Australian Homes

Annalisa Capurro

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 12th October 2011

The mid-century home of interior designer, design educator and mid-century design afficionado Annalisa Capurro

Colourful details in the loungeroom

Original bookshelves and wood panelling. Perfect mid-century furniture and lighting!
Today’s incredible home has a very special story.  It’s a story of fate, design karma and one woman’s passion for iconic, untouched mid-century architecture!

‘The Jack House’ in Sydney’s Upper North Shore belongs to interior designer, design educator and mid-century design afficionado Annalisa Capurro, and her 8 yr old daughter India.  Annalisa has been here just two years… but after reading this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that this home was always meant to be hers.

Annalisa purchased the Jack House privately from Russell Jack, the architect (and founding partner of architectural firm Allen Jack and Cottier), who designed the house in 1956 in conjunction with his late wife architect Pamela Jack.  In 1957 The Jack House won the prestigious Sulman Award for architecture.

When it was finally time to move from his beloved home in 2009, Russell Jack couldn’t bear to sell his home to just anyone.  He wanted to entrust the home only to someone who understood and valued it’s architectural significance, and someone he knew would retain it in original condition. Enter Annalisa Capurro!

Russell interviewed a number of people who were interested in buying his home.  Annalisa was well aware of the Jack House through her work in design and her affiliation with Sydney’s Heritage Houses Trust. She says she had always considered this home her ‘dream’ house.  The Jack House encapsulates many important modernist design principles that Annalisa has long valued, such as modesty of scale, connection to site and nature, honesty of materiality, perfect orientation, and a strong inside/ outside connection.  When she heard this iconic home was on the market (due to a passing  mention in the editor’s letter of Inside Out magazine!) Annalisa made contact with Russell Jack.  She passed his rigorous selection process with flying colours!

I must say, there couldn’t possibly have been a better candidate.  Annalisa is passionate about the protection and preservation of mid century architecture.  She shares her extensive knowlege on this subject with her students at Sydney’s Design Centre Enmore, and she regularly  hosts architectural tours for the Historic Houses Trust, AAA, Art Deco Society NSW, and Sydney Institute.  Annalisa believes that modernist houses can still teach us many valuable lessons today about living smaller and living smarter.  ‘The Jack House is a living example of this’ she says, ‘it is just as contemporary and relevant today as when it was designed and built over 50 years ago. Good design doesn’t date.’  Hear hear!

Annalisa says she feels very blessed to have the opportunity to live in a house that inspires her on a daily basis.   When chatting to Annalisa about the home, it’s clear she sees herself less as an owner but more of a custodian, looking after this extraordinary piece of architecture for generations to come. ‘Hopefully it will be here long after I have gone…’ she says!

Whilst there is much to love about her stunning home, Annalisa says the greatest thing about buying the Jack House has been forming a close personal friendship with architect Russell Jack. ‘He has been one of my design heroes for as long as I can remember, and now he is my friend and mentor’ she says.  Mr Jack must be counting his lucky stars too!

Sydneysiders who are interested in mid-century architecture can pop along to hear Annalisa speak as part of a symposium on 50’s and 60’s houses for the Sydney Architectural Festival on October 21st and 22nd, where her home will also be part of an ‘Open House’ tour.  (fellow mid-century homeowner Tim Ross will also be there!) Limited places – all info here!

Massive thanks to Annalisa for sharing her home with us and for this wonderful backstory!

Annalisa has no shortage of chairs!  ‘I just love chairs and have been collecting them for over 15 years…’ she says.

Faultless mid-century details

‘My beautiful study complete with floor to ceiling bookshelves (for my collection of architecture and design books) and built in drawing board!’ – Annalisa

One of Annalisa’s most treasured aspects of her home is the gorgeous original wallpapers and fabrics – including this original Marimekko fabric in the study!

Dining room looking through to entrance hall
Dining details – and more original wallpaper!
Dining room

Kitchen details (original laminate) and a commitment to the colour orange!

Master bedroom.  One of the only changes Annalisa has made is painting her bedroom wall a dark charcoal

The chair obsession continues….!

India’s bedroom
The most beautiful view in the house!  Second study with frameless open-able window opening to lush green foliage beyond.  Aghh..

Entrance hall details

Entrance hall archi details

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 12th October 2011


  • linda from OEKE 5 years ago

    The fact he ‘interviewed’ potential buyers just makes me smile.
    He loved his house that much – and now it appears it goes to another who loves it too.
    Looking at these images makes me dream about our last house. A 70’s masterpiece that was so dramatic that I too loved it passionately. We are now doing our best to bring an 80’s house to a certain standard – but it just goes to show, a well designed house needs no renovating – it was right the first time.

