No Place Like Home

The joy of to­geth­er­ness is wo­ven into every el­e­ment of this sparkling Syd­ney abode.

Australian House & Garden - - THE CHRISTMAS ISSUE DECEMBER - STORY Ta­ma­rah Pien­aar | STYLING Kayla Gex PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Ma­ree Homer

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

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.

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