Patricia Gillard never imagined herself having an apartment lifestyle before she moved into her modern two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment last year.
With long, black rectangular windows, sweeping views, clean lines and efficient use of space, the 14-floor apartment block joined Newcastle West's skyline in December of 2017.
Gillard is originally from Sydney and has lived in several capital cities. Before Newcastle West she was in Merewether.
The short answer is, the garden brought her here.
"I wanted to downsize and have a place where I could live a bit more simply and write this book," she says.
Gillard is a researcher and is writing about a new research method she developed during her past 10 years as a consultant. When she went home hunting, she didn't have an apartment in mind at all. As she looked and discussed it with friends, her thoughts began to change.
"I was looking for a two-bedroom cottage. All the ones I saw were either totally renovated but too expensive and not my taste, or they were in pretty bad shape and I didn't think I could renovate them," she says.
"I was surprised by this place. This place had the garden and it had a different sort of design and aesthetic.
"It's a modest place in terms of its size, but it's these lovely long, black windows and taps and detailing."
The apartment reminded her a bit of both Japan and Montreal. She was delighted.
Gillard had fun combining a few Japanese prints and textiles creating a kind of "French-provincial-cum-Montreal sort of feeling".
"I thought I might have trouble because I had furniture from a heritage house, but, from my point of view, they seemed to get along well together," she says
"I don't know if anyone else would think so."
She loves her mustard lounge as an alternative to tall stools at the kitchen bench
"I don't like sitting on those. When my friends come in, the first thing they do is put their bags and coats on the lounge and then they sit down and start talking to me."
She says it's hard to describe her style, but it's perhaps both intimate and comfortable.
"If I look around, I like drawings and I like them a bit more than beautifully finished paintings. I like Australian native plants," she says.
Gillard has Chinese and Japanese art, a drawing of birds from Hunter Wetlands Centre and Aboriginal works. She was very selective and didn't bring many new things to the apartment. The pieces she did bring with her became more meaningful.
She decided to turn the main bedroom into the guest bedroom, office and small dining room. Like the lounge room, its many windows give unique views of the garden and Newcastle West.
A favourite spot is the spacious patio. The inner garden is Gillard's and the outer is owned by the body corporate.
In her garden she'll have low Australian natives, hopefully in a similar style to Dudley bluff.
"That's what I'd like. But whether or not that works, I don't know. The only things that have been successful are herbs and they're running away. So I might have to adapt," she says.
Her views are beautiful. She can see the tip of the Bank Corner building and she looks across to what is now Hillsong Church, which was once an art deco theatre.
The building is among a few other apartment blocks. When Gillard watches the sunset, the surrounding buildings reflect the pink sky.
She's surprised at how much she enjoys the location. She loves both Bank Corner and Estratto coffee shops and the people who work there. She's also made friends.
It might seem odd to prefer the tattoo parlours and bus stops of Hunter Street to the sea breeze of Merewether, but each street Gillard strolls down is fascinating.
"As my son says, I can walk to Sydney," she says referring to the nearby Newcastle Interchange.
For this time in her life, Gillard's better suited to apartment living than being in the suburbs.
"I seem to have lapped this up. I was living with a cat and a dog and butcher birds, but I've been adopted from time to time by two magpies. I figure if my native plants grow, I might be a bit luckier," she says.