Leslie Walford’s penthouse

Princeton, Double Bay NSW

The penthouse at Princeton in Double Bay was the home of interior designer Leslie Walford from 1975 until his death in 2012.

Although situated on the top floor, the penthouse actually resembles a small bungalow placed atop the 1939 apartment block. An outdoor terrace wraps around the whole apartment and the front rooms enjoy views north across Sydney Harbour.

Walford completely redecorated the apartment in the mid to late 1970s, initially making some structural changes by adding the drawing room fireplace and knocking out walls and ceilings to create new spaces and unify the three front rooms: drawing room, entrance lobby and dining room. An Espie Dods-designed pergola was built on the terrace in 1978. Although new soft furnishings and wallpapers were added, Walford already owned about 90% of the furniture and artwork used, which included antiques Walford brought to Australia in 1956 when he returned to start his business, and items passed down through his family, many following the breakup of his mother’s Burradoo home in the 1960s. The dining room only became a Chinoiserie inspired space in 1999 with the addition of ‘Grand tableau chinois’ curtains and fabric clad walls, a Fortuny ceiling light and the ceiling and faux-bamboo curtain rods painted by Brian Barrow.

For his interior design schemes, Walford was always happy to mix antiques with contemporary art and furnishings. But for his own home Walford had a more personal relationship to its contents; he said: “my attitude is that everything I have is a friendly treasure. I vividly remember finding them and they remind me of a happy time or occasion.”

The contents of the apartment were auctioned in November 2012 and the penthouse sold the following year.

Photographer: Brenton McGeachie

Date Photographed: September 2012

Original image format: born digital

Copyright: Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Photograph © Brenton McGeachie

Further reading: Colin Stanley-Hill, ‘The master of design’, Australian Home Beautiful, November 1987, pp.52-56.

Marion von Alderstein, ‘Pavilion in the sky’, Vogue Australia, October 1979, pp.101-106

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