Heritage home transformations

The Changing Colours of Artarmon

By Margot McKay

Our beautiful environment is the result of much planning and care by those who lived in Artarmon in past years. This planning culminated in statutory protection for the area following the Willoughby Local Environmental Plan of 1995 which has enabled the conservation of the area. In particular, the eastern side of the suburb has a variety of housing styles in lush garden settings reflecting the history of the district.

Exterior northbridge - after IMG_2339

Californian Bungalow style

From 1890 to 1915 the dominant house type was Federation Style, and it is these houses that are closest to the railway station. A little further from the station is the Californian Bungalows of the 1920’s. With the Depression and WWII there was relatively little development in the 1930’s and 1940’s; after the war, especially after 1969, there was much building of flats and it is these which dominate the area west of the station.

Original house colours were of varying shades of green, red and cream with quite elaborate paint work. For many years the traditional colours of Brunswick Green, Indian Red and Pale Cream have been used in the majority of houses. In recent times there has been a shift to more contemporary and simplistic colour schemes brought about by many and varied renovations. Most houses in Artarmon were built of solid brick, but more recent second storey and back additions often use materials requiring painting. In some instances brick houses have been rendered and painted.

For the brick house where the only colour adornment is in the windows, eaves, gutters, gables and doors, people are taking their cues from nature matching the colours of their gardens with their gutters and detail work. Colours such as pale eucalypt take on the hues of the gum trees popular in backyards. Greys like Ironstone in guttering tie in with the liver coloured bricks and red Marseille terracotta roof tiles that were originally used. All work well when teamed with shades of stone, cream and white. Most of the colours are greyed out and subdued which in our bright sunshine seems to work better than harsher, brighter shades.

When choosing your colours, bear in mind that light and texture will affect the overall look. If your house is north facing and hasn’t a lot of shade deeper cooler colours can be used where as if it is south facing you may consider a warmer lighter colour. The more textured the surface the more light absorbed and the darker the colour will read. The same will apply to paint finishes the lower the sheen level the deeper the colour.

Sympathetic colouring, matching the environment we live in, please both eye and mind. Artarmon, with its gardens, bush areas, and parkland, already has great beauty. Sensitive colouring enhances this natural aesthetic, and makes our suburb even more beautiful.


Footnote: Willoughby Council rules

  • All external material shall be in colour & textures which are compatible with the heritage character of the area.
  • A detailed schedule of finishes being a colour chart and sample board is to be submitted to an approved council heritage architect when lodging your DA
  • All painted finishes to be neutral recessive colours appropriate to the character of the conservation area.

If no building works being undertaken council advised previously painted surfaces should be in the same colour, however if neutral and recessive unlikely to have objections. An application to council is needed.


If we can help you with your heritage home transformation, we’d be delighted to talk to you. Please call us on 0402 855 299 or drop us a note.

This article was originally published in the Artarmon Gazette.