Better Workplaces - The Hallway’s 1852 haunted bakery

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 21 August 2023
The Hallway's office.

Employee preferences for WFH means workplaces need to utilise office spaces as a tool to connect with staff. In Better Workplaces, AdNews looks at how agencies use office design to entice staff to come in and create a company culture worth staying for.

When independent creative agency The Hallway moved into this haunted 1852 old bakery on Harris Street they ensured the personality of the historic house was kept alive, with an eclectic boudoir-aesthetic. 

Externally the building is an old sandstone house with an alleyway that runs underneath the now second storey (pictured below) - this is where the ghost stories start.

Horses and carts used to bring in deliveries via the alleyway and one day a lady got caught under the cart when it was rushing in, so it's told her ghost haunts the property.

“I've spent quite a lot of time here and the only thing I've noticed is the stereo suddenly comes on out of nowhere,” Simon Lee, chief creative officer, told AdNews.

“But one of my old clients coincidentally worked in this building a long time ago and they had a bunch of software developers who refused to work here at night because they had all sorts of all sorts of weird unexplained things happen.”


Internal stairs and the current alleyway.


Second storey balcony, often used for agency events.

Prior to The Hallway’s renovations in 2017 “it was a scary building with awful black carpets, commercial strip lights and a dingy vibe,” Jules Hall, CEO, told AdNews

So the agency worked with interior designer Matt Woods who, despite generally doing bar and restaurant designs, also designed the agency’s previous office.

Internally, the aesthetic goal was to embrace the eccentric nature of the house.

“Particularly in its setting on Harris Street, which is something of a Madison Avenue of Sydney with all these big advertising agencies here and there,” Lee said.

“We really pride ourselves on being very much independent, so having this wonderful eccentric sandstone bakery in the middle of Sydney’s Madison Avenue makes that statement.”



Woods, inspired by his typical bar and restaurant designs, brought the cosiness and the warmth into The Hallway’s office, making it feel just as homely as seating in a pub. 

Soft furnishing, dim lighting and lush carpets helps achieve this comfy aesthetic.  


A major feature of the office is the ‘grandma-esque’ carpet which runs throughout. Although the wow-factor carpet definitely works in the overall product, Lee and Hall had a shock when they first saw the swatches.

“Oh my god, when I first saw the carpet I couldn't believe that they still made carpet like that, it’s like something from my grandmother's house, but in this space it works,” Lee said.


Lush furnishings in the reception and the lighter carpet used upstairs.

Another wow-factor is the reception, which according to The Hallway ‘never fails to get a reaction’.

“Whether it’s prospective team members or clients, everyone pretty much says - wow, love your reception - it's always a positive first reaction that is always commented on, ” Lee said.


Overview of reception.

Behind the reception and past the fully functional editing suite is the main staff desk area.

Prior to renovations it had horrendous blue carpet and felt like a ‘dungeon’, Hall described.

Now the space is bright and fully equipped with enough seating for every employee. However, there is no technical seating plan but generally “everyone ends up putting their stuff on a similar desk every day,” Hall said.

staff desks

Overview of staff desks.

“So the way that that space is used is that people tend to come in, they'll put their stuff downstairs and then rapidly just spread out to use all the collaboration spaces,” Lee said.

“Because the reality is that most staff work off laptops.”

To accommodate, around the office is a mixture of big collaboration spaces to small work spaces where people can lock themselves away to do quiet work.

Upstairs is free of desks and is dedicated to be a collaboration space, with comfy couches tucked into the nooks and crannies of the building and large board rooms for client meetings.

upstairs break out area

Upstairs large break out area.

The Hallway is increasingly doing a lot of podcasting or live webcast work and to accommodate the office has multiple rooms with good sound insulation to enable good sound recordings. 

“Most importantly our office provides the space to do stuff that our people definitely can’t do at home, which is hanging out with colleagues and generating ideas,” Lee said.

“We’ve started calling the office the clubhouse - a place to hang out with people,” Hall said.

 big boardroom

The large boardroom, which was built out by the agency when they renovated.


Red carpet used downstairs and small meeting room.

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