Small world

How one cou­ple down­sized with­out los­ing out on style

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - re­nata.gor­ Pic­tures John Fotiadis

Like most down­siz­ers, Judy and Michael McMa­hon did a se­ri­ous cull be­fore they moved, but hap­pily found they didn’t need to buy fur­ni­ture for their new space.

Michael’s pen­chant for mod­ern clas­sics looks right at home in their new three­bed­room Potts Point devel­op­ment, de­signed by SJB Ar­chi­tects.

“It used to be known as the Oak­ford apart­ments and was used as short-term accommodation. (When it was re­de­vel­oped) we bought it off the plan in 2013 and moved in last year,” Judy says.

“We had a four-bed­room, two-storey home and it was only two of us and the dog liv­ing there. I didn’t want a gar­den, pool and empty rooms any­more.”

The cou­ple, who have owned and run Syd­ney din­ing in­sti­tu­tion Catalina in Rose Bay for more than 20 years, say pick­ing their favourite things from their for­mer home was no easy task.

“We kept the things we wanted and the fur­ni­ture all worked,” Judy says.

“The only thing that doesn’t re­ally work is the couch in the study, it’s too big.

“Michael has al­ways had mod­ern tastes even though we were in an old house, so it suits the apart­ment.”

Not many spa­ces could take a seven-seater sofa with­out be­ing over­whelmed but the Lshape di­vides the open-plan space just so.

“We had the chairs in a dif­fer­ent space be­fore. We had three liv­ing rooms in the old house, and this is prob­a­bly too small a space, but we kept them,” Judy says.

“We also had the rug. It was in a din­ing room and shouldn’t be as long as it is for this space, but you get used to it once you live with it for a while. I think it would be best if we did cut it down so you can see more of the floor be­cause the her­ring­bone par­quetry is one of the most at­trac­tive fea­tures of the house.”

The floor pat­tern is con­tin­ued on the bal­cony with traver­tine tiles.

With views over the har­bour, the bal­cony is a big fea­ture of the apart­ment.

“We pur­posely left it free of green­ery as to not take up too much space,” Judy says, although the house is dot­ted with flow­er­ing or­chids. Bring­ing them back to life is one of Judy’s spe­cial skills.

The new apart­ment needed a few mod­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing ex­tra stor­age and win­dow cov­er­ings.

“We had to put shelv­ing in the liv­ing room for the books and box shelv­ing in the study. We also had to build stor­age in the garage and had to put all the blinds in,’’ Judy says.

“It’s north-fac­ing so there are block­out blinds in the mas­ter bed­room which over­looks the wa­ter.”

Judy says, while large ex­panses of glass let in nat­u­ral light, it doesn’t leave much wall space to work with.

“We’ve been col­lect­ing over-size art­works for so long. They just trans­form a space but this made us con­sider ev­ery pick that we had be­cause it’s too much effort to switch it up.”

Old friends

While the vibe is sleek and mod­ern, Judy couldn’t leave the buf­fet be­hind.

“I love it, it’s as old as old can be,” she says.

“We had lot of dark wood in the old house and we got rid of most of it but kept this and I think it works re­ally well be­cause you can dis­play stuff on top of it and un­der­neath.”

The in­te­ri­ors are mostly Michael’s do­ing, a mix of a mod­ern monochro­matic pal­ette with pops of green and red.

“I buy things I like but al­ways have the po­si­tion­ing in my mind,” Michael says.

“I like black and white as a base with splashes of bright colours, hence the paint­ings, pottery and or­na­men­tal ob­jects such as the jade ele­phants.

“The pottery is mainly ob­jects by Mit­suo Shoji — he’s a friend and won­der­ful artist. The paint­ings are by three friends — Tim Stor­rier, John Olsen and Kate Briscoe — with a cou­ple of Bruce Gould works and a few oth­ers.”

Feel­ing the squeeze

tastes run to­wards min­i­mal­ism. “I don’t like clut­ter,” he says. “We built (the restau­rant) Catalina 23 years ago with a min­i­mal­ist pal­ette of white and tim­ber and it has changed very lit­tle in that time, ex­cept for new Capellini Tate Mod­ern chairs and a won­der­ful paint­ing on one wall by Tim Stor­rier.”

Although they’ve been in the apart­ment a year, there are a few more things Judy would like to tweak.

“I hate the bed­room head­board, it’s very mas­cu­line so we’ll change it,’’ she says.

“But be­cause Michael’s pas­sion­ate about the things that he loves and I’m more pas­sion­ate about the things I hate, as long as I like it then I’m OK with it.

“The blank wall be­hind the din­ing ta­ble is an­other bone of con­tention.

“In an ideal world it would be all fam­ily pho­tos, but he loves those bloody birds.” Go­ing from 900sq m to 200sq m wasn’t with­out its chal­lenges, but rent­ing a store room helped and it was handy that Michael’s

The cov­ered bal­cony is the ideal spot for al­fresco din­ing.

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