Grand Designs Australia

North Balgowlah - Expert Tips

Discover tips from the experts behind the North Balgowlah Pop Art House from episode 7, season 6 of Grand Designs Australia.

An abiding love of all things 1950’s, especially American design, architecture and art
has been a life-long pursuit for dedicated collectors Warwick Noble and Melanie Hughes.
If it’s from the 50’s, they collect it, they wear it…… or they dance to it!

They live in an old fibro house built in the 50’s by Mel’s  grandfather. But its boxy design has become too tight for them and their two daughters Evie 7 and Lola aged 9, so they’ve made the decision to build from scratch, and fast track to 50’s modern.

Calling on a multitude of influence from both American and Australian architecture, their design is an unashamed homage to late 50’s “post-atomic” architecture.  Packed with features from the era like exposed rock wall fireplaces, a circular steel staircase, a wooden pergola in a Mondrian pattern, in ground pool, rooftop cactus garden, flat roof lines and splashes of colour everywhere  – it really is a slice of Palm Springs destined to make its mark in a very normal suburban street in North Balgowlah.

Warwick and Mel have certainly done their research. They’ve been studying local icons for nearly 20 years – such as the Rose Seidler house designed by the aspiring young architect Harry Seidler for his parents in the 1950’s. Warwick has even spent time in America studying works from giants of modernism like Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

Building houses like this however takes more than research. It takes intricate planning in order to achieve the level of detail so relevant to the style. Everything is built in and minimal. Warwick has even had to measure a loaf of bread to design the perfect in built cupboard. It’s a considered approach that’s needed for everything, right down to the colour of the buttons on the light switches. 

But there’s an even bigger hurdle for these two on top of a multitude of decisions. Warwick and Mel have been collecting pop culture items and furniture for years. But the 50’s minimal design they so admire  doesn’t really cater for….. stuff. Can they bring themselves to cull their collections? And how does a family with two young artistic girls used to their things being out and accessible, live in a piece of high end minimalist design ?

There’s no doubt they are building a piece of art. But the reality is, it might require a whole new way of living.


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.