Seven years ago, Elizabeth Harris, her husband Campbell and their cocker spaniel puppy, Potcho, moved into their two-bedroom Elizabeth Bay waterfront apartment in the iconic ‘Buena Vista’ building.
After a stunning renovation, Elizabeth has created a genuinely luxurious, stylish apartment, where every design element has been thoughtfully considered. I spoke with her to find out about the inspiration behind the design for 10/5 Elizabeth Bay Crescent.
What made you choose Elizabeth Bay, and this apartment when you originally bought it seven years ago?
We had lived in Bondi and Redfern, but we had an open mind in terms of location. However, a garden or a courtyard was non-negotiable as Potcho was an active little puppy. We were happy to be in the East or Inner West, and then we found this place. I remember viewing the listing and going onto Google Maps and seeing this little building on a small street directly on the waterfront. When we saw the apartment for the first time, we were thrilled to find it had a northeast-facing courtyard. The trifecta of parklands, waterfront and courtyard, was compelling.
What was the 10/5 Elizabeth Bay Crescent like when you took possession?
It was pretty tired and run down. However, it had beautiful bones and was of course located in a gorgeous old building, “Buena Vista”, with Spanish Mission architecture. It just needed some love, a re-think of the floor plan and a good lift.
As your real estate agent, I know you were directly responsible for the incredible design aesthetic in the apartment. It’s got a real ‘wow’ factor!
Thank you, Jason. We engaged an architect who helped us with the floor plan and the spatial work; however, in terms of look and feel, fixtures, finishes, and colour palette, that was me. I work in corporate communications for an energy company, but I’d worked in the design industry once upon a time. I studied architecture at university, but I didn’t complete that degree. I had learnt about form and function, clean lines and discipline in design. I briefly worked for a handful of interior design magazines, helping to style interiors. I also had the privilege of working for one of Sydney’s best architects, William Smart of Smart Design Studio, helping with styling and marketing. I’ve always kept abreast of interior design trends and have friends in the industry like at Decus Interiors who do beautiful work. So, it was exciting to be able to pick up those skills and apply them to the renovation.
What influenced your design aesthetic?
I wanted the design to keep with the period architecture and beautiful art deco buildings around Elizabeth Bay and Potts Point. I loved the notion of a beautiful pied-à-terre on the city fringe. I’m a big fan of Joseph Dirand, a contemporary architect and interior designer based in Paris. He is known for his strong lines, classic elements, lighting, and rich materials, particularly marble. I wanted to create something appropriately elegant and give back to this building in a way that it deserved.
What do you love about living in Elizabeth Bay?
What astounds me is the abundance of natural beauty. The parklands around here are so generous. Before we moved to Elizabeth Bay, we’d visited Elizabeth Bay House, Beare Park, and I’d enjoyed coming to Potts Point’s restaurants, but it’s something different to live in the community. Something that also attracted us to our apartment was the location. It’s such a short trip to the city, and you’re within walking distance to Macleay Street and some of the best restaurants in Sydney.
Can you name a couple of your favourite restaurants?
I’d have to say The Apollo as it has the tastiest food in Sydney, and the atmosphere is just divine. It even inspired some of the design for our place. When we moved to the area, The Apollo had recently had a fit-out, and it was buzzing. I loved sitting at the marble bar, enjoying a meal or a drink. One of the design process dilemmas when renovating our home was whether to use a natural stone or an artificial stone. Some people advised against natural stone, warning it was porous and may be easily damaged. However, sitting at The Apollo’s bar, made of Super White, a marble dolomite, I asked myself why one of the best and busiest restaurants in Sydney was using natural stone in such a high traffic area? When I spoke to The Apollo staff, they confirmed they didn’t need to do anything to protect it, as it is an incredibly hard-wearing material. Now we have that same natural stone throughout the apartment. It’s been amazing.
You’ve completed such an exquisite renovation with the fixtures, finishes and fully resolved floor plan. Why are you selling 10/5 Elizabeth Bay Crescent?
We’ve been here seven years now. Naturally, we’ll be sad to leave, but we’ve had a fantastic time and created some beautiful memories. However, our family is growing, and we want to continue living comfortably. Whether it’s upsizing or downsizing, the days when you get to stay in one home forever are becoming rarer. However, I can undoubtedly say the fit-out we gave this place is genuinely deserving of a forever home. Some people approach a renovation with a very short-term mindset. What makes this place significantly different is that it has been done to a standard and quality that will last a lifetime. I’m very much of the approach that you do something once, and you do it well. It’s also essential with a space like this, in a building and an area like this, to design with longevity in mind. One of the most rewarding things with design is creating something that will stand the test of time and will still be relevant, functional and practical for a long time into the future.
Well, you’ve achieved your goal. I’m sure the new owners will be thanking you for years to come. See Elizabeth’s gorgeous renovation at 10/5 Elizabeth Bay Crescent.