It was Todd’s great mate Sonia Kruger who “dragged” the Dancing With The Stars judge and acclaimed stage performer to the north side. The pair were working on the morning radio shift at Mix 106.5, searching real estate sites while songs played, when Sonia suddenly “swung her computer around and said, ‘Toddy, look!’,” recalls the performer. “We finished the show and drove to the front verge and literally looked over the fence. Sonia just said: ‘You’ve found your house.’ I’d bought it in my mind before I even went inside.”
At the time, the performer was looking for extra space. With this sprawling heritage home, built in 1901 and taking up a massive 1900 square metres of land with a glorious garden, he certainly got it. “I’ve never even had a garden and look what I have now,” he marvels, as he points out different species of plants and trees that are more than a century old.
Step inside the delightfully warm home with its grand, old-world proportions and it’s obvious that when it comes to interior decorating, Todd’s an old hand. Each space sings with personal style and a great story or three. Over here is a chair bought at a charity auction he MC’d, elsewhere there’s a piece picked up outside a Chinese restaurant in inner-city Newtown, and over there are some fantastic old theatre signs the entertainer managed to nab from a theatre mechanist in exchange for a bottle of vodka and a six-pack.
The second-hand sideboard displays much-loved possessions, including a photo of Todd’s daughter Charlotte, six, who lives in Melbourne. “She’s beautiful,” says Todd with a smile. And does she take after her entertainer father and singer-actor mother Anne Wood? “She tinkers on the piano and has really good pitch. But she’s never sung ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ – it’s always good songs, which is hilarious.”
A dramatic artwork by Tim Maguire serves as a striking centrepiece in the living area, which is all about low-maintenance style. “This isn’t precious, this is lived in,” says Todd. “I had lovely rugs here but the dogs came and wee’d on them straight away, so now I have carpet offcuts,” he says with a smile. Here Todd can often be found on a Sunday morning with the papers, or even belting out a show tune. Four times a year, Todd opens up his home – which according to neighbourhood lore was once owned by a theatrical agent – to music lovers for an afternoon of high tea and singing, as part of his Todd McKenney’s Centre Stage Tours.
With a private lap pool spanning the width of the house and a sunny side garden, Todd’s outdoor oasis is an endless source of inspiration – and hedging fun.
“Jason Hodges from Better Homes and Gardens taught me how to hedge, and his brother Keith is now my gardener,” Todd says. The perfectly manicured space is also full of surprises.
“I lived here for two years not knowing what the garden did as I was always on tour,” he explains. “I came home from the Gold Coast, turned the corner and my garden was in full bloom. I rang up Mum and said, ‘You should see what the garden does!’”