We started the week with Pettit & Sevitt, and here we go again. This one has been extended, though it’s such a sympathetic renovation done not long after the build that we cannot tell by the house pics which is what. – seemles. Never before sold and clearly loved for all of it’s 45 + years its first era is over and a new one awaits.
For those who mood is generally set to: Brady and who are perhaps are looking (and have the means) for something pretty special in the leavy ‘burbs of Sydeny then, take it from us, you wil not see another of these for a at least few years – tis a rare bird indeed. A jaw-dropper of unassailable, untouched Pettit & Sevitt breathtakery; valuted ceilings, split-levels timber detailing, parquetry floors and a massive just-waiting-for-the-pool yard. We hold grave fears that this too, like so many others, could be turned out as a white, high-gloss abomination – so we’d beg those of you in the market: this one requires a (sensitive) lover like no other, do you fit the bill?
B&W images by Max Dupain
Pettit and Sevitt project homes of the 1960s and 70s are a staple here for us and its always a sight for sore eyes when those familair mission brown beams and white brick walls float up on a feed, this example however is a cut above the usual. ‘The Courtyard House’ was a design by Ken Woolley (but of course) for the company c.1965 and was compleated in 1966 as part of their second display village, one of ten domestic architecture dreams presented for consideration to the post war public as an indigenous, enlightened response to the needs of the emrgeing Australian lifestyle and climate. And as it did then, it wows us today with a considered inside/outside floorplan as the original village brochure attests:
“The house encloses the courtyard on two sides and brick walls enclose the other sides. Living, kitchen and bedrooms all face the courtyard, even the roof slopes towards it emphasising its relationship to all rooms”
This residence is textbook parade of P&S trademark elements which endure as the best Mid-Cenutry Modenrism always does – the beautiful painted masonry, tile and timber and thanks to only two dedicated owners it is in spendid condition, with elegant gardens of harmonious plant selection.
Photographed in the mid 60s by Max Dupain and part of the 2014 Sydney Living Museums Iconic Houses Tour, where Ken Woolley himself walked the admiring throngs through this home, discussing his design, himself moved by its marvellous condition.
Now is the time for the next chapter and new owner to take the reigns of this exhbition level home. A new cusotdian to love it and keep it as it has been for the last 50 years, seeing through the next and enjoying every living moment its simple yet affecting design affords.
The second Pettit & Sevitt to close out the day, this one a tad smaller than the first, yet even more original in its interiors, with nary an alteration made since first built in 1968. Not a surprise really since it has been one person’s, singularly cherished home the entire time, only now is it facing a new future. Fingers crossed this one too snags the caring owner and subsequent tending it so acutely deserves.
Example two. C.1968. P&S design number -TBA.
PS – For more Pettit and Sevitt chit chat, restoration help and owner pride – check out the ‘Pettit and Sevitt Owners and Friends Club’ on social media, from the good people at Secret Design Studio……..
Hark! Those of the Pettit & Sevitt project home persuasion today we bring you not one but two large, hillside, split level family ramblers. Each all original (apart from a little guff & fluff – easily removed). Both a little tired yet busting with potential for a full restoration by some loving hand. And both of them, by the looks, needing to be sold as estate wind-ups. We say – jump in! For we can just feel it in our bones that the more ‘the average Australian’ paints gorgeous timber white, renders raw brick into aluminium grey and replaces every inch of our native earthy, mid-century homes with a high-gloss shopping mall aesthetic, the more these faithful, original wonders rise in value and grace.
Example one. C.1972. P&S design number -TBA.
Next up, this lovely Pettit & Sevitt which was thoughtfully extended in 1984 by Anne Colville Architects, with a split level lounge added, among other nifty changes, ensuring that the smaller footprint typical to original P&S designs, was expanded to accommodate the needs of late twentieth century expectations of space, without compromising the signature cream and timber interiors. The present owners have continued to embrace this essential earthiness and now would dearly love a new owner to take over the reigns and continue on this way.
A fine Mint Slice. Deep mission beams outlining expanses of cream walls, an intelligently considered set of spaces and flow through, a purely late Mid-Century expression of the Australian lifestyle (that bar tho!), all in exquisite condition. The purists and P&S fans in particular will be hyperventilating over this Ken Woolley designed beauty (The ‘Lowline F’), but really who shouldn’t be? Yet another in our top 10 hit-parade of magnificent homes this week and one we’d be seriously scrapping for, if in close proximity.
Project homes have long been a staple for us and what was a long marginalised subset of the Australian Modernist story – the pre-designed experiment by renowned Australian architects each attempting their own variety of better home design, better suburb planning and an optimistic new way of living – is now clawing back the esteem it deserves. None more so than the output of 1960s into 1970s firm Pettit and Sevitt, who not only now have a fan club of dedicated owners/restorers but is back in business recapturing this spirit of high Modern design with grounded attitude for a new generation (can we now just all pretend the 1980s and 1990s volume building didn’t happen?).
But let’s get down to it, this particularly beautiful building and a more stunning Pettit & Sevitt home we can heartily claim we have never seen. Those familiar will spot the usual P&S hallmarks; cedar beams, painted white brick and passage-less flow of living spaces however the ‘Mark V’ is the design opus, a P&S offering by way of revered architect Ken Woolley presented to any lucky purchaser as the highest-end option on their books; the most rooms, the most expensive and pure boldness in its 2-storey floor plan. As a result only few were so brave and of the limited figure ever actually built it is suggested that a mere 15 examples of varying quality and originality remain standing throughout the country. This listing, dear Modernist Australian, is what they call a unicorn. Rare, intact, hiding in plain sight on in its glorious bushland address as if it was still 1967, the year of it’s construction. As Home Beautiful stated at the time:
“‘If this house was designed as a “one-off” custom built house as an architect’s private commission it would take its place among Australia’s best”
Superseding the throwaway tag of ‘project home’ this expansive and singularly gorgeous residence stands today as a sentinel in architectural expression, daring optimism and collective experimentation – concepts which we still need as desperately today as we did back then. All goodwill and envy to the eventual new owner, what an astounding place for anyone to call home.
All images courtesy of Modern House real estate.
Petitt & Sevitt project homes are usually spotted in the bush hills of Sydney, looking for the most part like the mission brown beamed and white walled original gems that they are (like this gorgeous little rental for instance). Today’s example however is a bit more on the epic side of things. In the secretly high-end ‘burg of South Franga, home to many jaw-Mid-Century sprawlers, this one sits pride of place in its own compound of joy and although it’s had a white out, tack on and marble up and diverges from the gumnuttiness of it’s Sydney origins, it is still a inspiringly straightforward and light home.
Note – For more P&S love, and in keeping with the growing movement to celebrate and preserve MCM homes in this country (hooray!), take a look at a rather new ‘Pettit and Sevitt Owners and Friends Club’ on Facebook.
PS – The agents might want to note that not long departed Ken Woolly (vale) was an actual person.
Another stunning bushland acreage with a slightly gone-to-seed home therein. This one just out of Brissy and holding a strong 70s, mission and cream toned, timber beamed, Pettit and Sevitty vibe. Once again so much potential here to clean it up and make it a Japanese tinged refuge amid tropical birdsong and frog blips.
**Update** ‘Tis indeed a Pettit and Sevitt! A ‘Lowline’ design from Ken Woolley (c.1969) no less (though very altered from the original plan).