By in­fus­ing her Syd­ney har­bour­side home with exquisite de­tails rem­i­nis­cent of her fa­mous col­lec­tions, fash­ion de­signer Collette Din­ni­gan has trans­formed an aus­tere for­mer Ma­sonic lodge into an airy re­treat.

VOGUE Living Australia - - In Store - By CHRIS PEAR­SON Pho­tographed by FELIX FOR­EST Styled by VIC­TO­RIA COL­LI­SON

perched above the har­bour in Syd­ney’s east­ern suburbs, this home be­gan life in the 1920s as a Ma­sonic lodge. Now it’s a re­treat of a dif­fer­ent sort for its own­ers, fash­ion de­signer Collette Din­ni­gan, and her hus­band, hote­lier Bradley Cocks. With mar­ble floors, pil­lars and clas­si­cal ar­chi­traves, Din­ni­gan’s “strong­hold” has all the so­lid­ity its ori­gins would sug­gest, but she has soft­ened it with an al­lur­ing range of more fem­i­nine fur­ni­ture and fin­ishes. Af­ter liv­ing in Syd­ney’s Padding­ton for 13 years, the de­signer wanted a sea change. “I have al­ways loved this area,” she says. “It’s like a fish­ing vil­lage, with a sense of com­mu­nity, and it of­fered many ad­van­tages for our two chil­dren [Estella, 11, and Hunter, 3]. You feel like you’re on hol­i­day — sadly, though, I never am.” Din­ni­gan bus­ies her­self with many projects. Re­cently she scaled down her fash­ion busi­ness but ramped up her in­te­rior de­sign work. “I love that it com­bines the old and the new, the ex­pen­sive and the in­ex­pen­sive,” she says. “Not every­thing has to be ex­pen­sive to get a qual­ity look. And you work with a great range of fab­rics.” While she gained fame from her ready-to-wear fash­ion ranges, many of which adorned the Paris cat­walks, this home, pur­chased in 2015, was never go­ing to be prêt-à-porter. It’s a cou­ture one- off, tailored to Din­ni­gan’s per­son­al­ity and her take on the world — warm, stylish and whim­si­cal. With a cav­ernous 160-square-me­tre open-plan liv­ing area, fiveme­tre-high ceil­ings, and mar­ble and par­quetry floor­ing, the build­ing gave her gen­er­ous ma­te­rial to work with. Con­verted into a home in 2008 — with the ad­di­tion of four bed­rooms on the sec­ond floor and a mez­za­nine sit­ting area over­look­ing Syd­ney Har­bour on the third — it was mas­cu­line and dark. “It was like an over­size bach­e­lor pad,” Din­ni­gan re­calls. “I wanted to make the place fem­i­nine and fam­ily friendly.” Its size was both an as­set and a draw­back — while per­fect for en­ter­tain­ing, the fam­ily could be lost in its grand scale. Her brief? “I wanted to cre­ate a Euro­pean feel like the Cap d’An­tibes [on the French Riviera] — I am in­spired by old-style ho­tels of France and Italy,” she says. “I wanted it re­fined and el­e­gant, and to re­flect a love of trav­el­ling and col­lect­ing.” Per­haps the big­gest chal­lenge was to tame its pro­por­tions. First up, Din­ni­gan in­stalled a re­cy­cled French fire­place to make the open plan more in­ti­mate and pro­vide a fo­cal point for one of the two sit­ting ar­eas that break up the space. On the top storey, she en­closed the mez­za­nine to cre­ate a cosy, in­for­mal liv­ing area com­plete with kitchen and fam­ily bath­room. The ad­di­tion of this and an­other new bath­room cre­ated six bath­rooms in to­tal, all now in Car­rara mar­ble. Stor­age was a must, es­pe­cially with chil­dren. New pan­elled cab­i­netry and re­cy­cled panel doors, all white, lend that Riviera am­bi­ence. Only a small amount of Din­ni­gan’s ex­ist­ing fur­ni­ture came with her. “It felt like it was from a doll’s house,” she says. “The scale was so wrong.” In the liv­ing area, she opted for over­size so­fas, ta­bles and French cab­i­nets. Or­nate pressed-sil­ver din­ing chairs once from an In­dian palace found a place around an old Dan­ish cheese ta­ble in the vo­lu­mi­nous din­ing area, but a Swedish Gus­ta­vian sofa from her old home looked pe­tite and was rel­e­gated to the guest room. ››

‹‹ Through­out are sig­na­ture touches, not un­like the pal­ettes and del­i­cate pat­terns that de­fine her fash­ion ranges. “I love white,” says Din­ni­gan, “es­pe­cially blue and white. I will go with a colour and ex­plore ev­ery hue, like an ocean of blues from pale blue to cobalt, and add pea­cock-blue for vi­brancy.” Or, like a lick of lip­stick, she will add a burst of red. She also favours “dirty”, slightly off colours. Then you will find flour­ishes like a Mu­rano chan­de­lier, a tex­tured Pais­ley cur­tain and a sin­u­ous carved leg re­call­ing the exquisite de­tail of her cat­walk col­lec­tions. “It’s Euro­pean in­spi­ra­tion, but also bo­hemian — a bit of the gypsy com­bined with pieces from In­dia and China,” she says. By con­trast, Din­ni­gan ex­presses her quirky hu­mour in the art­work. There’s the “crazy and ec­cen­tric” Kate Ber­gin hy­per-re­al­ist paint­ing in the liv­ing area and a life-size whale paint­ing along the ad­join­ing 16-me­tre wall. “There are few places that could fit in,” she says. Her flair has cre­ated an airy, fem­i­nine home on a hu­man scale that is, above all, highly in­di­vid­ual. Once op­pres­sive and aus­tere, “it was like liv­ing in Moscow, but now it’s like Paris,” says Cocks. Ex­tend­ing the tour of Euro­pean cap­i­tals, the fam­ily is now so­journ­ing in Rome. “We just wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” says Din­ni­gan. Odds are, her unique Syd­ney sanc­tu­ary will soon beckon her home.

above: flo­ral so­fas cov­ered in green ‘Pavil­lon Chi­nois Pear’ fab­ric from SCHU­MACHER; light fit­ting from CHARLES ED­WARDS; ma­rine co­ral handmade Span­ish lamps; an­tique ori­en­tal con­soles from ORI­ENT HOUSE. op­po­site page: in the liv­ing room, side ta­bles by RALPH LAU­REN; GUAXS vases on cof­fee ta­ble.

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