I’ve always had a soft spot for the humble Sydney terrace.
I’ve never lived in one, so I’ve always romanticised terrace life. The lacework balustrades, bundles of pot plants overflowing onto the footpath, French doors opening out to the balcony upstairs, crisp white linen just visible in the shadows.
I’ve always imagined a chic inner city life in these terraces. With a stylish modernised kitchen, and perfectly preserved period features. The front, a vision of time gone by, the back a spacious oasis of indoors and out, flowing seamlessly into a hidden garden tucked away from the outside world.
It would be a romantic life of kids playing in the street where cars slow down, neighbours enjoying coffee together on the porch, and where the community garden is tended to and enjoyed by the whole street. It would be quiet, calm and warm.
I romanticise this life in much the same way I have romanticised living in other places around the world. Namely my beloved Paris. Just as the precious features of the terraces here grab by eye, my mind often floats to Parisian life on the fifth floor. The parquetry floors, tall double entrance doors, tiny balconies with big views and the smell of fresh bread wafting up from the Boulanger down below. There are many similarities between these two lives I realise. They both reflect the spirit, and community of life in the city. Compact, economical on space and time, precious with light and large on living together.
I think I romanticise this life because I know it’s not something I ever really, truly want. In fact I like it that way, a dream I don’t really need to consider. A dream that can’t be shattered if it’s kept a dream.
I often wander the streets of inner Sydney, sneaking glances into open terrace doors and lightened windows. Admiring rows of pretty, uniform facades, some wide-fronted and four stories tall, others low to the ground, with brightly painted front doors. Rows of similarity, and touches of vibrant individuality.
I admire the uniform pitch of the terrace roofs, the lacework on their balconies, and clusters of plants huddled around doorways barely off the footpath. I think of when these terraces were built, who lived there then, what they did, and what this neighbourhood would have been like. I wonder, who lives here now, do they love it? And how these lives would be so different.
I love everything about these Sydney terraces. The ones with tiny iron balconies, the ones with quaint overgrown front yards, the ones with no front yards at all. The ones with makeshift decks atop the garage out the back, the ones with miniature spiral staircases making room for extra living, the ones with ornate balustrades, stair runners and lead light windows down the hall. The ones above shopfronts, the ones down back alleyways. The ones built from iconic Sydney sandstone, the ones painted red, or white, or green. The ones with windows flung open and curtains billowing out in the breeze. The ones with a dog keeping watch from the open front door.
Sydney wouldn’t be Sydney without these terraces. I do hope they rarely change.