Most of those terraces are low rent, usually multi-tenant student accomodation. You find a couch by the side of the road ready to be taken to the tip.. drag it to your place with the help of your mates.. and voila, an excellent place to drink tea / beer with a friend and watch life pass you by..
You don't usually find the porch-couch in front of the nicer pricier terraces in East Sydney / expensive parts of Glebe.. I guess some turn their nose up at it.. but that's speaking more of the gentrification of the traditionally bohemian inner west, and that's a different story altogether.
I shot many similar photographs when I was in Cyprus over Christmas. They tend to go for wood and plastic more than fabric, but is was the same in every porch, village after village. It was like a constant stream of William Eggleston viewpoints.
Cause it's warm, doesn't rain very often, they're more comfortable and most importantly it's cheaper to drag home the couch your neighbour puts out on hard reduse day then to buy actual outdoor furniture.
It looks like you're in Darlinghusrt…. these terraces are usually teeny tiny, dark and with little or no backyard to speak of. A lounge on the patio is great for hot nights, cigarette breaks and watching the passing parade.
Great photos. I saw the same set-up happening when I was in Sydney a few years ago. I love it; bring the inside outside without sacrificing comfort! Plus, being Sydney, it is done in an ultra-stylish manner, naturally.
I can just imagine a bunch of trendy hipsters with their de-caf and bi-annual fashion magazines lounging on the leopard print number!
I think it's just an aussie and sharehouse thing… Happens whereever there's student sharehouses, all over Australia. …. exactly what Zac said. It's much cheaper than buying outdoor furniture, the fuel used for transportation on it is hardly anything because you need to drag it and it's comfortable. An because it would hardly rain into the terrace front veranda, hardly any mould. comfy too…
Oh dear. The memories! When I lived in Melbourne we had at the highest count 16 sofas in our shared house and its garden. I think we sourced most of ours from either hard rubbish days or the local op shop (thank you Brotherhood of St Lawrence!). Good times, good times…
Ha ha! It's so true. My brother lives in Melbourne and everyone there just seems to rock the old furniture from inside on their porch instead. The Aussies seem to like it, I think it looks a little like they're waiting for the junk collector to come…
Haha – this must be Surry Hills – its for sleeping on when you stumble home late from a night out and have forgotten your house keys (or are not in a state to fit the key in the lock), not uncommon! lol
to sit, smoke, drink tea or wine or beer, enjoy the warm weather and watch passers-by. i'd say 90% of those couches are picked up from hard rubbish. terrace houses are tiny and dark, and if it's warm enough, why not just have your living room outside?
It's a great way to save perfectly good furniture from going to the tip. Personally all my furniture in our sharehouse is rescued from curbsides. I used to think it was just a student thing but now I'm working and I still do it. Who wants to spend money on cheaply made (but expensively priced!) new furniture when the old stuff is just as good and looks COOL? Not I.
I love the traditional Australian front verandah couch. They are not unique to Sydney – I've seen them in every major Australian city that I have visited. They are great for relaxing and watching the world go by.
It's an outside couch! Outside couches are a simply glorious phenomenon. They bring the comfort of the inside of your home outdoors. Usually rescued from the kerbside rubbish collections. I sometimes wonder what my future outside couches will be like.
probably couch was found on council rubbish collection day… not a stylish find but a useful one.
this is not a small terrace, it is at least a 4 metre wide front, which by Newtown standards is enormous… would have at least 3-5 bedrooms…it may be Surry Hills or Paddo. Rents are ever increasing in the inner city here and out of necessity you have to collect furniture this way.
tenants are likely smokers. we don't like cigarettes much in Oz.
It's widely known as recycling – reusing what we have and reducing our global footprint. Yes, they're probably relics of previous tenants and it's mostly likely of a share house. What dumbfounds me are your regular naive comments in your blog and book. It's a contradiction for a well-travelled person. Is it suppose to humour or simply to condescend?
