In 1958, John & Sheila Palmer purchased a recently subdivided battle-axe block in the Sydney suburb of Turramurra and commissioned architects John Allen & Russell C Jack to design a family home.
A narrow driveway leads to the house that reveals little at first. Upon entering, to the left is a purpose-designed children’s domain of four inter-locking bedrooms off a playroom facing onto a screened inner courtyard. To the right, the house opens up to the living area with floor to ceiling windows facing a bush view that slopes away to the north.
The house sits in harmony with the landscape with timber finishes and neutral colours originally used throughout. Externally, the bagged brick work is painted off white, which was matched internally by mostly white walls and ceilings, clear finished panels on cupboards and fixtures, off-white floor rugs, and bleached calico curtains. Colour was introduced only by paintings and a dividing wall between living and dining room covered in green Thai silk (removed prior to this photo shoot in 2001). The Palmers lived in the house until 2000.
The Palmer House is one of five houses and one site of a former house photographed for ‘Fifties houses: plus or minus?’, an exhibition held at Rose Seidler House in 2001. Each of these houses had featured in the 1961 exhibition, 15 Houses by Sydney Architects. The 2001 exhibition asked the questions: ‘Forty years on, what has happened to the… Sydney houses? Have they ‘stood the test of time’, been adapted or conserved, loved or lost?’
Jennifer Taylor, An Australian identity: houses for Sydney 1953-63, Dept. of Architecture, University of Sydney, Sydney, 1972.
Geoffrey London, Philip Goad, Conrad Hamann, 150: an unfinished experiment in living: Australian houses 1950-65, UWA Publishing, Crawley WA, 2017.
Royal Australian Institute of Architects, NSW Chapter, 15 houses by Sydney architects: exhibition, Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 1961.
Fifties houses: plus or minus?: exhibition held from 28 October 2001 at Rose Seidler House [exhibition brochure], Historic Houses Trust of NSW, Sydney, 2001.