Desert song This couple have created their own slice of Palm Springs
INSPIRED BY MODERNIST ARCHITECTURE, ONE COUPLE HAVE CREATED THEIR OWN SLICE OF PALM SPRINGS IN SYDNEY
“THE sandstone WAS A HUGE JOB – THE STONEMASON WAS HERE FOR ABOUT THREE MONTHS hand-cutting THE PIECES” ~ SHARMIN
Late on a summer’s day, as the light begins to fade, Sharmin and John love to spend time poolside at their family home. “The view is just magic from our cabana when it’s starting to get dark,” says John. At moments such as this, the Sydney couple, who have long shared a love for mid-century Californian architecture, feel they could almost be in Palm Springs. Except, notes personal stylist Sharmin with a laugh, the presence of the one thing you’d be unlikely to encounter in the iconic desert resort town: “Our kids’ trampoline!” “John’s always been into that whole Rat Pack era,” explains Sharmin. “He loves the cocktails-by-the-pool vibe, but he’s also such a family man, so he wanted our house to be a modern interpretation of that – a place where you always have your family around you. And that’s what we have here.” Parents to sons Ike, 13, and Sonny, 10, the couple knew they had discovered ‘the one’ before they even stepped over the property’s threshold, back in 2008. “I can remember walking down the driveway and both of us pinching each other going, ‘Oh my God! It’s got palm trees!’” says Sharmin. “We both love [legendary Californian architect] Richard Neutra and that sort of sprawling, single-storey open living. When we first walked into this house, we were both like, ‘I think we can do that here.’ It had that bungalow feeling already and, of course, we kept almost every palm tree that was on the property.” The house, as it stood, was almost ready for a makeover. So, after living in it as it was for a few years, the couple called on the expertise of architect and friend Andrew Donaldson from Andrew Donaldson Architecture & Design. Presenting their vision, they were thrilled to discover they were all in sync with their ideas about an extensive remodel and addition. “Andrew knows us well – our children have been friends since they were young – so he understood what it’s like to have kids and still be into design and beautiful architecture,” says Sharmin. “He’s also been to Palm Springs a number of times, so we struck a common vein there straight away.” With Andrew’s help, the couple brought their modernist vision to life, creating a low-lying, single-level home that embraces natural light, organic materials and zesty hues. “Everything is orientated to enjoy the sun as much as possible,” says Sharmin. “But there is no air-conditioning. It’s all passive thermal mass with concrete floors. John and I are both quite environmentally conscious. That’s also why we didn’t want to lose any of the trees.” The warmth and stunning texture of Sydney sandstone also plays a starring role, both inside and out. “I just love the stone,” says John. “It’s so beautiful.” Adds Sharmin: “A stonemason hand-cut all the pieces. We wanted to make sure there was nothing too symmetrical about it. It’s a real feature.” Yet perhaps the crowning glory is the abode’s easy connection with the outdoors. “We feel like we’re always on holidays,” says Sharmin. Indeed, the couple couldn’t be happier with the realisation of their Palm Springs-inspired dream. “We often pinch ourselves, going, ‘We did this – we created this!’ ” says Sharmin. “The vision has become the reality.”
LIVING & DINING ROOMS As stylish as it is functional, the property’s customised, three-sided, sandstone-clad Real Flame fireplace defines the living and dining zones (above). When it came to furnishing their home, Sharmin and John adopted a ‘bit by bit’ approach. An original mid-century Danish rosewood dining table – adorned with a runner from Lunatiques and illuminated by a Poul Henningsen ‘PH5’ pendant light from Living Edge – was bought by the couple “before we had even laid a brick”. Zingy pops of lime come courtesy of restored original ‘Kai #42’ by Kai Kristiansen dining chairs. In the living domain, the ‘Nook’ sofa by Jardan, made even more inviting with cushions from Freedom and a grey Sheridan throw, continues the mid-century theme.
STORY KATRINA O’BRIEN & JACKIE BRYGEL STYLING RACHEL PETERSPHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS WARNES