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