The cheetah print on the bottom works, but the other couch looks like a class-less, blob-like lump next to the door that is begging to be put out of its misery. You would think that if someone would set a fabric-covered piece of furniture on the front porch, they would at least have the decency to throw a tarp on it when not in use. Coninuing visits by strays can set (FAST!) the whole business in motion for the retiring a piece of outdoored-indoor furniture
Some of my best and fondest memories are of sitting on a couch out the front of a terrace in Surry Hills with the gang, drinking and watching the people. Grimey and awesome. Thank you for posting these! It's so Sydney!
Hilarious! I never realised how weird this looked to outsiders.
As others have said, the couch is a sure sign it's a share house full of young people, probably university students.
What happens is this… someone moves out (generally after forgetting to pay the last phone bill) and leaves a crusty old couch they don't want anymore. No-one else can be bothered to take it away so it migrates to the front. Alternately, someone drags it out onto the street and someone else down the road drags it back over to their house. (Free couch, woo hoo!)
It's cold and rainy this week but in Summer you often see young people smoking/drinking/talking on the couches. Space is at a premium so the front of the house becomes a second living room. It's very useful when the actual living room is full of annoying friends of your even more annoying housemate.
Sigh, I had some good times hanging out on lumpy couches like these in my student days.
Looks like Newtown to me, I've seen house couches dragged out of upstairs windows onto shop awnings on King Street too – makes a great place for a bird's eye view, if not such a great idea for those with vertigo ;)
while it doesn't happen often in toronto, there are more than a few porch couches to be seen. my old room mates and i had one and it was THE party spot on warm summer nights. we may have been doing it for the sake of white trash inspired irony though. by "may" i of course mean "were".
Lived in Sydney – Mosman actually ? in a house with a bunch of friends and we had a couch on our porch too! Drove all of our fancy neighbors and the local neighborhood council crazy!! We were having a great time though…
I think the concept is cool but it should be done with style. Aside from that, indoor couches easily absorb dust and moisture which would totally ruin the furniture. I suggest having a proper patiofurniture would be best. If it's a matter of being comfortable, recliners or deep seaters is what I would advise rather than exposing the couch outside.
Ah, the porch couch! This is a very common sight in Portland, OR. I'm born and raised here so I didn't realize how odd it looks until visitors started questioning it. And it Portland it's not even a frat/student thing, either – it's very wide spread. It's something of a "we don't care if this looks presentable, we want to be comfortable and drink beer (and not throw away something perfectly good because we bought something new/got rid of pets/quit smoking)". Thanks for sharing some of Sydney daily life for those of us stuck at home. -Allison http://bramblenotebook.wordpress.com
Well, I don't live in Sydney, but my reaction is: why not? It looks like a (hopeful) return to front porch living, visiting with neighbors, etc. Have a beverage, sit outside and say Het to people passing by.
Another person here from Portland, OR confirming that there are many porch couches to be found here! And they are spectacular. My current house does not have enough room outside for a couch, and oh how I miss the morning cup of coffee out on the couch, listening to the rain hit the pavement.
They're always crappy old couches that no one in the house can be bothered throwing away – why would you when you can just stick it outside for you and your mates to kick back on and enjoy a beer together at the end of a long day/night?
Indeed, as many readers are asking, why not? It is amusing to read the wide-eyed accounts of the well-heeled, as they scour the globe and think they're uncovering something radically different in another society. What the Sartorialist sees as something particular to a national culture is very much particular to a socio-economic class.
It's odd to see The Sartorialist's slow transformation toward more broad subject matters. Yet, The Sartorialist's efforts reek of exclusivity, the same sort on display in well-tanned, sculpted bodies at pool side in Rio. Bravo.
I am reminded of his photographs of India's poor, caught from inside cabs, and from his effort to reduce the photograph of a Pakistani lawyer to a mere fashion critique, and to ignore the lawyers social context, a moment of demonstration over the dismissal of a supreme court judge. This is nothing new.
But we keep coming back for the eye candy he gives us. And, every so often, we are reminded of what eyes gaze and frame the photos of these high-couture-blogs.
This is not a respectable abode. A bunch of 20-year-old party animals with no money and no jobs live there (otherwise known as students). I think I lived there once. That is someone's mum and dad's old couch that no-one wants anymore. Enebriated friends who have drunk through all their cab money always know they can stagger to your house for emergency accommodation. They will be snoring on the couch when you wake up in the morning, or, more likely, at midday, to share stories about the previous night's excesses and make plans for tonight's.
