A few smart changes to the layout of Nicole Lowings’ Sydney home transformed it into an incredible outdoor entertainer.
“TONY AND I DISCOVERED THIS leafy cul de sac on the edge of a national park 14 years ago when we were looking for a place closer to city transport and our children’s schools. The 1950s house on Sydney’s upper north shore was of solid brick construction with great retro-style high ceilings and plenty of mature trees. A recent renovation had added a new kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, front garden landscaping and a second storey, so there were plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for our family of six.
The house was in great condition when we moved in but after 13 years we were were ready to change parts of it to suit our lifestyle – and our growing children. Although the traditional kitchen was lovely, it was just too small – our tall grown-up kids kept hitting their heads on the overhead cupboards – and the oven and fridge were falling apart.
By knocking down a wall between the kitchen and the formal dining room we created an enormous space for an open-plan kitchen, which provides for practical entertaining because everyone wants to gather around the cook! The floor-to-ceiling cabinetry is so much better. And while I really wanted a huge capacity fridge for our large family, most were too deep for the cabinets. So instead we got two Fisher & Paykel fridges and a special joinery kit – they sit flush and look very slick (without the price tag). Along with two robust dishwashers and a double oven, our kitchen can now handle the volume of cleaning, cooking and food storage that a family with adult kids on their own schedules generates!
Our other major construction was the shaded outdoor area, where we can cater for a crowd at any time of year [see box page 57]. This leads to a large deck and pool area overlooking the bush. Being on a sloping block makes it feel like we are sitting in the tree canopy – but the location did mean we had strict bushfire regulations to consider for our materials and design. This included reducing the planned size of the alfresco roof area, adding gutter guards, using aluminium for the bifold doors and clearing overgrown bush scrub on the firetrail out the back.
Our decor has to be kid-friendly and bullet-proof as it’s a busy house, always full of people. I’m inspired by home magazines, blogs, TV shows, Instagram, hotels and resorts, and
I do all the decorating, taking into consideration our family’s art. Both Tony’s parents were professional artists in South Africa, so we have a collection of large sculptures and paintings, of which we are very proud. They add a personal and unique touch to our home so it doesn’t look too mainstream.
Like most families our decor has evolved over time, but we do gravitate towards natural textures and neutral tones to show off the greenery of the garden, with black and white accents to create luxe statements.”
OUTDOOR LIVING Room for a crowd With the bifold doors open, dining and relaxing flows easily from the kitchen to the alfresco area.