Dirt: Cribs down under

Enough isn't enough but it sure is beautiful.

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Hunter Lull on The Local Project.

YouTube, and the internet at large, are replete with house tours: celebrities showing their carefully staged homes, ‘super-agents’ manically shilling ungodly houses that no one in their right mind would buy. I’ve spent a not-insignificant amount of the past year on StreetEasy and YouTube touring places that I have no intention of renting. At the pinnacle of these house tours, which have increasingly become monotonous hate watches instead of a respite from Twitter, is The Local Project. This publication, and their endlessly watchable YouTube channel, highlights the best design in modern homes in Australia and New Zealand. 

I've been looking at houses on the internet almost as long as I've had access to it. As a preteen, I had the Sotheby's International Realty app on my iPod touch. The Local Project feels like a culmination of that. Their videos are incredibly well shot, more so than any of the most prominent purveyors of real estate content (Architectural Digest, Serhant). Anything from a modest one-bedroom apartment to the most picturesque waterfront abode looks amazing on this channel. Featured locales range from idyllic Sydney neighborhoods to cliff sides and coastlines in Tasmania, which I previously hadn’t even known to be a real place. One story glass-walled retreats, brutalist masterpieces, and old houses restored into cutting edge contemporaries are all featured, each with David Fincher level attention to detail and narration from the people involved in their creation. 

There’s something refreshing about this, compared to being shown houses by people whose sole interest is in selling them. In American real estate content, realtors, agents, whatever you call those people, tend to describe everywhere as if it’s the best they’ve ever seen, yet their descriptions of each home are typically interchangeable, as are the cookie-cutter estates that say nothing more than ‘I’ve recently become very rich.’ Many of the most fawned over projects are nothing more than one version or another of the same Calabasas mansions, copied and pasted over and over again.

Hearing from the owners, builders, and designers, whose passion for the project occasionally borders on religious, is so endearing compared to the sales-speak we’ve come to expect. The Local Project’s homes are different, almost never in some quiet exurb, but rather placed in the middle of normal, if upscale, neighborhoods all over Australian cities. They’re extravagant, but in an understated way, tasteful almost to the point of compensating for their own opulence. If anything, the incredible attention to detail does exactly that, serves to cover up the absurd amounts of money that such a project would cost, in a way that the AD videos fail to. Is the impeccable design merely an alibi for owning such an extravagant home?

I’d like to think that upon attaining such a structure, that’d be it for me. But when an Aussie in one of the Local Project videos said that she’d like for the house to be her family’s forever home, her husband–with whom she designed the place–cheekily said, ‘in a year I’ll be looking for the next one.’ When is enough enough? When is too much enough? The pursuit of the perfect house seems, paradoxically, far more tangible to both the viewers and the homeowners than the idea of ever living in such a house. — Hunter Lull

The Dirt: We live in the pursuit of perfection.