Yep, what all the other Sydneysiders have said! Plus people generally don't smoke inside in Oz (especially if you're sharing with nonsmokers) so comfy outdoor furniture protected by the rain is a must! Also people-watching is a glorious tradition! My terrace is so old it doesn't have a verandah (1800s) but I sit on my front step with tea/glass of wine and watch the world go by all the time. Love it!
This takes me right back to college years in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Everyone who was anyone had a sofa on the porch. How could you not? Where else would you sit whilst dinner was cooked on the porch grill? And what else would sit alongside the porch keg? Porch furniture forever.
It's so clear that your not from Australia if u ask a question like that?!! Ha ha…. It's just how we roll.. Comfort, style environmentally friendly and yet another way to enjoy our fabulous weather! … Jealous rest of the world??? ;-)
From the comments, it's clear that many of you have not spent much time in Southern California (and I'm not thinking Newport or Malibu). I can't even begin to count how many times I saw this sight during the time I spent there. It seemed to work because of the dry climate. My mind would always run away with thoughts of bug colonies or small animals taking up homes within the furniture though…
i love this. i'm a sydney sider and i live in the burbs rather than inner city. there are plenty of those couches around here and we had one for a time, i still miss it. we got ours off the curb, just an opportunistic acquisition. it lasted about a year before the fabric started to degrade in the sun. it's just way more comfy than outdoor furniture and didnt cost anything. as for the embarassed sydney people, well you shouldnt live in sydney
When you live with 3-4 other people, who usually move into a house with all of their couches/furniture/etc, you need to put them somewhere – and a porch? Why not? You can have your morning coffee (and smoke if you do) in comfort, out in the fresh morning air. Also – outside couches + parties = good times.
That is pretty much Australia. Its all over Melbourne too, and not just front porches but backyards…why sit on plastic furniture when you can sit on a lounge, usually one you've picked up for free on hard rubbish collection day.
I agree – the couch on the verandah (not patio) is an Aussie institution! However, are you being humourous or condescending Scott? If you ask me, this is a great way to enjoy Australia's great weather, develop a better sense of community, as well as recycling old furniture!
The couch out the front = non-conformist. Which, plenty of creative, resourceful people do with their front verandah. Plus, whom really would want to steal a lumpy, often tea/ food stained couch covered sometimes with dog hairs from your front porch as opposed to a refined, purpose built outdoor setting?
Yep, it is definitely a student thing. You find this setting heaps around Carlton, Fitzroy, Burnswick, North Melbs.
It's just what we do! Why sit inside when you can enjoy the beautiful weather outside? Happens all over australia. I'm in Perth and houses are more spaced out but still everyone does this. Frankly I don't understand the appeal of uncomfortable wooden or plastic furniture.
It might be a student house aesthetic, but most students are priced out of the market around Surry Hills. Those terraces, even with unrenovated kitchens and bathrooms are very expensive to rent. It's true though that australians spend a lot of time on their verandahs.
Yeah, I don't think it's a Sydney thing, I think it's a student thing. Where I went to school, Madison, WI, plenty of student houses would have the same things, couches picked up from second-hand stores or the curb and given a nice home on porches.
life on the street! you see that kind of interaction in europe, asia and south america… this is the australian appropriation of british architecture for a cosmopolitan climate!.. but it's pretty much a student house thing- and aquired from the side of the road during 'hard garbage' pickups… if only everyone would use them more!?
i'm sure it's already been said (i can't read 106 comments) but i've seen a similiar sight around a lot of australia. i believe it's a part of our beauty. we're that relaxed we need a couch on our porch. x
Oh, you just made this Nashville-based Aussie homesick!! :) I've hardly thought about it before, but it really is a staple item for the porch / balcony / beach + a good friend & cool drink… Perfection!
Is it my son's house in New Town??? I have sat on a similar couch on his front porch with a mean 'short black'.It is great, relaxing and you can say just hello or chat to people that come past. I live in Tassie, the same thing happens here, but the couches DO get wet, because in Tassie is still rains!
