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A Spanish Mission Wonderland In Tamarama

Homes

The apartment of film and TV directors Jordana Johnson and Charlie Ford is one of those rare rental properties most Sydneysiders only dream of. 

Located in a circa 1915 Spanish Mission building, the apartment’s elevated position in Tamarama (on aptly named Wonderland Avenue!) provides views to the ocean in one direction, and the building’s leafy garden on the other, while offering plenty of interior space for the couple’s sentimental art collection. 

We’re very excited to share this special little home with you!

11th May, 2022

Painting by Annalisa Ferraris. Tall white vase by Sam Shub (Charlie’s grandfather). Small white sculpture by Nabilah Nordin. Parker dining chairs and table. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Directors Jordana Johnson and Charlie Ford with their dog, Bibi. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Original artwork of Restaurant Hubert’s chicken liver parfait by Anna Vu of Good Food Crap Drawing. Small green ceramic sculpture by Nicolette Johnson. Tall green vase by Sam Shub (Charlie’s grandfather). Small white sculpture by Nabilah Nordin. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Original artwork of Restaurant Hubert’s chicken liver parfait by Anna Vu of Good Food Crap Drawing. Small green ceramic sculpture by Nicolette Johnson. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Tall green vase by Sam Shub (Charlie’s grandfather). Small vintage vase. Paintings and photography by Charlie Ford, Nick Modrzewski, Kris Andrew Small, Nabilah Nordin, Mark Chu, Micke Lindeberg, Otis Hope Carey, Jake Reston and Sam Shub. Large photo artwork by Charlie Ford. Table gifted by Charlie’s grandmother. Sideboard that Jordana found on the street and refurbished. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

The living room opens to the building’s communal garden below. Paintings by Sam Shub. Vintage Italian white cane outdoor furniture set. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Vintage Italian white cane outdoor furniture set. Dutch vintage lamp from Vampt Vintage Design. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Tessa lounge and the ocean view! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Throw by Micke Lindebergh x Slowdown Studio. Vintage mirror, rug, lounge, and side tables. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Paintings by Sam Shub. Mobile by Walk In The Park Studio. Vintage ’70s lamp and side table from Mitchell Road Antique & Design Centre. Vintage side table from Curated Spaces. Throw by Slowdown Studio. Bed linen by Bed Threads. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Mobile by Walk In The Park Studio. Lamp by Curated Spaces. Stained glass artwork by Poppy Templeton.. Vintage drawers. Worlde electric piano. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

The tiled, sunny bathroom. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Tamarama’s best apartment balcony! Paintings by Sam Shub. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 11th May 2022

‘We’d describe it as warm, considered, inspiring, fun and functional. We didn’t want it to be too perfect or too ‘one style’, like mid-century or contemporary.’ 

Jordana Johnson, film and TV producer and director, and Charlie Ford, film and TV director and photographer, are living the dream Sydney life in their beautiful Spanish mission apartment located just steps from the beach.

The couple and co-founders of film production company Sweater Weather first discovered the apartment in late 2020 when looking to move further out and be closer to nature. Instead, they found everything they were looking for in the heart of Tamarama: a Spanish mission apartment that looks out to a shared leafy backyard on one side, and ocean views on the other!

‘When we entered the apartment for the first time, we absolutely loved the little European front balcony overlooking the ocean, but it was when we walked through and saw the main bedroom overlooking the boulder and garden that we were sold,’ says Charlie. ‘You can see other houses in the gully, the hills, and the ocean, which sometimes if you squint, makes it feel like you could be in Mexico, California, or in Europe somewhere overlooking the Mediterranean.’

The leafy backyard is seemingly carved from sandstone and located directly below the couple’s living room balcony. Residents in the building utilise this communal space year-round, but especially over Sydney’s 2021 lockdowns where time outdoors was otherwise restricted. ‘We got to know all of our neighbours and found it’s such a lovely community to be a part of… It’s the first time either of us have known all of our neighbours in years,’ says Charlie. ‘We love that communal aspect of it, so does our dog Bibi, who spends most of her days going in and out of everyone’s apartments.’

The apartment is smaller than Jordana and Charlie’s previous homes, so they’ve carefully furnished and styled it, so as not to overwhelm the arched windows and twisted interior columns. ‘I guess we’d describe it as warm, considered, inspiring, fun and functional. We didn’t want it to be too perfect or too ‘one style’, like mid-century or contemporary,’ says Charlie.

On every surface are works from the couple’s personal art collection, including paintings and ceramics by friends and Charlie’s late grandfather, Sam Shub. ‘Once he retired, he painted every day for 30 years in his home studio in Melbourne,’ says Charlie. ‘Now that he’s passed away, it’s really special to have these parts of him in my life and a constant reminder of the joy in creating for creating’s sake.’

Charlie has also taken the opportunity to display his own photographic works in the apartment as part of his recent debut solo show, Moods of Wonderland. ‘The show of 21 medium format film images was all captured in our neighbourhood during lockdown, so it felt right to exhibit them in the space that they were created in,’ Charlie says. ‘It was really special to share the works with our friends, strangers and neighbours by welcoming them into our intimate space for two weeks.’ 

Above all, Jordana and Charlie hope their apartment is comfortable, welcoming, and a place where guests feel at home.

‘Things can get scratched and dented and it just adds to their character, so there are no white couches or fragile rugs or furnishings that could cause us stress,’ Charlie says. ‘We want it just to feel like a space you want to be inside of for hours, and feel inspired to create within.’

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net