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Mid-century designer oasis

By Catherine Rayward

THIS oasis called ‘Tourmaline’ is steeped in Australian history.

The 1959-build at 12 Kimo St Roseville was immaculately designed by renowned Sydney architect John James, designer of the significant modernist Reader’s Digest building in Surry Hills.

It was his own family residence and it originally housed his architectural practice too during the early 1960s.

The four bedroom home Tourmaline, surrounded by green bushland on 3827 sqm of land, is being marketed by Ray White Double Bay agent Thomas Popple and Ray White Roseville agent Lisa Davies with a guide of $5m to $5.5m.

“It was my first house and project in Australia. Considered one of the first Sydney School buildings, the house is open and I loved the way the ceiling and floor flowed throughout. I also cherished the hidden views – there are many to discover,” said architect John James recently.

Owners Jennifer Cummins, and her husband Michael Lochtenberg, undertook a sympathetic renovation in 2010 to open up the kitchen.

Lochtenberg, a geologist by training who has a background in property development in the healthcare sector, said ‘Tourmaline’ was their own private sanctuary.

The pair named the house after one of their favourite rock, tourmaline, a colourful gemstone that radiates energy and life.

Lochtenberg said the house was particularly wonderful during COVID when the pair were both working from home, albeit with plenty of breakout spots and space for them both.

The house is perfectly private and enjoys different breezes and light depending on the time of day.

The couple are the third owners of the home and undertook a fabulous renovation on the kitchen to make it modern and functional.

Jennifer Cummins, is the principal of Heiress Films, a boutique, independent production company that specialises in factual and entertainment programs for primetime audiences. Often transformational in nature, the films tell stories with sensitivity, heart and humour.

Ms Cummins has swerved away from documentaries for the moment and her current project is a scripted comedy drama production called IN LIMBO which will air on the ABC TV in the months to come.

“So many ideas have flowed out of this house.  It’s definitely a creative hub, and in my office I have three completely different views of the garden. It’s a very special space to work from, the original office of architect John James himself,” Cummins said.

“The other thing I love about the house is that it’s perfect for entertaining – we have had the best parties and long lunches here.

“When people arrive they feel they are in a special place, and everyone who arrives always brings champagne!

“We’ve celebrated huge family Christmases, 21st birthday dance parties, mad men pool parties here but perhaps the most special experience of all is when it’s just us on a chilly winter’s night in the sunken lounge with the fire lit and our feet up.

“We also have no neighbours, it’s very private here.”

The new owner may want to build a meandering pathway down to the creek below or another garden space outside the master bedroom.

“There’s definitely potential to add some flair and another garden.”

As the pair’s two sons now live and work overseas, the couple are keen to downsize to an older art deco style apartment in Sydney.

The property is for sale via an expressions of interest campaign.

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