This is not just an inner city thing….this is seen so much more in the suburbs! I live outside of Sydney and or us, it's a place to sit as the sun sets, as it's always so warm in the evening, and have a beer or cup of tea, while you talk to your neighbours or watch everyone go by. It's not about space in a house, because we still have backyards and room out in the suburbs, but it's such a relaxing place and you can sit and watch the kids play in the yard, enjoy the fresh air and the neighbourhood. Our couches aren't always that trendy aswell!
I'm from Australia and i didn't know it was such a wierd thing to everyone else! It seems pretty normal to me. i mean why NOT a couch outside!? like all of the above have said…chill nights, party nights, drunken sleeps, smoke breaks etc etc seems logical hahah
It's usually found in places with renting university students. A great place to sit outsite if you have lots of friends over for some drinks. Usually the couches are found on the side of the road for hard rubbish collection. You can see this in Melbourne too. :)
in Newzealand, especially dunedin, students do it everywhere, its near impossible to be here and not see it.often their burned at the end of study year on the streets, if their lucky enough to not get slapped with a fine.
I'm pretty sure it's in Surry Hills down past the hoey. My mates home is just down the road. It's just what the hipsters do: have your friends round, chill on the couch with a beer or three. This is supposed to be one of the trendy suburbs so there are a lot of students and artistic people in this area.
Oh, hi there. I'm an Australian uni student/40 year old hipster. Together with 15 of my friends, I rent a small terrace built for 2. See that couch on the front porch? It defines me. We placed it there because that's the best place you need to be to annoy the neighbors as they're trying to sleep.
Yeah… how dare they complain at 3:30 AM cause they can't sleep. Who cares if they need to work in the morning to pay taxes and put food on our table. Who cares if we're trashing this joint whilst they work 4 jobs to pay the mortgage on their overpriced shoebox. Yeah, who cares about civility, cordiality and common sense. Not us. We like to put a decomposing couch on our front porch cause that will make us Australians, somehow.
How ridiculous. How vulgar. Next time I see one I will douse it with petrol and set it alight. Be warned. I'm in Paddington, often.
Just another reminder of why I should move back to Italy.
I think it might owe something to the Mediterranean migrants. near my Mum's house in Surry Hills, Sydney the Greek Australian nmeighbours always sit outside the front of their terrace. Tho they are usually on plastic chairs, not upholstered couches. Love this blog, have only learned how to make a mark myself. I read yours, Scott, and Garance's every day, tho I am in my late 50s!
Scott, I've spent 3 decades living in Sydney and sometimes, I swear, it's like being stuck in a parallel universe. Don't even try to understand it.
And what they're saying about whole street parties where everyone mingles with one another… it doesn't happen. The community to which they're alluding… it doesn't exist. The passing parade which they're mentioning… there is no parade of people.
The couch thing, like the couches themselves, is an issue of social decay.
What Zac said! Plus it's much more comfy than regular patio furniture. I once saw a red couch in a park in Surry Hills too (where they have the markets. It was sitting in front of a nice green hedge – I have a lovely photo of it!).
I've noticed many people saying that it something seen in only low income areas, student accommodation, one person even went so far to say that it is a sign of social decay!
I'm from Perth and I will concede that you would more often see this in those areas.
That said, I have seen many well looked after couches on huge verandah/balconies/porches in some of our highest socio-economic areas.
I am currently a student and am living in a flat that has no balcony or porch but you can rest assured when I am working and am able to buy my own house (or at least rent a bigger one), I will be buying a big beautiful couch or similar to wile away a lazy afternoon while watching the world go by.
Love a good couch on the porch, ours tend to be the left overs from music festivals such as meredith and falls in melbourne / victoria, we take them so that we can sit on the hill /campsite and enjoy the music/scene. If they make it thru the festival they live on the porch to be enjoyed until the next festival rolls around.
its very common in melbourne to. And i'm pretty sure comes from the sharehouse thing. Too many couches not enough space, so the spare either ends up on the balcony, in the backyard or the front porch. The purpose is for smoking ciggies and drinking beers on warm nights. its the best!
