they sure don’t build houses like they used to…
Posted in interiors, pia's photos, sydney January 21st, 2010 by pia



Under palm trees and ferns, through an ancient archway and across a grand lawn is an incredibly inspiring slice of Sydney history called Vaucluse House. I have visited this house many times over the years. Mostly to wander the gardens and imagine the life of all who have nurtured the estate over the years. Because it’s not the opulence of this home that I love, it’s the simplicity in the detail of the way things were…






Of all the bedrooms in the house this is my favourite – it is tucked at the end of an upstairs hall. I can’t remember whose room it belonged to in its day, but it inspires me all the same. The most incredible space in the house though, without a doubt, is the kitchen and adjoining larder and dairy rooms…



The simple, functional furnishings and design are beautiful…



And what house is complete without the ultimate head housemaid’s room a.k.a in more modern times as “the laundry room”…



Isn’t it glorious? One of the first times I ever visited Vaucluse House was for an evening play in the gardens. It was a date with my boyfriend, I was just 18 years old. He had packed a delicious evening picnic and when we arrived we were instructed to find a patch of lawn to call our own.  The audience were scattered across the front grounds, only about 30 people in total. Before the play began we ate our picnic, and watched the sun begin to set in the sky. Before the night fell the performance began. It was Lady Chatterly’s Lover.


Various scenes were played out in various parts of the estate, and the audience were quietly informed at the end of each scene to meet at the stables, or near the well, or by the garden gate.  It was pitch black, the stars shone brightly above and the air was balmy. I was mesmerized – completely enraptured by the romance, and scenery.   It remains to be one of the most wonderful performances (and yes, dates) I have ever encountered…


I’m not sure if they still hold plays in the gardens of Vaucluse House. But a visit to the house and then lunch in the tearooms is just as wonderful.

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  1. Libby Williams says

    Aah, yes, glorious house. I have imagined living there, sashaying down that staircase under the dome of light and air. Have been to antique quilt exhibitions there – perfect setting! Gardens are so lovely too. A little piece of gentle paradise.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  2. michael says

    I hear ya sister.
    bring on the simplicity.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  3. theaxx says

    I have a photo of “Mr visionary” and I cornily standing just under that arch and looking proud of ourselves. I’m always amazed by the veggie garden when we go to vaucluse house… yum yum!!


    January 21st, 2010 | #

  4. pygmy says

    Sounds like a wonderful date! And such beautiful images! Love that table in the kitchen.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  5. Yvette says


    January 21st, 2010 | #

  6. heather says

    Now that’s a hard working house! The spacious layout was built for living. Lovely.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  7. Liberty Post Editor says

    Pia, so incredible. And guess what? I’m actually leading a ‘Terrarium’ Workshop next week…I see one above! Wonderful post..I feel like I was there.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  8. jules @ the diversion project says

    Gorgeous property and lovely images!

    That raspberry red bed spread is going to haunt me!! (in a good way 🙂


    January 21st, 2010 | #

  9. Rachel says

    Lovely–what a nice post to read first thing in the morning!

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  10. erin says

    magic. those kitchen shots are beyond lovely.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  11. Marina says

    Stunning photos and what an amazing place this is. I want to go into those rooms! I love all the beautiful details and tools left out. Thank you for sharing!

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  12. lynne says

    just ahhhhhhhh

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  13. cindy says

    WOW! That’s one lovely house! Love the kitchen aswell, best place of the house…. wich, by the way: I NEED BADLY! 😛

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  14. Yoli says

    Pia I am blown away. How devine a place.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  15. Kate says

    Such a sweet romantic story! It looks amazing, I have added it to my places to visit before I rest my head for the last time. Who knows maybe I will have my own magical night?

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  16. kathi says

    i could spend many happy hours on that adorable little patio.
    beautiful photos…beautiful house. thanks for sharing!

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  17. Ivette says

    Loved this post. Beautiful. Stunning. Inspiring. I agree…the kitchen is wonderful. Thanks, Pia.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  18. Michelle Brown says

    Thank you for sharing these photos with us; you certainly know how to draw our attention to the detail. And a lovely story – those kind of memories just stick with you. I have similar memories of A Midsummers’ Nights Dream in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens.. it was pure magic and filled with delight at every turn.

