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
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.”