Amazing Brisbane renovations: The transformation from daggy rental to Ascot trophy home

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Originally published on Domain

Sutherland Avenue at Ascot usually needs no introduction.

As far as Brisbane streets go, few carry the blue-blood pedigree of this wide, tree-lined road peacefully tucked in the heart of a suburb that has, for generations, kept some of the city’s wealthiest families in situ.

Beautiful, regal Queenslanders line the street, punctuated by sprawling landmark estates – Windermere at 14 Sutherland Avenue sold earlier this year for more than $13 million, while Domino’s Pizza boss Don Meij called the street home until he sold his place at No.27 for $11 million in 2018.

But even the best of streets can find itself with an ugly duckling, and so it was when Kaye Gillies and her husband Craig found 41 Sutherland Avenue in 2009.

Far from your typical spectacular Ascot estate, the art deco-turned-1980s add-on mash-up had been used as a rental home.

“It was rundown, it was tired, and it was outdated. You could see there were nice bones to the house and it had character under there but it was small and it needed a lot of work,” Ms Gillies said.

Even still, the daggy house had been earning its previous owners $1000 a week in rent, such was the timeless appeal of Sutherland Avenue, so the Gillies knew they could safely invest a lot of money in restoring it.

The house had been built in 1938 and they soon uncovered a multitude of stunning original features that inspired the entire renovation, from round rooms and balconies, to brass handrails, to the steel windows and doors.

Inspired by Australian interior designer Greg Natale, they opted to not just restore the house to its former glory but take it to the next level in terms of aesthetics.

“It was built in that Hollywood regency era, so we tried to recreate that sumptuous glamorous feel,” Ms Gillies said.

The house was already two levels but had had an extension tacked on in the 1980s, which the Gillies removed then and extended the house out further, keeping to its original 1930s style.

An original round room was kept, and now forms the basis of a jaw-dropping entertaining space complete with a marble and brass-fitted bar, bespoke seating and designer lighting, all of which overlooks the pool and backyard.

Today, it has its own pride of place on Sutherland Avenue, a stunning example of a luxurious family home and its era, now in keeping with the pedigree of its street.

“It’s a very elegant house, I’d say it’s quite opulent compared to the Hamptons-style Queenslanders that are popular in Brisbane,” Ms Gillies said.

“It’s very different. In Ascot, it has the advantage of being in this beautiful traditional street, it’s on the big block, but with the different design, the different era.

“I’d say it’s more like something you’d find in Melbourne or even New Farm [in Brisbane].”

The renovation was not without its trials.

“[We spent] 2.5 years out of the house. It was hell. Everything was bespoke with three-month lead times,” Ms Gillies said.

“We restored most of the steel windows and doors but some we had to get from Melbourne. Everything took forever and was so expensive.”

Of course, those 2.5 years were worth it. Moving back in, the family were able to make the most of their home, with enough space for growing children and, importantly, to easily hold cocktail parties for 100 people.

“Our friends are all so sad we’re selling because we’ve had so many great parties,” Ms Gillies said.

The house itself, apart from being beautiful to look at it, is also wonderfully functional.

The north-facing hub of the home opens out to the courtyard, pool area and firepit, while at the opposite end of the house further living areas, including another courtyard and garden, offer separation and privacy.

Set on 830 square metres of land, there are multiple living spaces, four bedrooms upstairs (three with balconies), three bathrooms plus a powder room, a dedicated home office downstairs (which could be used as a fifth bedroom) and a four-car garage.

The Gillies are now selling their beloved home after owning and enjoying it for more than 10 years but with the kids having grown up, they’re ready to pass the baton of fabulous parties on to the next family.

“We have loved it here. It’s been a privilege to live in this street and enjoy the majesty of the old trees and the regal old houses,” Ms Gillies said.

41 Sutherland Avenue, Ascot is listed at offers over $3.65 million. For more information click here.

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