With an open door pol­icy

En­joy the best of both worlds with stylish but fam­ily friendly spa­ces

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - Pic­tures Thomas Dal­hoff

Kate and Dax McBur­ney know their way around a build­ing site. Not only is Dax a builder, but they had built a pre­vi­ous home from scratch and have done a few ma­jor ren­o­va­tions in the past.

So when they bought acreage to build a house for their fam­ily of five at Duffys For­est in Sydney’s north, they al­ready had a good idea of how they wanted it to look.

Rather than en­gag­ing an ar­chi­tect, the cou­ple worked with a drafts­man to draw up plans for the two-storey, four-bed­room home with guest room, four bath­rooms, two pow­der rooms and a wrap­around ve­randa.

In ad­di­tion, the site would be home to a mini golf course and a gen­er­ous swim­ming pool with ca­bana.

With so much work to be done, they quickly re­alised they would need more help.

Love my way

Kate says she was at­tracted to the work of in­te­rior de­signer Karen Ak­ers be­cause “she never does the same thing twice”.

“We wanted an in­te­rior de­signer who would lis­ten to us and de­sign the house ac­cord­ing to our needs, not some­one who would come in and want to do it her way,” says Kate.

Be­cause Karen was con­sulted from the ear­li­est build­ing stages, she helped spec­ify ma­te­ri­als, as well as the colour scheme and, later, fur­nish­ings.

“My role be­gan be­fore the first brick was laid,” Karen says. “I chose all the ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures, the floor­boards, cor­nices, fit­tings and fix­tures. Half my projects I am in­volved in right from the start.”

The cou­ple wanted to cre­ate a home with a con­tem­po­rary coun­try feel, with a soft pas­tel pal­ette and dark floor­boards that could with­stand the rough and tum­ble of fam­ily life.

Al­though it is as­so­ci­ated with coastal liv­ing, Karen took in­spi­ra­tion from Hamp­tons style, which em­pha­sises painted tim­ber pan­elling, nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and a soft pal­ette.

Kate and Dax wanted the house to look like it be­longed in its semi-ru­ral set­ting so Karen was care­ful to spec­ify re­cy­cled brick for key parts of the house, in­clud­ing the en­trance, the ve­randa posts and the chim­ney in the main liv­ing room.

“I also changed the front to put in the gabling,” says Karen. “We added those fea­tures to make it feel like it’s a ru­ral prop­erty.

“That style would be out of char­ac­ter in, say, Vau­cluse but it suited this site.”

White magic

While at first glance the house looks all white, Karen says it’s a sub­tle pro­gres­sion of soft greens and blues. Get­ting the tones right is the se­cret to de­sign suc­cess.

“It de­pends on how much light comes into the rooms but if it is a bright white and there is a lot of nat­u­ral light, it will feel very vivid,” Karen says. “You need to take the edge off it and blues and greens work well with our en­vi­ron­ment and our light.”

While the pale pal­ette cre­ates a sense of lux­ury, Karen says ma­te­ri­als have been cho­sen to be hard-wear­ing, from the dark tim­ber floor­boards to the easy care Cae­sar­stone bench­tops in the kitchen.

The ex­cep­tion is the main bed­room suite, where Karen per­suaded Kate and Dax to in­dulge a lit­tle in the en­suite.

“It was their dream bath­room’” Karen says. “They look out over the bush and we added some cur­tains for a more so­phis­ti­cated look. It’s only used by the par­ents so you can af­ford some­thing more lux­u­ri­ous in that space.” Kate says this is very much a fam­ily home. “The house is bet­ter than what we had hoped for,” she says. “We didn’t want to leave the last house but now I would never look back.

“It works for us and the kids are out­side all the time now.”

Re­cy­cled brick gives the new house a sense of per­ma­nence while pick­ing up on the soft pink colour scheme in the liv­ing room.

Farmhouse-style gates set the style for a grand semi-ru­ral prop­erty be­yond.

The gen­er­ous kitchen has Shaker-style tim­ber pan­elling and Cae­sar­stone bench­tops.

The en­suite has full-length cur­tains that re­veal a bush view.

A ceramic drum makes a stylish ta­ble in the bath­room.

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