Australian Homes

Geraldine Cleary

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 13th February 2013

The Brisbane home of Geraldine Cleary.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Looking through to the kitchen from lounge – bird sculpture on right ‘Swell’ by Michael Zavros, 2008.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Artwork in loungeroom, top shelf from left to right by Robyn Medec, Peter Harding. Next row – studies by Christopher Battersby and Shelly Kelly. ‘The wooden box is some sort of Japanese mould – not an artwork as such but a beautiful gift displayed as if it is an artwork’ says Geraldine.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Brisbane home of Geraldine Cleary.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

This distinctive home in Brisbane’s New Farm will probably need no introduction to Australian architecture aficionados. Known as the ‘D House’, it has been published widely, and has won many awards, including the Royal Australian  Institute of Architects National Award and The Robin Boyd Award for best residential architecture in 2000.  Having visited the home in person, I must say it’s easy to see why this clever little house has received so many accolades. There is a truly magical energy about this space. It unfolds like a little box of secrets – full of clever, understated design elements and a meticulous attention to detail. There’s a nod to Japanese architecture here, and 1950s modernism too – evident in the clean lines and elongated horizontal forms, the way light moves through the space throughout the day, the natural air flow, and the way each interior space connects to the outdoors. I love the succinctness and simplicity here – there is something so serene and calm about this layout, particularly the seamless transitions from interior to exterior spaces, which of course perfectly complement Brisbane’s amazing climate!

The D house is not a large home – it’s a modest, perfectly proportioned abode, designed by revered Brisbane architecture firm Donovan Hill, for their client and friend Geraldine Cleary, a researcher in health and social policy. Geraldine first purchased the property in 1991, subdividing it and re-building during Brisbane’s period of urban renewal in 1994.

As all architects and those who commission their services know, designing a new home from scratch is a very complex problem-solving puzzle! Considerations of scale, proportion, light, functionality and of course the dreaded council restrictions (!!) all come into play… and then on top of everything, it has to look good! When asked why she enlisted Donovan Hill to design her home, Geraldine explains –

‘I approached Timothy Hill, who I knew socially, because he was interested in my brief, which spoke to proportions of rooms, flexibility of use, management of light and heat, appreciation of the positives of living close to the activity of a busy street, council preference for ‘timber and tin workers cottage styles’ as the only markers of federation values at the time, as well as tight budgetary constraints!’ explains Geraldine. ‘Having lived in the 1897 cottage on the original block, I had been able to experience the deficiencies of the workers cottage for the climate, orientation, privacy, acoustics etc, even though the house was full of charm in other ways’ she says.

Having lived in other buildings in other cities and countries, Geraldine was interested in heritage values, but wasn’t looking for a particular aesthetic from an architect. Instead, she says, her focus was on creating ‘a quality building – a flexible and enjoyable environment for me and others who might live here in the future’.  To this end, Timothy was given a clever, articulate brief – specific in regards to the necessary functions of the home, but more open when it came to form and aesthetic decisions. The results speak for themselves.

When asked what she loves most about living here, it’s clear Geraldine is only too aware of the ‘specialness’ of her little haven. ‘I love returning home to the house everyday or after a trip away and opening the doors to experience the plan and the proportions, the lovely light and shadow, the views of the sky, the feeling of being in a sequestered zone while being so close to the activity of the street. I also love the way visitors enjoy the house’.

BIG thanks to Geraldine for sharing her very special home with us today – a clever and significant example of contemporary Australian architecture at its best! Today’s home is the last one I have up my sleeve from Brisbane – better get back up there soon…

Such a tight, clever floor plan and beautiful complementary materials give this home a sense of calm. Bird sculpture on right ‘Swell’ by Michael Zavros, 2008.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Seamless lines from exterior to interior.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Clever details.  The shot on the right shows the threshold from rear courtyard to interior – the pebbles and stone pavers continue from outside into the home.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bathroom details – so Japanese, I love it!  I kind of love the washing on the line outside too…!  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Bronze sculpture – ‘Trophy’ by Michael Zavros, 2010.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Exterior details.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Entrance.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Street view.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Street view through to lounge room.  Photography – Jared Fowler, Styling / Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 13th February 2013


  • Brismod 4 years ago

    Such a fabulous home. xx

  • Gaz 4 years ago

    Great home and great dappled light photo Jared! Would love to see more Brisbane houses. Thanks!

  • katie 4 years ago

    What an exciting, unique home. The tiled feature wall in the garden is beautiful

  • Barbara 4 years ago

    Oh my…. to me this house is PERFECT!! Thanks for making my day, again.

  • Adriana 4 years ago

    Lucy your on a roll! The last 5 posts have to be some of your best. Thank you

  • Anastasia 4 years ago

    What a beautiful Sanctuary! Gorgeous!

