This cliffside Sydney home is the height of contemporary sophistication.
Late 2016 saw the realisation of a dream for a Sydney family, who finally moved into the northern beaches home they’d been planning for years. Handing them the key was Michael Kilkeary from Cadence & Co, who’d helmed the design team, in conjunction with landscape designers Julia Levitt and Fiona Ericsson from Sticks & Stones Landscape Design. Between them, they’d spent more than 18 months working on the four-level, six-bedroom home that fitted perfectly into the front-line beach location.
Though exciting for all involved, the project wasn’t without its hitches. “The previous owner, a developer, cleared the site and built a concrete bunker as the base, but objections from neighbours to the DA’s five levels had made it unviable,” says Michael. The present owners, who have a number of children, were happy to reduce the footprint to better fit the site.
Cadence & Co has worked on a number of the owners’ houses and Michael, the firm’s architectural designer partner and lead interior designer on this home, was able to take them from the design stage through to construction and project management while ensuring a superior level of finish, inside and out. “The external finishes – painted render, vertical zinc panelling and stone rockface cladding – provide a low-maintenance structure that can withstand harsh beachfront forces,” says Michael.
Design-wise, the house had to be sympatico with the site and offer privacy in each of the bedrooms and various living areas, as well as outside areas, in a location that beachgoers frequent all year. Another challenge was bringing light into the lower levels. Trimming a floor from the original plan meant Michael could increase the ceiling heights and window sizes to let more sunshine in and create better views. At the sides and rear of the home, where there wasn’t a direct ocean aspect, he allowed enough room for lush garden vistas.
Entry is on level two, above the basement garage and gym. The living and pool entertaining areas flow from here, as well as two bedrooms. Up on level three are the main living and dining areas, barbecue terrace and media room, and on top are two more bedrooms plus the parents’ suite. The owners wanted a modern, warm and liveable home with a bespoke feel. This has been achieved through contrasts of stone and wood on the floors, walls and ceilings, inspired by some of the textures outside.
Glass is an important feature and used lavishly to create sightlines up and down stairs and across rooms. There’s a frameless glass wall in the hall, glass in the lift at the back of the stairs, and even in the dining room’s pendant lights, where the volume is generous but doesn’t obstruct the artwork beyond.
Luxury abounds, from the simple (an elegant cedar bench seat in the second ensuite’s steam room) to the sublime (the Lagano granite in the foyer). “The entry walls feature it in a diagonal ribbed texture that gives the impression of a lovely corduroy fabric,” says Michael. As well as a fully appointed home, there’s an acoustically controlled media room, a swimming pool overlooking the beach and a cellar next to the dining room.
Landscaping was key to the success of this house and Sticks & Stones has done an amazing job. “We were brought in to soften the spaces and create an instant garden,” says Julia. “There were more than 3500 plants carefully specified and grown for this home. We sourced from as far afield as Queensland, as well as a 50-year-old Dracaena draco tree from a specialty grower.”
The sloping site called for a relaxed, meandering timber staircase that connects with each destination. “Every pocket of the spotted-gum decking, timber staircase or retaining wall is filled with different textures and hues of green,” says Julia. The top deck, which is secluded and protected, is her favourite: “It’s a nice escape from the heat and bustle of the day.”
In recent months, the custom-formed concrete fire pit on the pool terrace has been a real hit with the owners. As Michael says, “It allows the family to sit outside in winter, overlooking the beach yet warmed by a spectacular open fire.” > Cadence & Co, Terrey Hills, NSW (02) 9450 1950 or cadenceandco.com.au. Sticks & Stones Landscape Design,
Surry Hills, NSW; 0439 822 079 or sticksandstonesld.com.au.