Old couches found in the local council cleanup (when people dump their old junk on the streets for other people to find) and probs couldn't be bothered to take it inside lol. But also its mixing the comfiness of inside with the relaxed atmosphere of outside.
I haven't read all of the comments, but I think maybe it has to do with climate. I live in South Africa, and didn't think it odd at all.
We do like to kind of extend our houses from the inside to the outside because of the warm weather as well. Even the very nice houses sometimes have couches (newer and sometimes specially bought for that reason) on their verandas, it is comforatble, and the best place to be for sundowners.
If I think about it, it's really an Australian icon – the couch outside. In Perth they are everywhere, as many have said, mainly in shared houses. Plus it's an awesome concept! Although they do get dirty really quickly..
If you ever visit the deep south, you will find plenty of couches on the porch. The Australians got it from us! I'm not kidding about the couch thing here in the south, but they've got us beat by a mile as far as the style of the couch. You wouldn't see any leopard print couches out front people's home down here, or anything so bright. They win!
How funny..i go past this terace often and always wish to myself that the couch on my veranda was leopard print. I cant think of a better use for a couch that has seen its day but is still too good the throw away. Mine occasional makes an apperance in the back yard in good weather. Cant beat it!
I've observed that almost everything you find a bit "bizarre" or "the look" in other countries (couches on the porch in Sydney, men wearing leggings under shorts in Tokyo, etc.) has all been normalized for years in Santa Cruz, CA. I guess no big-wig fashion people ever really bother to stop here. But, I suppose, we kind of like that…..the death of Bohemia is commercialization.
Nothing to so with space inside, or being a student. When the weather is as great as it is here (and I'm in Perth, Western Australia, which has even better weather!), why would you sit inside on your couch? It's much nicer outside! And it doesn't get mouldy due to the lack of rain.
We used to do the same thing 30 years ago at the frat in Berkeley. Families would gift us with often very nice couches, when Mom redecorated, and when the "Sun Room" at the back filled up, out to the porch they went. Once the winter rains came, it was off to the dump with them – it DOES rain in Northern California.
Haha, that's in no way a trend. Take a walk through a college town, and you'll see couches outside all the major frat houses. It's a comfy place for us students to sit and watch a rousing game of beer pong.
I'm from Brisbane, and we have one of these as well. Student/poor 20somethings house. The students next door were moving out and offered it to us. And yes it is totally about sitting outside with a book, watching the West End weirdos go by and smoking cigarettes. Also to those who said that the weather is so good that they don't get mouldy, have you looked UNDER the cushions lately? We've had enough rain in Brissy over the last year that ours is, admittedly, pretty damn grotty. It doesn't smell though so we keep sitting on it. We're looking to get a set for the backyard as well.
Yes – this is fabulous Student house share Australia. We find it very difficult to throw away a comfy couch. FYI you may also find a couch on the back of a ute (small open back truck) ready to go to an outdoor concert or other summer event! Beaut idea!
Since when are we (Aussies) calling a verandah a porch? Is this yet another example of American cultural imperialism? It's fascinating to hear new fashion in our vocabulary. Last time in Melbourne I was stunned to hear young people use "You guys" instead of "you". Wha…?? An especially alarming habit to observe in a waiter : I rather like the colours in the animal-print sofa pic. Thanks Scott, your work is beautiful.
Awesome direction to focus your camera, Scott. Not. It seems like such a waste to picture Australians as a bunch of yokels. Not to mention unimaginative. Like no-one's done that before. Can't you think outside the stereotype, and be respectful rather than condescending?
yeah def a student thing most of the time…i remember when i first moved into one of these small terraces the couch we had, didn't even fit through the front door so our only option was to leave it out on the porch. Quickly became our everyday hang out after work & lunch or study in the sun. Or just watching the different people walk past.
Couches are an astonishingly common sight on porches in Alabama, USA, despite the humidity. Often they are accompanied by a fridge and a washing machine, and guarded by an overgrown truck motor or some fake deer.
I have just moved back to Wellington, New Zealand after living in Perth, Australia for two years and one of the things I miss the most is our front porch couch! There is nothing better after a big night out to have a comfortable nap on the couch, in the sun. Bliss.
