On the corner of MacLeay Street and Challis Avenue in Potts Point sits a 19th-century three-level terrace house with a white facade, red-brick chimneys and a quaint balcony with a Victorian trellis.
On the ground floor you’ll find revamped Merivale bistro Lotus 2.0 (with Dan Hong at the helm) and designer boutique Arida. Occupying the upper floors is III Rooms Sydney, three self-contained, short-stay apartments – each one decked out by a respected Australian furniture design house.
Property investor Tony Benjamin and his partner, jewellery designer Chrissi James, have admired the ornate building for years, so when owner Justin Hemmes (of the Merivale group) placed it on the market, the pair snapped it up hours before it went to auction.
“We always admired the aesthetic and the heritage of this particular property. It’s probably the most beautiful [building] in Potts Point, and on the best corner as well,” James tells Broadsheet.
III Rooms Sydney was inspired by similar concepts the couple had encountered on their travels, such as Three Rooms in Paris and The Apartment by the Line in New York and Los Angeles. When choosing a place to stay, they always look at location, comfort and design – three elements that informed the way III Rooms Sydney was brought to life.
They asked three of Australia’s most stylish furniture houses – luxe and beachy MCM House; environmentally conscience and elegant Jardan; and purveyor of local and international crafts Cult Design – to each curate an apartment that speaks to their aesthetic, ethos and values. And if you like any of the pieces in your temporary home, it’s easy to find them online and purchase directly from the designer.
“We’d personally bought furniture from them for our home, so naturally we approached businesses we believed in,” James says. “We decided to give them a blank canvas – an apartment where they can really design a home that represents them.”
MCM House’s two-bedroom apartment has lots of pale timber (chairs, tables and floorboards) accentuated by soft furnishings in pale rose, and the odd piece of furniture in olive green. The kitchen has black-and-white tiled flooring; hanging above the dining table is an eye-catching print by photographer Simon Davidson of a red car in a haze of pink and purple burn-out smoke, which introduces vibrancy and an element of fun.
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom Jardan apartment has more of an art deco aesthetic thanks to the artwork and a striking fan-shaped mirror above the ornate tiled fireplace. All the furniture was handcrafted in its Melbourne manufacturing facility.
Cult’s three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment is punctuated by artwork and pieces in bold, dark colours. One of the bedroom walls is painted a moody, deep navy; there’s soft leather seating in black and dark peach; and the small balcony has green outdoor furniture that mimics the leafy plane trees.
“They’re all very unique and exactly what you would expect from each brand. When you open up each apartment door you know exactly which brand’s you’ve walked into,” says James. “Each one has got beautiful air and light, with windows that go from end to end.”
Benjamin and James have lived in Potts Point for more than 20 years. They love its bustling energy and outstanding restaurants – a list that includes vegetarian bistro Yellow, Japanese izakaya Cho Cho San, Italian institution Fratelli Paradiso and chic wine bar Monopole.
“Potts Point is a hive of activity, it’s just a cool spot to live in – and I think if you’re a traveller to Sydney, [a great place to stay too],” says James.
III Rooms Sydney start at $750 per night. The MCM House unit sleeps four people; the Jardan and Cult Design apartments sleep six. Book here.