Fresh Air

The owner’s for­mer child­hood home has been rein­vented for her own fam­ily in an easy style that mar­ries Span­ish Mis­sion and Hol­ly­wood Re­gency with­out miss­ing a beat.

Belle - - Belle P Romotion Belle P Romotion - Pho­to­graphs AN­SON SMART Words CHRIS PEAR­SON Styling LUCY MCCABE

The home of cook­book au­thor Stephanie Con­ley, in Syd­ney’s east­ern sub­urbs, has turned a fresh page. This was once her child­hood home, but now, thanks to a smart ren­o­va­tion by ar­chi­tect Luigi Ros­selli and Stephanie’s deft dec­o­rat­ing, it has ef­fected its own gen­er­a­tional shift. When her fa­ther passed away about 11 years ago, Stephanie and her sis­ter were un­sure what to do with the Arts and Crafts-style house. It wasn’t un­til her first son was born that she con­sid­ered its po­ten­tial as a fam­ily home. But the five-bed­room house was ham­strung by its past, squan­der­ing its prime po­si­tion over Syd­ney Har­bour. Large win­dows, added in a 70s ren­o­va­tion, em­braced the view but didn’t con­nect with the garden, and the main en­try was via nar­row steps down the side, “like the trades­man’s en­trance, not dig­ni­fied”, says Luigi.

“I wanted to keep the house in­tact, as it was the place I grew up in, yet make it new and con­tem­po­rary, more suited to fam­ily liv­ing,” says Stephanie, who hired Luigi on a friend’s rec­om­men­da­tion. “He came up with amaz­ing plans to give the house a new face with­out de­stroy­ing it.”

Keep­ing the Fed­er­a­tion fa­cade, Luigi de­mol­ished clumsy add-ons on the har­bour side, re­duc­ing the home to its orig­i­nal shell. “It was an ex­er­cise in ad­di­tion and sub­trac­tion,” he says. Along that fa­cade, he in­stalled steel balustrades and banks of steel-framed win­dows, a Luigi hall­mark evok­ing his roots in in­dus­trial Mi­lan. Many front onto a vast new ter­race which he added along that side of the house.

“There was no need to im­i­tate the style at the front,” says Luigi. “The con­trast be­tween the old and new is en­rich­ing, but the ma­te­ri­als and colours are the same, cre­at­ing a vis­ual link.”

No dras­tic changes were made to the orig­i­nal lay­out, but the most sig­nif­i­cant was the shift­ing of the kitchen from the back to the har­bour side, where it abuts the new ter­race. The liv­ing ar­eas on the lower floor have been con­verted into an open plan, with Luigi re­tain­ing the orig­i­nal in­ter­nal arches.

To cre­ate a sense of ar­rival, he moved the en­try to street level, so vis­i­tors en­ter through the top floor, which boasts four be­d­rooms, and de­scend a sculp­tural stair­case to the open-plan main liv­ing area be­low. A pre­vi­ously un­used base­ment level now boasts a study and gym while, at the top, Luigi has utilised the roof space to cre­ate a fourth level, a play area for Stephanie’s two chil­dren, Hugo and Fred­er­ick. Con­nect­ing the four is a soar­ing, sculp­tural stair­case, an­other Luigi trade­mark. “Stairs are the play­ground of ar­chi­tects. De­sign­ers have chairs, while ar­chi­tects put their tal­ents into stairs to cre­ate im­pact,” he says with a smile.

Luigi’s in­spir­ing take forms the back­bone of the new house, join­ing all four lev­els prac­ti­cally and visu­ally. On the bed­room level, he has in­stalled Moor­ish clay pipe screens, painted white, to of­fer privacy from, as well as a con­nec­tion to, the light-soaked void.

For the in­te­ri­ors, Stephanie put Tin­sel­town glam­our on her menu. She took some of her in­spi­ra­tion from the Ho­tel Bel Air in Los Angeles, a city she vis­its fre­quently, and where she did much of her fur­ni­ture shop­ping. “There’s a lot more on of­fer, tra­di­tional, con­tem­po­rary or mid­cen­tury; you can achieve any look you want,” she says. “Here I went for Hol­ly­wood Re­gency.” The for­mal liv­ing with its tai­lored, lay­ered fur­nish­ings and mid­cen­tury retro-clas­sic air, has a Bev­erly Hills meets Palm Springs feel, with bursts of gold and plen­ti­ful pat­tern. The start­ing point was the rug. “I love its strik­ing pat­tern and the colours. I like lots of dif­fer­ent fab­rics and colours,” she says.

In this home, which pays homage to its past while writ­ing its own story, an el­e­gant mar­ble-floored room abut­ting the fam­ily room is a trib­ute to Stephanie’s happy child­hood. “When I was grow­ing up, it was al­ways a pi­ano room. It just had to be a pi­ano room se­cond time around,” she says. “It’s my nod to the orig­i­nal house.” #

For more go to lui­ Stephanie Con­ley’s new book, With The Host­ess, $60. the­host­

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