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  19. Jan Fawke says

    Gosh,it’s ages since I visited – and i live in the same city. I remember as a child growing up in Wollongong,my first visit. I’m sure it’s what sparked off my lifelong love of history,architecture and interiors- which was further fuelled by 4 years living in England in the 70’s.Thanks,Pia,for the lovely photos

    January 21st, 2010 | #

  20. Leanne T says

    i have lived in Sydney all these years and have never been! i must go! thanks for this post.

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  21. esme says

    i love the branches doorway! it’s stunning! and I agree, the simplicity is beautiful. Is the third photo down a terrarium?

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  22. Wendy says

    I too have lived in Sydney for years and never visited the house, it is truly beautiful.
    Your memory of your date sounds enchanting:)

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  23. Hilary says

    Love those stone floors and the old world charm.

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  24. Jodi says

    aaaah Pia. I’m in love with your memory!!! The house is nice too.

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  25. Lynne says

    I just love those kitchens, I want to get an apron on and start baking! We have similar ones in Petworth House in West Sussex. Just lovely! I really am enjoying your blog

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  26. Cassandra says

    Really lovely photos Pia.

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  27. Courtney says

    That archway! Amazing. And, the house is absolutely beautiful in its simple details. Oh, and what a date! The evening sounds like it was truly magical. Rather makes me swoon just imagining such a night! Thanks for sharing not only the beautiful home, but your memory too.

    January 22nd, 2010 | #

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    January 22nd, 2010 | #

  29. rufusandco says

    Beautiful post. Thanks so much for the inspiring start to my day.

    January 23rd, 2010 | #

  30. liza says

    Your photos of it are glorious, too. The bedroom is so sweet.

    January 23rd, 2010 | #

  31. beauty comma says

    it’s really glorious! i can see why keep returning. it makes one wish for a simpler life, doesn’t it? not as in “easier”, but as in less stuff and less noise – both auditive and visual.

    January 25th, 2010 | #

  32. saer says

    That kitchen is so raw and beautiful..I want to go to there.

    January 25th, 2010 | #

  33. hedy says

    Hartelijk Gefeliciteerd Pia! I hope this year you will celebrate your b’day without a flu or cold. Not too difficult I guess seen the hot Sydney weather lately. Have a wonderful day!

    January 26th, 2010 | #

  34. sian says

    i want that kitchen…..

    January 26th, 2010 | #

  35. trixi says

    I’ve always loved visiting Vaucluse House. I hope you didn’t miss the veggie garden or the stables with it’s wall of signatures.

    January 26th, 2010 | #

  36. Nicole says

    I used to work for the HHT, which runs Vaucluse House, and it was one of my favourite of their 14 museums. I have such happy memories of attending performances and festivals there and spent a lot of time photographing the house. For anyone who loves Vaucluse House, you may also want to visit Elizabeth Bay House, which I love almost as much!

    January 27th, 2010 | #

  37. Brabourne Farm says

    Our wedding was held on the lawn at the front of the house and the reception in the tea rooms so as you can imagine it holds very special memories for me. It really is one of the loveliest places in Sydney. Leigh

    January 28th, 2010 | #

  38. leigh ann says

    the subtle color palate in the image with the mellons is just wonderful. it had to save it. so pretty.

    February 7th, 2010 | #

  39. nikole says

    so glorious, pia. i wish to move in tomorrow.

    July 27th, 2010 | #

  40. Gillian says

    I have the great privilege to look after this house as manager and can truly say that this estate is a hidden gem amongst the maddness. I invite you all to enjoy, jazz in the garden in November or Get “lost in the romantics” in Summer and play croquet while sipping lemonade in between a spot of drawing on the lawns (materials supplied) It may well be a perfect first date. Pia, you will pleased to hear that I am also looking into the return of the Lady C’s Lover style of play in the grounds.

    August 2nd, 2010 | #

  41. charlotte* says

    Thank you Pia for this post on this amazing house… I have hearted three of the pictures on my “we heart it” account are you ok with this? I am not sure if these pictures are yours or the property of the vaucluse house… Gillian, maybe you can also give me your approval? It’s very easy for me to unheart them if you don’t wish for me to do so! Hearting is just like listing something on a personal page as something you really love… here’s the link to my page:

    August 9th, 2010 | #

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