YOUR MAMA’S NOTES: Although originally reported in the Australian media, it was from the Stateside kids at Curbed that we first caught wind that stage-trained two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and her playwright-director husband Andrew Upton hoisted their spectacular riverside spread in the historic Sydney suburb of Hunter’s Hill up for sale with an asking price of AUS$20 million, an amount our trusty currency conversion contraption indicates equates to US$14.7356 million at today’s rates. So the reportage goes, the couple acquired the Jacaranda tree-dotted property, known as “Bulwarra,” in 2005 for about AUS$10 million and quickly embarked on a comprehensive renovation and expansion collaboratively overseen, per listing details, by architect Steven Lesiuk and architect-interior designer Nadine Alwill. The boldly unconventional but undeniably deft overhaul reportedly cost the Upton-Blanchetts an estimated AUS$8 million and just about doubled the sized of the original, circa 1877 sandstone manor house with the addition of an aggressively modern, glass-fronted wing linked by a central stair hall with sculptural steel staircase.
Tailored formal living and dining rooms located in the original residence were stripped of most architectural detailing, fitted with imported American oak floors and decked out with a carefully curated collection of pedigreed furnishings and understated contemporary artworks. A capacious and sleek, chef-accommodating kitchen in the new section features polished concrete floors, a huge informal dining space and direct terrace access. An upper-level family room opens to a veranda, a lower-level library/office has a dramatic double-height ceiling, and a self-contained guesthouse/studio nestled into the hillside below the back of the house features a full kitchen, polished concrete floors, and floor-to-ceiling windows fitted with slatted exterior shades that can be moved to modulate light and privacy. The main residence’s five bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms include three guest/family bedrooms that each open to a shared veranda and a master suite that occupies its own wing on the upper floor and encompasses a sky-lit dressing room and a river-view bathroom.
The walled, gated and no-doubt thoroughly secured grounds, worked over, according to listing details, by accomplished landscape architect Will Dangar, measures in at 3,642-square-meters according to online marketing materials — that’s not quite an acre for all us Americans — and include a small gated motor court and lushly planted courtyard entry garden. At the back, a deep veranda and stone dining terrace give way to a broad sweep of lawn, a swimming pool and spa with integrated shade pergola, a trampoline platform, and a tennis court set near the river’s edge.
The couple’s five-year long co-artistic directorship of the prestigious Sydney Theatre Company came to an end in 2013, and Mister Upton signed on another for three years — his tenure comes to an end at the end of this year — and so the stories go, the couple want to sell their big Sydney spread as they plan to move to the United States.
Listing photos: Christie’s International Real Estate