No Place Like Home
The joy of togetherness is woven into every element of this sparkling Sydney abode.
It’s all about the joy of family and good times in this reconfigured Sydney home.
Funny thing about houses... While one might fit the bill on a practical level, it will never feel like home if you don’t have an emotional connection to it. This was the case for Judy and Stephen Renkert, who downsized in 2011 to a lovely apartment on Sydney’ s northern beaches but soon realised it wasn’t for them. “Family is very important to us and we wanted space for our growing brood of grandchildren,” says Judy. “We also missed having a garden.”
Seeking something “manageable and unpretentious”, the couple found exactly what they were after on the lower north shore: a three-bedroom 1920s cottage with views of Sydney Harbour. “I knew the second I stepped through the door that this was the home for us,” says Judy. “It felt like the house wrapped itself around me.”
As warm and welcoming as the home was, Judy and Stephen initiated a few modifications to make it perfect. “We wanted to draw in more light and to reconfigure the floor plan to make the most of the view,” says Judy. They also decided that the kitchen, awkwardly situated near the entrance, should be moved to the rear and incorporated into a more family-friendly kitchen/dining/family area adjacent to the existing living room. A new wraparound verandah would deliver an additional entertaining zone. Finally, the lower-ground level (containing the third bedroom and laundry) would be expanded to make space for a bunkroom, a family room/guestroom, an additional bathroom and a larger laundry.
With family as the prime motivator, every inch of the brick house had to be useable, nothing too precious >
to touch. Judy was also keen for it to look and feel timeless, with the original home and new work in harmony. The couple’s son-in-law and builder, Andrew Foy of Dreamscape Constructions, proved invaluable in achieving the brief. Raked ceilings in the new section amplify the light and space, while beautifully detailed joinery – referencing the 1920s picture rails – adds character and that all-important element of continuity.
Family was top of mind when decorating, too, with treasured heirlooms and pieces the Renkerts have cherished for decades playing a starring role. “I think homes should be filled with memories and reflect the people who live in them,” says Judy. “We’ve collected lots of bits and pieces over the years that we still love.”
A coastal palette of white, soft blues, greys and taupes is used throughout, teamed with robust limed American oak flooring upstairs and honed travertine downstairs. “The colours tie in with the trees and water outside, and instantly create a sense of calm,” says Judy. “It’s so peaceful – the antidote to our busy lives.”
Judy says contentment is the prevailing feeling at home now. “The kitchen is my favourite room because that’s where my family congregates, and the floor plan flows so well that I can see almost every other area in the house from there. It’s charming but not precious. The whole family loves spending time here.” >
Dreamscape Constructions, Cremorne, NSW;
0414 620 000 or dscon.com.au.
FRONT COURTYARD above and opposite Homeowner Judy Renkert (seated at right) with fashion-designer daughter Lizzie, grandchildren Luella and Max and son-in-law Andrew Foy, who was also the builder on the project. Daisy the cavoodle is never far away. The dining table belonged to the previous owners. Tablecloth, Linen House. Dining chairs, Le Forge. Climbing star jasmine creates a fragrant frame for the water feature by Sam Hiney of Bespoke Masonry. The courtyard is paved with stone-look porcelain from Armstone. “We opted for porcelain pavers because they don’t require any maintenance,” says Judy. Landscaping by Adam Robinson Design. Smart buy: DLT84129 marble fan mosaic tiles (on wall), $30/sheet, Di Lorenzo Tiles.
KITCHEN this page and opposite, bottom right Relocating the kitchen was pivotal to the renovation; it’s now Judy’s favourite room. Design by The Kitchen Maker. Pendant lights, The Light Site. ‘St Tropez’ bar stools, Alfresco Emporium. Corian benchtops. Smeg stove and rangehood. Wreath, Koch & Co. Cake stand, Williams-Sonoma. Limed American oak flooring. Foliage and flowers throughout, Mandalay Flowers. Local hero: Gingerbread village (guarded by Max and Luella), from $295, including chocolate box with lollies, Scrumptious Chocolates and Cakes. PORTRAIT Luella helps spread the festive joy. GIFTS See following pages for tree, gift wrap and decoration details. TABLE SETTING “My Christmas table always has a white tablecloth and touches of silver and gold,” says Judy. Napkin, Peacocks and Paisleys. Charger, Pottery Barn. Blue and white ornaments, Alfresco Emporium.