In her spa­cious apart­ment in Sydney’s eastern sub­urbs, in­te­rior de­signer and au­thor Si­bella Court pays homage to her love of vin­tage, hard­ware and all things hand­made


Si­bella Court is the self-de­scribed cap­tain of Sydney home­wares store The So­ci­ety Inc. In ad­di­tion to her in­te­rior de­sign work for ho­tels (Ho­tel Pal­isade), restau­rants, bars (in­clud­ing The Oaks, Mr Wong, Ms G’s), and out­back home­steads, Court pro­duces a bian­nual news­pa­per and a hard­ware line in­spired by her love of vin­tage. Here, she de­scribes the in­spi­ra­tions be­hind her colour­ful apart­ment in Sydney’s Belle­vue Hill and her un­usual pas­sion for kitchen sinks.

We chose the lo­ca­tion be­cause of its prox­im­ity to all of our friends. The gar­den is ir­ri­gated be­cause we travel all the time. That’s the nice thing about liv­ing in an apart­ment — you can just walk out and not worry about se­cu­rity. Most of the time I know ex­actly what I want a space to

look like. I never stray from my first ini­tial thought. I love throw­ing in all the vin­tage things. The best shop in Sydney for this — other than my own — is Sea­sonal Con­cepts in Red­fern. I buy a lot from Ken [Wal­lis, the owner]. I have a thing for sinks. I al­ways have 10 sinks ready to go and I usu­ally start build­ing a project around it — we had the out­door kitchen here built first. It drives Ben [Harper, Court’s hus­band] crazy. Even when it was his 40th birth­day last year and he said, “Go and buy a party dress”, I came back with a 19th-cen­tury French mar­ble sink. I at­tract them. I thought I should take my own ad­vice and not have white

any­where. There is beauty in colour. It doesn’t make a room darker or smaller. I wanted to ex­per­i­ment so you wouldn’t walk in and think, “Wow, this is a very colour­ful house”, but more that it’s just a beau­ti­ful back­drop no mat­ter what you put against it. The ren­o­va­tion was pretty quick be­cause we have amaz­ing

trades­peo­ple. I’ve done a lot of projects with my builders, CWF Con­struc­tions, be­fore. The pre­vi­ous own­ers had a lot of built-in stor­age and we ripped ev­ery­thing out. Orig­i­nally there was a wall di­vid­ing the liv­ing area and a very lit­tle kitchen. It was dark and there was all of this wasted space, so we took the wall out. Winch­ester In­te­ri­ors did the beau­ti­ful kitchen join­ery, they did Fred’s restau­rant in Padding­ton and they’re just leg­ends. I have a fas­ci­na­tion with elec­tri­cal com­po­nents. This light switch in the pantry I had shipped from Swe­den be­cause I wanted this lit­tle tog­gle on it. When you get down to the de­tails it’s a lit­tle crazy, like the kitchen draw­ers, which are lined with Laminex that I had matched with the paint colour on the cab­i­netry. I love it be­cause ev­ery time I open this drawer I just think, “Wow, this is an awe­some drawer.” I’m try­ing to teach peo­ple that things like hard­ware don’t all

have to look the same. I have about 10 dif­fer­ent hard­ware pieces in my kitchen but it doesn’t feel like there’s 10 dif­fer­ent styles be­cause they’re all in the same tone. You can choose a story so it all goes to­gether. I have a black­smith, Saul Tomkins from Colo­forge, who I work with on my hard­ware range. He’s done all the kitchen shelv­ing, which is hand­made, and these beau­ti­ful legs on the kitchen is­land bench, which look like tim­ber but he’s hand-stamped them from steel. We work so well to­gether. I think I met him in another life­time. I love all the old trades. They’re com­ing back again and there’s this resur­gence of in­ter­est from younger peo­ple. Life is so fast. Tech­nol­ogy doesn’t give you a rest and I think there’s a huge turn back to the craft move­ment where you can have a nice life that is sat­is­fy­ing and you’re not dic­tated to. We know work­ing with your hands re­duces stress and we know that it’s good for your men­tal health. The tac­til­ity of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als res­onates with some­thing deep in­side us. It’s about our con­nec­tion with the earth, not your con­nec­tion with your iPhone. It’s not to say that I don’t love tech­nol­ogy. It links you with so many peo­ple that you have so much in com­mon with, but there has to be a point where you dis­con­nect. ››

‹‹ We’re work­ing on four big projects at the mo­ment. One is a cat­tle sta­tion in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory that has a homestead stay. The build­ing is mas­sive, about the size of three ten­nis courts, and there’s a guest block that has 12 rooms, which we’re do­ing up right now. It’s just so beau­ti­ful and so uniquely Aus­tralian. You fly in and the airstrip is right in front of the homestead. It’s 75 kilo­me­tres to the front gate and it’s boab tree coun­try so you have that sil­hou­ette in the land­scape. It’s trop­i­cal and dusty, and the birdlife is mind-blow­ing. I don’t want a big team be­cause that means you have to man­age a lot of peo­ple, which means you can’t get to do

Su­mi­na­gashi on a Tues­day. That’s what we were do­ing last week out there on the ter­race — play­ing with ink. I’m not a man­ager; I just want to make stuff and I want to be across all my projects, so we just take on as much as we can, which seems to be quite a bit.”

THIS PAGE: Si­bella Court. op­po­site page: in the HALL­WAY, on left wall, vin­tage Ja­panese pil­grim jacket from Edo Arts; vin­tage Chi­nese bench stool from Stone Pony; on right wall, flax rope light by Christien Mein­dertsma; dip-dyed fab­ric lan­tern from The...

THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: IN THE MAIN BED­ROOM, hand-loomed quilt from Maiwa; Ma­jor Mi­nor linen sheets from The So­ci­ety Inc; rug from Cadrys; cus­tom-made Fire­ball surf­board by McTav­ish; wall painted with cus­tom Murobond Dampier from The...

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