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January 12, 2014

At home in Beirut

Adelaide’s South-West quarter is so unlike its North-East counterpart. Affectionately nicknamed “Beirut” by residents years ago, the South-West’s rambling, shabby and homely feel is in stark contrast to the modern, well-to-do atmosphere of the so-called “Paris” quarter in the North-East.

  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Styling: Marie Totsikas
  • Pictures: Josie Withers

Houses in Adelaide’s west are not to everybody’s taste but those who choose to live in them  tend to fall in love with them. Less apartment block or townhouse, and more crumbling centuries-old miners’ cottage, these homes might lack air conditioning but could not be accused of being character-deficient.

When considering the move from Glanville into the city, partners Daniel Havey and Kelly Barrett and Kelly’s 13-year-old-son Arie, didn’t think to look outside of the south-west’s borders.

“The wind kind of just blew us this way,” says Daniel.

“We definitely wanted to look only in this area,” adds Kelly. “It’s just cool, and it definitely has a good feel. I think the Hutt Street end just doesn’t suit us as much.”

Casually stylish in the lounge room

Casually stylish in the lounge room

“This feels a bit more diverse and relaxed,” says Daniel. “It’s a little crustier – but in a good way. And you can feel there’s a really strong community here, with the great community garden and everything.”

“There’s a sense of proximity to things happening and other people – that gets a bit lost in the ’burbs…”

The home they settled in is an oddlyshaped cottage with a loft bedroom, tucked down a little lane near the infamous late-night karaoke spot La Sing.

Kelly and Daniel’s aesthetic – Daniel has a tendency to bring home stray pieces of old furniture and memorabilia – is uniquely suited to the house. With its pot-belly wood heater in the lounge sitting a little oddly alongside the modern see-through staircase up to the loft bedroom, the rooms could look strange if it weren’t for the couple’s eclectic decorating touch.

While Daniel has a reel-to-reel machine and historic photographs, Kelly’s prized possession is their fourposter bed that had to be semi-dismantled and handed up over the balcony to get into the house at all.

Kelly's favourite part of the house

Kelly’s favourite part of the house


“Kelly, Daniel and Arie’s place is right across the road from the construction site of a new apartment block, but they have barely a word to say about the banging and clanging that must go on there – giving us hope yet that development can be done in a way that is sensitive to the needs of existing Adelaide residents.”

But it was worthwhile because that bed (and the view it affords over a tree that has taken root in the back lane) has become one of Kelly’s favourite parts of the house.

“I love lying in my bed, looking out at the tree. All you can see is the tree, you can’t see anything else and it’s just lovely,” she says. “This is our first spring here, and it’s very beautiful.”

Coming from a place with a big garden, this sense of greenery has been an important element to keep as they made the move into the city. The edible garden that grows in pots on the front porch is part of the replacement, as are the shared garden beds housed in the back lane.

The back courtyard

The back courtyard

Daniel says there have been a few adaptations and adjustments like this one, but they add up to a good change.

“There’s a sense of proximity to things happening and other people – that gets a bit lost in the ’burbs because you have that three-bedroom, big backyard, don’t talk to the neighbours kind of thing,” he says.

“It’s not like we’re all hanging out with the neighbours here, but there’s a different sense about it – there’s a feeling of shared space and it’s more suited to building a community.

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