When Foxtel’s Selling Houses Australia decided to makeover an old house in Sydney owned by the Salvos, few were prepared for the amazing results, writes Faye Michelson.
What happens when you put a faded Federation-style house into the hands of a team of expert renovators? It’s given more than a lick of paint; it’s remodelled, repainted, redesigned and restored, ready for the future
It’s a fitting metaphor for this month’s 100th episode of popular Foxtel Lifestyle’s reality series Selling Houses Australia*, which renovates homes in need of a bit of TLC.
The century-old house in Petersham, in Sydney’s inner west, has been owned by The Salvation Army since 1920. The organisation decided to sell it to raise much-needed funds for its homeless service—the only problem was that it looked every one of its 100 years.
Enter host Andrew Winter, celebrity interior designer Shaynna Blaze and landscape designer Charlie Albone who marked the start of the show’s 10th season by taking up the challenge to give the house a new lease of life to make the most of one of Sydney’s hottest real estate areas.
“This is an amazing story and it’s not like anything else we’ve done,” Andrew told The Northern Star in Lismore, NSW, recently.
“The house was bought in an undesirable part of Sydney. It was cheap, but oh how that has turned around. [Petersham] has gone from an inner city no-go area to a very desirable inner city suburb.”
But, as Andrew says, the episode highlights more than just a stunning makeover. It also features stories of three people whose lives have been transformed through the Salvos. One of them, Owen, tells his story of being a homeless teenager whose life was turned around through the Salvos’ Oasis Youth Support Network, in Sydney.
What better way of celebrating a TV milestone than giving something back to the community?
“What better way of celebrating a TV milestone than giving something back to the community?” Andrew says.
“The Salvation Army is one remarkable charity that does exactly that. The 100th episode is far more than a little celebration; it is a chance for us all to be reminded of the work these guys do, often in very challenging circumstances.
“The stories, their history, and the classic Aussie home we focus on will not only raise money for the Salvos but it will be a unique and incredible way to celebrate 100 episodes.”
Renovations and filming began in mid-November last year, with the SHA construction crew and hosts working with a team of Salvation Army employees and volunteers who helped with painting, sanding and gardening to bring the property well and truly into the 21st century.
The Petersham house has a long history with the Salvos. It was bought for £1,150 on 2 December 1920. The principal of the Salvation Army’s school for officer training lived in the house for a number of years until the Petersham training college closed during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Since then, the house has been home to a succession of Salvation Army officers.
To celebrate the series’ milestone, an online competition was run asking people to name their favourite Selling Houses Australia episode.
More than 1,800 entrants vied for 25 double passes to attend the Petersham auction on Saturday 25 February (the major prize included flights and one night’s accommodation at Sheraton on the Park).
The winners joined prospective bidders, the SHA team, people who have called the house ‘home’, those who have been helped by the Salvos’ homelessness programs and other residents of the inner-west street.
The results exceeded all expectations, with the auction garnering $2,270,000, which will go towards funding the Salvos’ social work, particularly in the area of homelessness, ensuring that the welcome mat will always be out for those who walk through the Army’s doors.
*The episode aired on 1 March.