming gardens for his LifeStyle series, Dry Spell Gardening.
There are no hard boundaries between inside and out in this narrow terrace. Brendan has created a seamless flow between the two by introducing lush arrangements of potted philodendrons in the living area and installing outdoor planter boxes behind the windows in the lightwells. These hanging boxes overflow with cascading foliage of rhipsalis, creating a waterfall effect. The water theme is echoed in the strong blue elements of the decor, from a sofa upholstered in diverse shades of sapphire velvet to aqua-hued feature panels in the windows. “I'm a blue boy,” says the man better known for his love of greenery. “Blue can be so intense and so peaceful.”
But he likes to party, too, so the house is often filled with people. “It's a great space to entertain in, so friends come around a lot. I still can't believe I found this place – it just fits me to a tee.”