House Proud

Music, movies and cocktails in Islington

I love Islington, anything can happen! The people, the shops, the cafes – it’s endlessly interesting.

When Craig McGaffin stumbled across this warehouse ripe for conversion in a quiet back street of Islington, he knew he had a chance to make his long-held dream come true.

“I’d always wanted to do a warehouse conversion and with three teenage boys, it was time to move closer to town.”

Working closely with his architect, Stu Campbell from CKDIS and Joel Skelton from Skelcon, Craig’s vision started to become a reality. Being mindful to retain the building’s history and charm, many of its original features have not only been kept but celebrated, resulting in a wonderful fusion of brick, wood, glass and steel.

As soon as you enter through the unassuming, but wonderfully oversized, original red front door, this place oozes cool. Cult movie posters adorn the walls, along with carefully selected Andy Warhol prints and Banksy stencils on the exposed brick walls. At the end of a long hallway, with mindfully exposed timber beams, is an eye catching red chair which sits alongside a custom built stainless steel cabinet, housing his prized record collection and an ethanol fireplace.

What was originally on this site?

“There are four warehouses in a row on Power Street and another one on Maitland Road and they were all part of a supermarket distribution centre. The previous owners had warehouse storage downstairs and office space upstairs.”

What attracted you to this site?

“The floor to ceiling height, the floorboards, the location and the zoning. Most warehouses are zoned commercially and don’t easily allow for residential conversions.”

Craig expands: “I love Islington, anything can happen! The people, the shops – the cafes - it’s endlessly interesting”.

What were some of the highlights of this amazing conversion?

“The boys and I were demolishing gyprock walls and we hit what we thought might be an old safe. It turned out to be an old steel fire door with the original weight and pulley system which even the previous owner didn’t know was there. It’s now an integral part of my favourite room of the house.”

What challenges did you face during the build?

“The voids in the living room and courtyard were such a key part of the design, but it meant having to build a steel frame to support the structure which was an unexpected surprise. It ended up looking great though. I’d never try to cover it up.”

Do you have a favourite room?

“That would have to be the living room. The massive windows bring in so much light. There’s nothing better than laying on the couch with the fire lit, listening to my favourite tunes.” At the time of our interview, Craig had ‘Middle Kids’ playing on his Gramovox Floating Record Vertical turntable, sourced from Chicago. Not surprisingly, this is his favourite piece in the house!

Another favourite spot of Craig’s is the upstairs Winter Garden, perfectly positioned to capture the northern sunlight and an afternoon summer breeze.

Another major highlight is the recently installed custom mural beneath the original roller door, which can be seen as you look out from the kitchen. "I worked with the incredibly talented Mitch Revs on the design concept and it's set in King Edward Park and features my 3 boys and my partner and her son and daughter, so it’s really personal. I absolutely love it!!"

Tell me about your Flash Palace sign

“A friend was working on a demolition job in Maitland where they were converting an antiques shop called ‘Flash Palace’ into units. He saw the sign and thought it was perfect for this warehouse. So for the price of a couple of cases of beer, it was mine!”.

Signage sourced from Andy at 'Able Wood’ during a demotion job in Maitland.
Signage sourced from Andy at 'Able Wood’ during a demotion job in Maitland.

What’s next?

"Andy’s going to build some benches for the courtyard out of some of the recycled hard wood and I have my old push bike from when I was a kid that we are going to hang up on the wall above them..”

The Warehouse’

Craig also incorporated a stand alone apartment into the overall project, listed on Airbnb as ‘The Warehouse’. Described as an ‘intelligently creative space’ by a recent guest, The Warehouse has its own balcony and internal courtyard and is a feat of clever architecture and uber funky design. “Hosting the Airbnb has been a lot of fun, I have met some interesting people and everyone has been really appreciative of the space”

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