  • Cathg1g2 5 years ago

    Oh childhood orange…70s child that I am…love it!

  • Donna 5 years ago

    What a wonderful home and a wonderful post too Lucy with the homes back story. I love all the wood, the gorgeous ceiling to floor windows, and all the wonderful, colourful details. One of my new (if not the top!) faves. Has inspired me to learn more about mid century home design and architecture. I wonder if there are any books I can get my hands on to kick me off.
    As always, a great start to my Wed : )

  • Pippa 5 years ago

    Loved it, self confessed chair addict also, so thanks for the eye candy fix but I only spotted one Aussie gem, bring on more Australian Mid Century!!

  • Jessamy 5 years ago

    Wow! Appreciate the use of colour, and all those beautiful chairs!

  • Pamela Oberman 5 years ago

    People like Analaise should be given some sort of city medal for such important preservation work carried out in the name of love and pride for our iconic cultural hero’s who are receiving praise much too late in life.

  • mariana 5 years ago

    i just fell off my stool…. i was just reading about this very house in ’50/60/70 iconic australian houses’. i’ve fallen head over heels in love with it! thanks so much for sharing! of course she passed the test.. it looks totally amazing!

  • Barbara 5 years ago

    I love “modesty of scale”,something a lot of new houses really lack.

  • Blue fruit 5 years ago

    Again this proves that good design is absolutely timeless, and a joy in which to live. Wonderful way to get people to see the benefits of a smaller scale, too.

  • jess 5 years ago

    amazing. love this.

  • Kylie 5 years ago

    I remember falling in love with this house when I saw it in Karen Mc Cartney’s book on iconic houses, nice to see it again with a loving, respectful new owner.

  • Gab 5 years ago

    I want to live there!

  • Marian Wiltshire 5 years ago

    After building a very personal home, I can’t imagine just selling it to anyone (hopefully that day is a VERY long way away) I love the fact he interviewed potential buyers too. I must admit that modernist principals have infiltrated our little home. We thought long and hard about the design, making it small, but every space needed to be used effectively. Our hut is only 108m2, which scared a lot of people (including the bank!) but the use of windows and natural light has meant it feels so much more spacious than that. I love these modernist houses you feature!

  • lizzz 5 years ago

    Annalisa. & this house …a perfect match!!!

  • Megan 5 years ago

    Houselovers, this house and Annalisa are so wonderful in person. If there are spaces left book now to listen to her and see the house at the next open. Tres magnificent! MM

  • jo 5 years ago

    Annalisa was one of my teachers this year and yes, she is an amazing wealth of knowledge and our class was lucky enough to be given a personal tour of her home last year. Definitely book!

  • Katherine 5 years ago

    What a feast of style!I think the clever way the owner of this house has used orange with the wood is brilliant. I was absolutely delighted to see that pots I made for Cloth were used in the entrance hall!
    Love this site!!

  • Manini 5 years ago

    I love this retro home,tooooo awesome!!!

  • Eveline 4 years ago

    I’ve only recently met you, but I can see the resonance between such special, delightful and characterful house and you; indeed a happy fate. Great story and images!

  • Simon Herbert 3 years ago

    I was very fortunate to have had both Pam and Russell as tutors during my tme at UNSW. The House was Russell and Russell was the house!

    I visited them on a few occaissions and it never mattered what time of the day or time of year the house i remember as it is replicated in these photos.

    Achieving this kind of simplicity and craftsmanship in design is not easy. Annalisa, I hope you enjoy living here as much as I enjoyed visting.

    Best Wishes

  • Brian Ridley 8 months ago

    This house brings back memories for me working there as a carpenter in 1963 renovating, meeting Russell and Pam. The builders I worked for at this time were CH and CR Ellis. Also worked for the same builders on Justice Jacob’s house at 36 Cleveland st Wahroonga, designed by Russell Jack (Allen, Jack and Cottier) . This house won the Wilkinson Award in 1963.

    Russell would visit the Jacob’s house construction site to discuss progress with the builder Bob Ellis (C. R. Ellis). Father and son builders.

    The Jack house was high set on timber posts to span the source and upper reach of Cockle Creek which ran down to the upper reach of Cowan Creek at Bobbin Head in the Kur-ing-gai Chase. The house being virtually on the Park boundary was designed to have no impact on the Kur-ing-gai National Park environment.


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