  • feyza 4 years ago

    This is perfect! Simple and austere-wabi sabi! The Japanese moulds are for wagashi which are Japanese traditional sweets.

  • Jane 4 years ago

    Love the paving/stones/timber and the seamless indoor to outdoor…

  • Ben 4 years ago

    Oh my. This is truly beautiful.

  • gemma 4 years ago

    this house is amazing! so beautiful.

  • mr jason grant 4 years ago

    Lucy I LOVE this house and such great photography too well done!

  • Samone 4 years ago


  • Laura 4 years ago

    Wow! So beautiful….I’d love a house just like this.

  • Harriet 4 years ago

    Divine. Pretty much my dream home – will be referring to these images come renovation time!

  • Susie 4 years ago

    This is a beauty it also features in Iconic Australian Homes publication and it so great to see a different view into this amazing home Well done
    Love the yellow in the bedroom been playing with yellows can you try to find out for me which yellow this is PLEASE cheers

  • The Yellow Dance Spot 4 years ago

    Stunning home!

  • tiel 4 years ago

    love it. DH are great architects. really well styled. Especially love the organic simplified feel.

  • Clare 4 years ago

    Also loving the tiled feature wall! Anyone got tips on what the tiles are?

  • Sonya 4 years ago

    Fresh + beautiful Brisbane home photo story!

  • Camilla 4 years ago

    Much to love in this house. Just beautiful!

  • Carly 4 years ago

    I have to agree, this house is STUNNING! The beautiful colours depict such a serenity. I live in New Farm… I will have to go and do some spying…

  • Georgina Campbell 4 years ago

    Whaaat, no bedroom shots!

  • Kerry S 4 years ago

    Beautiful beautiful house with such poetry and restraint in the details

  • cath 4 years ago

    Amazing i love it how is the concrete floor finished is it a burnished look do they still put a polish on it or is zero exposure cheers cath

  • Tim 4 years ago

    As ever it is great to get a peek inside a Donovan Hill house. I love the textures, and for a house that was done around 2000 how fresh it is today. Thanks for featuring.

  • Kendall 4 years ago

    Amazing photos Lucy, the house looks unbelievable!

  • Carly 4 years ago

    I have always walked past this home in New Farm and from the exterior thought it was so amazing. Thank you for showing us the beautiful interior details as well! I am blown away.

  • Dave | JapaneseTrash 4 years ago

    Lucy, your styling is impeccable — this house is a real delight; thanks so much for capturing it and bringing it to us.

  • jen 4 years ago

    such a gorgeous home. i love that there is an edited amount of things. this seems to be about living well, not just the building. wonderful.

  • Marmalade 4 years ago

    Wow…. stunning. This place is so zen, I almost feel the nod to Japanese architecture becoming a full bow. I am in love with the tiling and garden aspects, as well as the surface / textural elements and incredibly intelligent, succinct composition. What a beautiful, serene, inspirational space.

  • Nikki 4 years ago

    Such a beautiful simple, organic and serene space. Beautiful lines. Very envious. Also love the classic Danish furniture accents! Thanks.

  • Tina 4 years ago

    I have seen this house before in magazines, but these are the bests shots I have seen of it. Thanks Lucy, lovely to see another beautiful Brisbane home. I could live there.

  • Rachael Bernstone 4 years ago

    Timothy Hill is a genius and I when I grow up I’m going to ask him to design my house. This house is beautiful, obviously Geraldine was a great client to allow it to unfold as it did. Love the pics, thanks Lucy.

  • Annie Louis 4 years ago

    I love everything about this house. The loungeroom, the collection of artwork, the wood colored window panels, and the diced and the torquoised-greenish diced details of the exterior are really good choices. The house has a very modern and spacious look, and yet carefully not minimalistic in approach. I think it is simply perfect. :)

  • Internet Cafe 4 years ago

    I much like the precious info you give within your reports.I will bookmark your blog website and check out once more right here regularly.I’m particularly sure I will find out quite a lot of latest things most suitable right here! Superior luck with the subsequent!

  • marissa 4 years ago

    Oh my, so beautiful…I would love to live in this home ;-)

  • Valerio 3 years ago

    What a truly stunning home! I especially love the outside areas, they’re quirky and different but still work. When can I move in?

  • Shaina A 2 years ago


    This is an amazing interior and a jaw dropping project. I’m just curious if you happen to have the sectional drawing of the D House. I’m currently working on a project in regards to this building for uni and I’m having a bit of a struggle looking for the original drawings/drawings of this particular project and I was just hoping to get a little help. Hope to hear from you soon! Thank you so much

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