Inside Out (Australia)

When a wine collection inspires a home’s overhaul, the result is every bit as noteworthy as you’d expect

After two decades in an unrenovate­d 1960s house, a busy executive made more space for herself, her daughter — and a prized wine collection

- WORDS DAN F STAPLETON PHOTOGRAPH­Y THE PALM CO STYLING KITTY LEE

Architect and interior designer Kitty Lee first met her potential client Chew Lim at Chew’s house in suburban Sydney, where the scene spoke volumes. “Kitty could see boxes and boxes of wine everywhere,” says Chew, laughing. “So she knew immediatel­y what was important to me.” Chew had purchased the compact house – in Kingsford, close to Sydney Airport – 16 years earlier, around the same time that her daughter Phoebe was born. The red-brick bungalow had served Chew and Phoebe well, but over time it had begun to feel cramped. “In addition to the wine situation, Phoebe was about to begin studying for her HSC,” explains Kitty. “Both mother and daughter were in need of more room.”

By the time Kitty showed up, Chew had already been planning to renovate for almost a year. “Chew had hired another architect before me, who took her through the DA process and got it approved,” says Kitty. But Chew had trouble communicat­ing with her original architect, and when a colleague suggested contacting Kitty instead, she didn’t hesitate. Using the existing DA as a starting point, they began planning afresh, while being mindful of not doing anything requiring them to go back to council. That meant no significan­t changes to the house’s exterior, apart from a pre-approved back deck.

Inside, however, Kitty and Chew opted for some major alteration­s. “I ended up tweaking the arrangemen­t of every single room,” says Kitty. “It was a full internal redesign.”

dream it

Chew told Kitty that she was hoping to expand the footprint of the main bedroom and, if possible, add a walk-in wardrobe. Phoebe’s bedroom, which overlooked the back garden, was also on the small side – and both mother and daughter dreamed of having separate bathrooms.

The exterior of the property was also due for a re-think. “One of my most basic requiremen­ts was to bring the external laundry inside the house,” says Chew. “I always found it difficult going outside when it rained, or during winter time, or even in summer when there were a lot of mozzies.”

In addition, Chew wanted to install a deck to make the property more conducive to entertaini­ng. “The house was built with concrete steps leading down to a paved backyard area,” Kitty explains, “but Chew wanted a deck that was on the same level as the house to create an indoor-outdoor flow.”

Chew allowed Kitty to choose an aesthetic direction for the renovation. She did, however, nominate a starting point. “The house had beautiful old floorboard­s, but there were gaps between some of them and I was scared those gaps would get even bigger,” says Chew. “Replacing the floors was a priority.”

design it

The DA included plans to repurpose the single-car garage, which was located at the front of the house next to the main bedroom. “It was so narrow that Chew’s car could barely fit in,” says Kitty. “We converted that space into a new ensuite and walk-in wardrobe for the main bedroom.” The external laundry was another space that Chew was happy to reclaim. “What used to be the external laundry became part of the second bedroom, and we created a new laundry inside,” says Kitty.

In the main bedroom, a clever new joinery unit was designed to conceal a study nook and a hidden door to the walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. In Phoebe’s bedroom, a full-width desk overlookin­g a new picture window was integrated with the bookshelve­s and wardrobe to provide plenty of space for the year 12 student to study and store her things.

The dining room was to be relocated from the front entry area to the rear of the house, with new bifold doors opening onto the deck. And the galley kitchen, which connects the front entry area and the rear dining room, was slated to be rebuilt, with the main kitchen bench extended. “The old kitchen was not really big enough to fit both a normal fridge and a wine fridge,” Kitty explains, “so we extended the bench out.”

do it

Kitty’s starting point for the interior design was handsome blackbutt timber, which she used for the new floorboard­s and much of the joinery. “The house was quite humble, so I wanted to introduce a richer material palette,” she says. “Though we have white joinery in the bedrooms (to make them lighter and brighter), we still have blackbutt timber benchtops and desks in there to tie in with the rest of the house.”

Meanwhile, the kitchen was dramatical­ly transforme­d with midnight-blue joinery, fluted-glass cabinets and soft-grey stone benchtops. “It’s a galley kitchen, and you walk through it to reach the rear,” says Kitty. “I wanted a darker palette there so it fades into the background. It didn’t need to be a feature like the two spaces that bookend it.” The centrepiec­e of the new dining room is a full-wall display unit for Chew’s precious wine collection, designed by Kitty and crafted from blackbutt timber. “It’s perfect,” says the delighted owner.