(And it never gets moldy in Perth because it only rains about four times a year!)
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In Abu Dhabi this is a common sight!! the coolish evenings and the passing parade of cars and people are wonderful. i particulalrly love the roccocco revival with tattered check covering down by the Al Mina docks.
Ann Arbor Michigan in the USA is home the The University of Michigan, you see this all over campus in the apartment/house rentals. This is pretty common in most college areas, despite where one is from. Nice to know that we are not so different.
Kind of reminds me of my porch. Instead of a sofa I have a futon with a wooden frame, raffia coffe table and a wooden bench. The beige sofa looks rather dumpy but the leopard print is fun. We all need somewhere comfortable to people watch!
oh man i love how the world marvels at australian creation….come to carlton, melbourne, grab a mug of tea, take off your shoes and watch the streets take place (imagination the shots youd get from the view of the couch)
These 2 houses are in Surry Hills one on Fitzroy Street. The house regularly drinks on it out the front with there dog. Heaps of houses in Surry Hills are the same lots of the locals all know each other or work in the bars cafes in the area. Just a typical Sydney summer of stooping and drinking beers really.
I'm fairly certain most of these sofas and houses would belong to young groups of students or 20-somethings house sharing. Another tennant moves in, with their own sofa and it goes onto the verandah. A place for "mates" (friends) to enjoy a beer together.
In Melbourne we had a house full of junkies down the street from our first house in Richmond. They sat on an abominable sofa each afternoon and got high and drunk. Not nice neighbours, but that's what you get with inner city living.
It's because we're students, and council clean-up furniture (once a month, people put their junk out and the council comes to pick it up) is so hard to pass up. So on the way back from a night out/the pub, you spot one, you think 'awesome! A couch!', you get your friends together and drag it home and realise you've got nowhere to put it.
Nearly everything in our house is from the street.
i lived in brisbane for 4 years while i was at university, this is exactly how we furnished our front & back verandahs. the couches were either found on the side of the road or they were hand-me-downs from friends or the previous tenants. when you're a uni student, $$$ comes before hygiene (unfortunately!)
i live in paddo, sydney. us terrace house dwellers are bandits for a couch on the front porch as smokers can keep their smoke outside and still be entertained by passers by. the upstairs balcony will protect said couch from rain and the smokey smell doesn't penetrate the house. everyone's happy!
Twice a year, the capital city councils have 'hard rubbish collection'. So we all put out our old couches, dead tellies/ hifis et al. Most of us also have a tightass streak so it is almost irresistable to pass a perfectly functional couch on the nature strip without swiping it. We always think we will be sitting on these couches with a frothy and watching the world go by, but with one of the highest working hours in the developed world, it usually becomes property of the house's cat.
It doesn't 'work' whom ever thinks this works is deluded. It's just other peoples trash that they have picked up. Renters. Nothing against that, but the life span of foam furniture outdoors is very limited. Wouldn't want to live next door to this eyesore and the stench after a few months of we weather. What's wrong with a nice bench?
I know where that first picture is, i'm pretty sure it's in Surry Hills! :) I go past a house that has a couch like that out the front every day on the bus. It makes me smile haha. What can i say, we Aussies are awesome like that.
it's the same in tel aviv, every balcony/porch has this or armchairs…it's warm most of the time and cumfy!! so you can sit outside chill have coffee etc…..and it's a biiid student thing, as everyone else has already said!! : )
This is so typical of a lot of rental properties in inner city sydney and melbourne.. an old couch sitting outside an otherwise beautiful old two storey victorian terrace.. not sure why local councils don't do something about it??
This made me smile, I never thought how it would look strange to outsiders.
We got our verandah couch free with a table and chairs. It has a bright yellow Nepalese throw in it and we out there drink tea, smoke rollies and talk about how we are going to change the world. Even in the winter. It is the inner west Sydney way.
In oz, they leave all their unwanted items out the front and more often than not, someone will drive past and want it! One man/womans junk is anothers treasure I suppose! Here in London though, that would be massively frowned upon! I think it's wrong – it just turns your street into a tip!