Confessions of an Australian addicted to American interior design

This is how you make Hamptons decor work for Australian living
Chris Warnes

Inspired by her favourite destination, Therese has created a dazzling home on Sydney’s north shore that blends glamour with family functionality.

With its vast proportions and sumptuous interiors, Therese and Derek’s home reflects the best of American style, yet is truly an Australian space for the couple and their family – William, 14, Luke, 12, and fox terrier Ruby.

When marketing consultant Therese decided to turn her years of addiction to American design into a new family home, she went next level – and straight to the source. “For my 40th birthday, went for a trip to the Hamptons, and I actually planned it so we were deliberately there on a Saturday so we could go to all the open homes,” she explains. “I literally went to every real estate agent and picked up all their brochures. We were just hopping around all these houses so I could have a look inside!”

The cathedral-style roofline – 4.5 metres at its highest point – brings in openness and sunshine. “It was a big decision, but it would be a totally different house if we hadn’t done it,” adds the homeowner.

Hamptons decor for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Dining room

“I wanted it to have a really classic feel and not to feel too modern,” says Therese. The monochrome look is continued with black ‘Markson’ dining chairs with white piping, sourced from Coco Republic – “I love the formality of the piping,” says Therese – and a kitchen island topped with Carrara marble. The herringbone-patterned ‘Bone Inlaid’ bar cabinet from West Elm has a New York vibe about it and is topped with a vintage green vase, found by Derek’s father, Brian.

“I kept saying to the builder, ‘I want it grand and filled with light’,”

Therese of the statement ceiling in the combined living areas.
This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

This wasn’t the first time Therese and her husband, Derek, had been to the US. The pair, along with their sons, William and Luke, are regular visitors to the shores – and designers – that she finds endlessly inspiring. “The first interior designer that I had a crush on was Jonathan Adler,” says Therese, who counts Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York among other favourite design stops. “I’ve kept getting drawn to American architecture more than anything else.”

This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

The couple gutted the extension on their Cape Cod home, with a view to doing a full renovation down the track. Fast forward 11 years, and with heads filled with research and New-York-glam-meets-East-Coast style ideas, they engaged architect Stephen Grech + Associates and builder Daniel Clark, who recommended interior designer Melanie Tomlinson to help bring their American dream to life.

This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Living room

“Green is my absolute favourite colour and when she put the dusty pink with it, it was quite beautiful.” A pair of sofas from Domayne, covered in ‘Plush Forest’ Warwick velvet, provide luxe appeal.

Underfoot is a rug Therese found at, while white sheers add softness. A ‘Victoria’ floral print cushion from The Vignette Room is a gorgeous addition, as are the blue vessels Therese found in her father-in-law’s shed and white Jonathan Adler pieces picked up in the US.

“In summer we open up all the doors and windows and there’s this amazing airflow right through. It’s such a beautiful house to live in.”

Therese, Homeowner
This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

Initially, the couple had planned just to renovate, but when the builders moved in, they soon discovered the floors needed to be ripped up, piers replaced and that excavation was required. The solution? The architect quickly drew up new plans and the home was knocked down for a complete rebuild.

The expansive four-bedroom home now opens to a vast, yet inviting hallway (complete with beautifully refined mouldings) that leads to a mud room, grand staircase and an elegant interpretation of a ‘Great Room’, a very American concept that encompasses several zones in one large space.

In addition to a main bedroom suite downstairs, the upstairs holds the boys’ rooms, a bathroom, guest room and living area. All are decorated with high-end designer pieces mixed with difficult-to-resist bargains.

This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
A sense of calm and comfort imbues Derek and Therese’s bedroom (Credit: Chris Warnes)
This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

A black ‘Kilo’ bath from Gianni & Costa fits into the couple’s preferred colour scheme. Black ‘Deco Series’ hexagon tiles from Amber Tiles on the floor are a crisp contrast to the white wall tiles.

This is how you make Hamptons style work for Australian living
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

How would you describe your style?

Therese: “I would say it’s a bit New York, a bit Cape Cod and a splash of Jonathan Adler.”

Is Derek as obsessed with US style as you?

“We have very similar tastes. You don’t know that when you get married. You don’t ask – ‘What are your design tastes?’ He’s got very strong opinions, but luckily most of our opinions are the same!”

What was the biggest lesson that you learnt throughout the build?

“Trusting my design taste, but then getting an interior designer in to work with to get exactly what I wanted, and to make the different styles work together.”

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