After the false start with her previous architect, Chew had found herself becoming fatigued with the renovation process, but says linking up with Kitty made all the difference. “I’m not in a rush to do it again, but I am very happy with the result – and count myself lucky that we were able to move back in before the coronaviru­s lockdown in March.”

See more of Kitty Lee’s work at klarch.com.au or @kittyleear­chitecture

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 ??  ?? entry
This is the perfect space for visitors to sit and remove their shoes. The long seat cushion over the storage drawer is upholstere­d in Banyan Indigo fabric by Wortley Group.
entry This is the perfect space for visitors to sit and remove their shoes. The long seat cushion over the storage drawer is upholstere­d in Banyan Indigo fabric by Wortley Group.
 ??  ?? dining room
Chew’s wine collection is prominentl­y displayed in the magnificen­t blackbutt cabinetry. She hosts dinners at the terrazzo-topped Astra table, with guests comfortabl­y seated on Astra dining chairs and Bunny chairs by Curio, all from Trit House. The Semi pendant light is by Gubi, through Finnish Design Shop.
dining room Chew’s wine collection is prominentl­y displayed in the magnificen­t blackbutt cabinetry. She hosts dinners at the terrazzo-topped Astra table, with guests comfortabl­y seated on Astra dining chairs and Bunny chairs by Curio, all from Trit House. The Semi pendant light is by Gubi, through Finnish Design Shop.
 ??  ?? kitchen
The new and improved kitchen includes a Vintec wine fridge.
Its main benchtop extends into the entryway to provide extra room for food prep when required.
The dark midnight-blue joinery (opposite left) is offset by Quantum Quartz benchtops in soft Ash Grey and Polytec cupboard doors with fluted-glass inserts.
kitchen The new and improved kitchen includes a Vintec wine fridge. Its main benchtop extends into the entryway to provide extra room for food prep when required. The dark midnight-blue joinery (opposite left) is offset by Quantum Quartz benchtops in soft Ash Grey and Polytec cupboard doors with fluted-glass inserts.
 ??  ?? bedroom/study
A coat of Dulux Natural White paint amplifies the natural light in Phoebe’s bedroom. The Siren Tria carpet by Cavalier Bremworth is made entirely from recycled fibres.
bedroom/study A coat of Dulux Natural White paint amplifies the natural light in Phoebe’s bedroom. The Siren Tria carpet by Cavalier Bremworth is made entirely from recycled fibres.
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 ??  ?? laundry
Tucked between the second bedroom and second bathroom, the self-contained laundry room is a welcome alternativ­e to the previous outdoor wash space.
laundry Tucked between the second bedroom and second bathroom, the self-contained laundry room is a welcome alternativ­e to the previous outdoor wash space.
 ??  ?? 1 Entry
2 Living
3 Kitchen
4 Dining area/
wine storage
5 Main bedroom
6 Ensuite
7 Walk-in robe 8 Bedroom
9 Bathroom
10 Laundry
11 Bedroom
12 Deck
1 Entry 2 Living 3 Kitchen 4 Dining area/ wine storage 5 Main bedroom 6 Ensuite 7 Walk-in robe 8 Bedroom 9 Bathroom 10 Laundry 11 Bedroom 12 Deck
 ??  ?? bathroom
There was enough space in Phoebe’s bathroom for a freestandi­ng Ellisse bathtub by Parisi. The taps in both wet areas are by Phoenix Tapware.
bathroom There was enough space in Phoebe’s bathroom for a freestandi­ng Ellisse bathtub by Parisi. The taps in both wet areas are by Phoenix Tapware.
 ??  ?? ensuite
A double-width Victoria + Albert sink sits in a slab of Quantum Quartz that matches the kitchen benchtops. Industrial Steel Soft tiles from Di Lorenzo line the walls and floors of both bathrooms.
ensuite A double-width Victoria + Albert sink sits in a slab of Quantum Quartz that matches the kitchen benchtops. Industrial Steel Soft tiles from Di Lorenzo line the walls and floors of both bathrooms.

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