Take tips from a family home that works on all levels,
The size and location of this Sydney project home were perfect; its cookie-cutter looks, less so. When the owners put their faith in an intrepid interior designer, everything came together beautifully.
Twenty kilometres north of the Sydney CBD is the 15,000ha Kur-ring-gai Chase National Park. It’s a favourite haunt of Upper North Shore locals Sophie and Scott Hay, so when they began hunting for a larger house in 2014, they didn’t look far. It took 12 months to find, but their new home had a significant drawcard: its huge garden backed onto the national park.
Built in the 1980s as part of a project-home development, the two-storey brick house had a rather ugly facade. The interior – and its potential – excited the couple, however. With five bedrooms, two living rooms and formal and informal dining rooms, it offered all the internal space they needed for themselves and their three children, Charles, now eight, Lucinda, six, and Henry, two. The pool and tennis court were the icing on the cake.
Shortly after moving in, in early 2015, Sophie and Scott set about making some home improvements. Sophie found interior designer Lisa Bu rd us on the internet and signed her up almost immediately.
Lisa’s style resonated with the look the Hays were after: a comfortable family home with layers for warmth and interest. “We love the Scandi look but thought this house would feel hollow in that style,” says Sophie. After further discussion, Lisa suggested a French-farmhouse scheme, with the kitchen at the heart of the home, would work beautifully for the family. The other rooms flow on from there, each with their own statement pieces. In line with Sophie and Scott’s desire that the home “shouldn’t feel new”, Lisa planned a mix of the off-the-shelf and the bespoke, plus a smattering of antiques to give the place soul.
Before the fun of the decorating could begin, there were larger issues to address. The formal living and dining rooms needed opening up, there was a new kitchen, main bathroom and ensuite to install and every room needed new flooring.
But then some nasty surprises stopped them in their tracks. “We quickly discovered there were some structural things that needed sorting,” says Lisa. “The floors had tiles laid on top of tiles and pipes were running all over the
‘Sophie and Scott were a bit shocked when I suggested pink walls and green curtains for the living room…’ Lisa Burdus, interior designer
place. Not quite what Sophie and Scott expected from their new purchase.”
Once the structural issues were resolved, Lisa surprised the Hays again – this time in a good way – with colour choices that nudged them out of their comfort zone. “Sophie and Scott were a bit shocked when I suggested pink walls and green curtains for the living room but they went with it and the result is fantastic,” she says.
Now the interior is complete, there are four charming bedrooms upstairs, a luxurious parents’ retreat on the ground floor and plenty of living space for the family to spread out. And it suits the Hays to a T.
“The house opens to the outside through lots of french doors so the children can run freely inside and out,” says Sophie. “It also has an enormous amount of privacy, which was important. The one drawback, if you could call it that, is that we’re still learning how to entertain here. But we’re slowly starting to use the larger rooms more often.”
While each room is special in a different way, Sophie says her favourite is probably the main bathroom on the first floor. “The whole house is amazing – we still walk in with a sense of wonder,” she says. “Lisa really understood our family and the way we live. We wanted our home to come alive and it has.”
Lisa Burdus, Willoughby and Southern Highlands, NSW; 0409 489 225 or www.lisaburdus.com.au.