Our city is changing.
We see the evidence in the cranes that tower over the skyline, in the new apartment blocks that have risen in the place of old commercial buildings, in the shift from living to lifestyle.
The old is merging with the modern and creating something special.
The old fire station pie shop and bakery in Union Street, Cooks Hill, is a case in point.
Once serving tasty baked goods to loyal customers since the 1970s, the two-storey building was sold in June 2019, ready for a new chapter in its more than 100-year history.
Owners of The Woods and Blackwood accommodation in Pokolbin, Anne Marie Cameron and husband Ewan, bought the place with the view to have a base in Newcastle, while renting it when empty.
Upstairs is the accommodation, while downstairs will host a 20-seater restaurant called Union Dining, due to open in March.
"It was originally to be a place for ourselves, as well as an Airbnb offering," Anne Marie says.
"We really like being in this community and we thought it would be perfect for other people visiting Newcastle from the valley and beyond."
Anne Marie's approach with the accommodation aesthetic was to let the beauty of the materials shine as naturally as possible.
Peeling back the layers built up over 100 years, much of the original brickwork and timber floorboards have been revealed. They have been given a bit of TLC to restore them to their former glory.
"The walls were covered in plaster - we just removed it and left the brick exposed," she says.
"I think it adds a textural feel to the rooms, and connects the old with the new."
Anne Marie has long been a champion of local suppliers, tradespeople and products, and uses them whenever possible.
Once again, she turned to Marc Summers, from Summers Constructions, to help with the renovation, making small changes to the layout to enhance liveability and light.
"We opened up the main living room by removing a partition wall which had created a dark bedroom," she says.
"We also moved the kitchen into the main living space and turned the old kitchen area into a second bedroom/office area."
The result is a comfortable, yet sophisticated, space that feels more like a home than a weekender.
The main bedroom is at the rear of the space and is calm and quiet, with minimal decor. The second bedroom features a king single with trundle, as well as a desk overlooking the street, a perfect place to catch up on work, do a spot of writing or just watch the world go by. Out the back of the apartment is a neat private balcony, complete with barbecue and views of the suburb.
Along with modern inclusions such as air-conditioning, full kitchen with dishwasher, laundry and WiFi, Anne Marie has made small nods to the heritage of the building - ornate grills for the bedroom and bathroom from Embers in East Maitland; refreshing the fireplace; and keeping the solid timber floorboards. They have benefited from some restoration from Rick and Kim Mulholland Floor Polishing, based in Wollombi, who added a hardened wax.
"It is sticky for a few days and then it sets, making the floor so much more durable and disguising dust," Anne Marie says.
It also has given the floor a deep, dark tone to complement the rest of the apartment. The colour palette was inspired by the feature wall paint Anne Marie selected - Farrier by Murobond - a black with a touch of chocolate when touched by the light.
"That's where the design started - I chose the paint and everything grew from that. That started a theme."
While the feature wall and flooring are darker, there are splashes of light throughout to brighten the space. From the Muuto pendant lighting, to the soft furnishings, and the vibrant Marimekko print from Pappa Sven in the living room, it all blends with ease.
Despite the building being between two others, there is ample natural light courtesy of the bedroom and kitchen windows, access to the rear balcony and two skylights.
Anne Marie has paired the natural brick walls in the bathroom with large ceramic Earp Bros tiles that give off a "beautiful patina", plus vanity and tap-ware from Tracey Moore, at Reece Cessnock, to continue the laid back, yet chic design.
"I feel like it's an urban retreat," she says.