Home again This Syd­ney abode is a no-fuss en­ter­tain­ers’ par­adise

AN ABUN­DANCE OF LIGHT, LOVE­LI­NESS AND LOW-MAIN­TE­NANCE MAKE THIS REN­O­VATED SYD­NEY ABODE A STEP IN THE NEXT DI­REC­TION

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS -

NEW BE­GIN­NINGS In down­siz­ing from their pre­vi­ous fam­ily home, Nicole and Grant (with their daugh­ters Emily, 20, and Olivia, 18) were look­ing for a lower-main­te­nance life­style and room to en­ter­tain in the ef­fort­lessly ca­sual style they love. Both were achieved in their Syd­ney home, fol­low­ing a thor­ough ren­o­va­tion. To­day, slid­ing doors al­low an easy flow from the open-plan liv­ing room, where guests mix and min­gle within con­ver­sa­tion dis­tance of the kitchen, and the deck out­side.

Libby Robin­son from ESR In­te­rior De­sign helped fit out the space in a pal­ette rem­i­nis­cent of beach­side hol­i­days: shades of grey in ‘Bosko’ so­fas and an ‘Os­car’ chair, both from Jar­dan; soft teal ac­cents, in­clud­ing cus­tom cush­ions from Unique Fab­rics, and a Mai­son De Va­cances throw sourced from Bastille And Sons. A sandy-hued fea­ture stone around the fire­place speaks to the Cal­i­for­nia bun­ga­low’s her­itage.

Choos­ing a home should be a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward de­ci­sion, but of­ten life stages can get in the way; with young chil­dren, a prop­erty wish list can sud­denly be­come in­creas­ingly crammed. But with their two daugh­ters, Emily, 20, and Olivia, 18, on the cusp of adult­hood, Syd­neysiders Nicole and Grant were ready to trade in their big fam­ily home, and start think­ing about them­selves. “It was just get­ting too big,” says Nicole of their pre­vi­ous abode. “There were lots of rooms that we dis­cov­ered we didn’t use. And the week­end main­te­nance… It was time to cut back.” So the cou­ple started cast­ing around their lo­cal north shore sub­urb for pos­si­ble prop­er­ties. Un­afraid of a chal­lenge – they had two ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions un­der their belts al­ready – they searched for some­thing with strong bones that could be turned into a low­main­te­nance en­ter­tain­ers’ par­adise. “We wanted to build some­thing for us,” says Nicole. “We wanted our daugh­ters to be able to come and go, but mainly the house was to be the next stage for us.” Grant adds: “It was a house built for the par­ents, not the kids – though, that said, the girls have done very well!” The pair found the per­fect prop­erty, owned by an older cou­ple Nicole used to babysit for, and be­fore they knew it, they were in pos­ses­sion of a Cal­i­for­nian bun­ga­low, es­sen­tially charm­ing but vir­tu­ally un­touched for decades. Nicole and Grant’s pre­vi­ous ren­o­va­tions had armed them with a solid sta­ble of trusted tradies, who were joined on the project by Libby Robin­son of ESR In­te­rior De­sign, an old fam­ily friend who com­pletely ‘got’ what they wanted. “It’s so much eas­ier to de­sign for some­one you know re­ally well,” says Libby. Plans were ap­proved and the team got to work, pre­serv­ing the grace­ful pe­riod fea­tures of the fa­cade and the home’s front rooms and open­ing up the rear zones into a more mod­ern (and easy-care) en­ter­tain­ing space. A sec­ond­storey par­ents’ re­treat was also added. “It’s quite open-plan, be­cause that’s the way we live,” says Nicole, “but with lots of en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas. We can have mul­ti­ple gath­er­ings at the same time – the girls can en­ter­tain them­selves and we can shove off out of the way!” The brief to Libby was to cre­ate a re­laxed, con­tem­po­rary look, but the catch was she had to in­clude many of the cou­ple’s ex­ist­ing sen­ti­men­tal pieces, rang­ing from English-style an­tiques to Abo­rig­i­nal art, along­side many me­men­tos of their trav­els. “I like things with a bit of a story,” ex­plains Nicole. But what be­gan as a de­sign chal­lenge turned out to be a de­sign as­set, with the end re­sult com­fort­able, wel­com­ing and with a set­tled feel­ing, as though the fam­ily has lived here for years. “My style is con­tem­po­rary – but soft con­tem­po­rary, not cut­ting-edge with harsh lines – and that ended up work­ing well with the an­tique fur­ni­ture,” ex­plains de­signer Libby. It’s not only the fam­ily who love the end re­sult – their guests all re­mark on the home’s hol­i­day feel. “We love the way it has come to­gether and friends have also said that they feel very re­laxed here,” says Nicole. “It’s a nice feel­ing.”

STORY SHEL­LEY TUSTIN STYLING JOHN MANGILA PHO­TOG­RA­PHY SI­MON WHITBREAD

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