12 July 2021

Mid-century love

Home.byholly are in the business of connecting humans with homes, and we love it.  We love all homes, no matter the build, the vintage, the new or the old, we love finding ways to showcase each property’s story, creating narratives that are unique and empathetic.

Not surprising, each of us at hbh has a personal passion for mid-century homes in particular. These interests have endured for all our lives, and continue to be a personal topic of conversation around the table at the coffee shop. If you’ve watched any of our at home videos, you would have spotted that each of us covet and collect unique pieces of furniture, artwork, lighting and collectables. Actually, you have probably never met a group of people more collectively excited about a room full of 70’s wallpaper, or an original cast-iron balustrade.

The genuine excitement is obviously when we arrive to appraise a home and see its butterfly roof, an atrium, exposed beams, yellow kitchen benchtops, bold decorative bathroom tile, etched glass cavity sliders, the list goes on.

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I have a lot of buyers following me on social, and the most frequently asked question I receive is how to buy at auction.

I can understand why; auctions are an emotional event! Even though I sell the majority of my properties at auction, when I was looking to buy my first home and had to bid at an auction, I was a nervous wreck! I know that emotional buyers tend to push their budget, and yet there I was with that same surge of adrenaline, bidding from my heart, not my brain! In case you were wondering, I was not the winning bidder, and the post-auction depression kicked in hard.

However, there are a lot of reasons why I prefer to buy at auction.

Most real estate in Canberra is sold via auction. If you choose to avoid auction properties, you could be missing out on some of the best homes in the market.

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2021 has, so far, simply been one of the strongest years we’ve seen in real estate in Canberra for a very long time. We could speak to the days on market, the strength in sale prices or the sheer number of buyers that are in the market, but as you would expect from home.byholly there’s so much more to it than that!

Without peeling back the layers too much, and deep-diving into the experiences that the past twelve months have delivered, we can all understand and find a quiet moment to reflect on the place we want to be. Right here, right now, in our beautiful city, Canberra.

Last year we started a movement, a movement to support local, reduce our impact on the environment and celebrate the city we all call home. We are proud to say that our efforts are bearing fruit.

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Home.byHolly sales agents Ash Costello and Sally Strang first met 20 years ago and formed a firm friendship. They have now teamed up to create a specialised real estate service for the Black Mountain precinct.

Both women were born and bred in Canberra, and they are very serious about real estate sales and service. Their partnership within the Home.byHolly brand brings their considerable energy and passion for the job into a dynamic market where attention to detail can make a real difference on the final sale price.

“Teaming up with Ash was a natural progression,” says Sally. “She is smart, brave and an all-round overachiever.

“Ash is incredible on video and social networks such as Instagram, which helps us connect with our buyers on a more personal level. Together we offer a higher level of service to our clients. We bring great energy, are super competitive, and have so much fun along the way.”

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This delicious recipe was provided by Cris’ mum Orietta from Weetangera – A traditional Italian recipe. Orietta suggests making the stock from scratch for a tastier option. Cris – hbh collective.

Serves 4


  • 1 radicchio finely sliced
  • 1 onion – chopped
  • handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 400 gms Arborio risotto rice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 or 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Olive oil
  • Grated parmesan


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan and brown onion
  2. Add half radicchio and mushrooms and simmer for a few minutes
  3. Add rice and stir for a few minutes until translucent
  4. Pour in the wine and cook until it’s absorbed by the rice
  5. Add stock a little at a time, adding more as stock is absorbed.  Keep adding until rice is nearly cooked.
  6. Add the rest of the radicchio and stir until rice is cooked.
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If you have chooks this is a great way to use eggs. It looks tricky, but it always works out a treat! It’s the perfect summer dessert. I always make a quiche with the leftover yolks. Holly – hbh collective


  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300ml thickened cream, whipped
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fruit of choice


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Place the whites in a large bowl and beat with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add small amounts of the sugar (around 1tbsp) at a time, beating well after each addition. When all the sugar has been added, beat in until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  5. Add cornflour, lemon juice and vanilla, beating until well combined.
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This recipe was provided by Sam from Barrio, which his kids love just as much as Barrio customers! A good recipe if you have chickens laying eggs in the backyard and everything else is probably already in the pantry. It’s a favourite at the Sam’s Braddon café. Ash – hbh collective


  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup almond meal (I suggest coarsely blitzing up whole almonds to get more texture)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • Coupla tablespoons of spices (cinnamon, ground cardamom, ginger etc.)


  1. Mash the banana, add the olive oil, honey, eggs, spices and mix.
  2. Fold through flour, meal and baking powder.
  3. Pour into a baking paper-lined loaf tin. Smallish loaf tin is best. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

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This simple lemon cake recipe from Sally is a go-to crowd-pleaser, perfect for family picnics or summer barbecues. For a seasonal twist that packs quite a punch, try mixing in a punnet of fresh blueberries or raspberries before baking. Sally – hbh collective


  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g self-rising flour
  • A pinch of baking powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup milk, or as needed
  • ¼ cup icing sugar


  1. Grease and line a cake tin or loaf pan. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and lemon zest.
  3. In another bowl beat together the butter and caster sugar, then mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with portions of the milk until combined.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
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2020, the year of conquering adversity, climbing mountains, and taking in a clear view of the new world around us.

The best views come after the hardest climbs. 2020 has been a year of change, redefining the way we look at the world and mostly teaching us to find joy in what is at our doorstep. Canberra is a magnificent place to call home, we love our wide open spaces, we love our mountains. With that in mind, we’ve decided to define your HBH Agents’ specialist areas by the wonderful mountains that stand watch over us all.

Challenging is an understatement, but 2020 has provided an unparalleled opportunity to take a fresh look at our lives, the way we define ourselves and the way we approach the future. Home.byholly has graduated from a boutique, ‘quirky’ choice of agent to a Canberra powerhouse this year.

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“You can’t throw that out, it’s a collector’s item … ”

There is a stage in life that a whole generation of Canberrans is in the thick of, and that is caring for their elderly parents, and their homes full of treasures.

I use the term treasures to encompass lots of different things, some items being of actual value (if Nan’s got some flying ducks those things can be worth a fortune), then some things are not treasures as modern society would see them, like the mug that Pop always had his morning coffee in.

Treasured flying ducks

The treasure, iconic and valuable flying ducks.

Why, oh why, did Nan keep all this stuff for so damn long, when really 80 per cent of it is actually junk? The answer is pretty simple really.

Australians who are now in their 80s and 90s lived through the wake of the Great Depression.

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