Patti Southern has been a trader of industrial, mid century and generally charming objects for over a decade. During this time, she and her firefighter husband, David, have lived in Sydney’s inner west, a vibrant and creative hub, dreaming about one day owning and converting a warehouse building to call home. The attraction of a warehouse building has been the dream of having enough space for family life plus space to warehouse and display their treasure trove of collectable objects.
After extending and renovating their family home in Stanmore, Patty came across the dilapidated bulky goods warehouse in St. Peters and instantly felt compelled to make an offer on it. The couple were, however, very aware that while the warehouse was a dream come true for them, their teenage daughters would need convincing. “We brought the girls to have a look at it and the look on their faces said it all. It wasn’t quite the picture of family living they had in mind. They couldn’t picture a street Christmas party on the busy road for instance” says Patti. Some persuasion was required, and the turning point for the teenage girls was the promise that the entire third level of the building could be their own teenage retreat, complete with their own entertaining area, gymnasium mats, table tennis tables and anything else they could dream of to fill the huge space. “Commercial buildings don’t make a great postcard for family living on first inspection. But often the sheer volume of space offers a blank canvas to get creative with new and exciting ways of living” says Patti.
The building had been on the market during the GFC and was empty for some time, so Patti and David were able to secure it for a good price, “we were lucky back then” says Patti. The challenge of re-modeling the spaces that had been simply a leather handbags storage facility with a small office, proved trickier. “We did it in stages, first the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms” says Patti. As the warehouses consisted of just wide-open spaces on all three levels, Patty and David designed the second floor as the hub of family living and commissioned a builder to erect the walls for the three bedrooms and a new bathroom.