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.

Australian House & Garden - - Contents - STORY Deb­o­rah Grant | STYLING Kate Nixon | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Ma­ree Homer

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.

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