The owner of this Syd­ney har­bour­side apart­ment was so in­spired by one of Lon­don’s dreami­est restau­rant spaces, she hired its cre­ator.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Apartments - By Alexan­dra Gor­don

DIN­NER AT SPRING RESTAU­RANT in Lon­don was the start­ing point for the re­vamp of a 1960s-era three-bed­room apart­ment in Syd­ney’s El­iz­a­beth Bay. The Bris­bane-based owner fell in love with the ma­jes­tic, ethereal space Bri­ony Fitzger­ald cre­ated for her sis­ter, the cel­e­brated chef Skye Gyn­gell, and knew she wanted the de­signer to bring this soft sen­si­bil­ity to her Eastern Sub­urbs re­treat, where her grown chil­dren could drop in for some fam­ily time when­ever she and her hus­band are in town. “We didn’t need a big show home,” she says. “We wanted to cre­ate some­thing that had a com­fort­able fam­ily vibe. I love Bri­ony’s sense of colour. She is very in­flu­enced by look­ing at the wa­ter — the light, the blues and the greys — and she has a fan­tas­tic eye for tex­tiles. Know­ing that I love Spring as much as I do, she had a pretty clear idea of where my head was at.” The feel­ing was mu­tual. Here, Fitzger­ald talks about how cru­cial the de­signer-client re­la­tion­ship is to a suc­cess­ful re­sult, and the sheer magic of a slow re­veal. I al­ways say that the place you’re de­sign­ing tells you what it wants. I don’t know un­til I go in which way it faces, what the light is do­ing. It’s re­ally about col­lab­o­ra­tion. My mother was an in­te­rior de­signer and she al­ways said, “You’re only as good as your client al­lows you to be.” And that is so true: if peo­ple let you do your job well, you can give them some­thing re­ally good, but if they try to con­trol you or you’re not suited, you can make it work but it won’t sing. It was the right fit with this client and a great space, so it was easy to make it look good. ››

‹‹ The owner loved the ethereal feel­ing of Spring but she wanted more earthy tones. So we dirt­ied it up and dark­ened it down. The so­fas are cov­ered in a heavy linen in a colour called Petrol but we cov­ered the Hay About a Lounge chairs in the same dusty-pink wool that’s on the Maya so­fas at the restau­rant. Like Spring, there’s beau­ti­ful grass cloth wall­pa­per, which we fea­tured in the main bed­room, but it’s light grey rather than pale blue. We had to cus­tom make the so­fas to suit the gen­er­ous pro­por­tions. If this had been a one-bed­room apart­ment, you couldn’t use the scale of fur­ni­ture that we did. But be­cause we were deal­ing with two apartments com­bined, the so­fas had to be quite big — they are each three me­tres long and made in two pieces, be­cause oth­er­wise we couldn’t fit them in the lift. We were very mind­ful of ac­cess: if you make that mis­take once, you never make it again! The own­ers keep adding things. The de­sign of the in­te­rior is not a lin­eal time frame from be­gin­ning to end. We did ev­ery­thing and then the clients said, “Now we want to do the kitchen.” They wanted to do a black kitchen and I said, “Go, that’s great!” De­signer Bren­dan Rob­bins, who worked with me on the project, drew it all up. There’s a beau­ti­ful grain in all the tim­bers; even the black and white join­ery is stained oak. If there’s one sin­gu­lar thing that adds to the ethereal mood of the apart­ment, it’s the cur­tains. They wrap around the whole liv­ing space. If you took them away, it would look raw and too bright. They’re a very pale, smoky grey but be­cause they’re fac­ing the wa­ter, they go blue. They also change colour with the sun: they be­come alive in the morn­ing be­cause the apart­ment is fac­ing due east, and in the af­ter­noon, when the sun is set­ting in the west, they’re much qui­eter. We made the en­trance re­ally dark, so you get out of the lift and then you open the front door and walk through the hall and you go, “Wow!” It’s a slow re­veal. Even if you stripped the whole thing and you walked in and the cur­tains were blow­ing, it would feel amaz­ing. Visit briony­fitzger­ald­de­sign.com.au

Pho­tographed by Prue Rus­coe

from top: in a view of the KITCHEN, join­ery by Carve In­te­ri­ors; art­works by Marisa Pur­cell. In the MAIN BED­ROOM, cus­tom bed­head by Ate­lier Up­hol­stery cov­ered in De­sign­ers Guild Br­era Lino in Dove, en­quiries to Radford; bed linen from Otilly & Lewis;...

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