Heart and soul emanate from every sumptuously decorated space in the Sydney home of Leanne and Trent, who renovated the compact, 1880 workman’s cottage three years ago, and spend their workdays surrounded by equally gorgeous wares at their treasure trove of a store, Quintessential Duckeggblue in Balmain. Pre-renovation, this sun-dappled courtyard, where Woody, one of the couple’s four dogs, enjoys the breeze, was the side entrance. Now revamped, it’s one of Leanne’s favourite spots.
The main courtyard plays host to an antique table and chairs and an industrial window, all found in the south of France. “I reclaim old windows, restore them to their former glory and add mirrored glass to them,” Leanne explains. “It’s not an easy job.”
Leanne’s innate style extends into the rear courtyard, which features antique French cinema seats, gardening tools and examples of one of the couple’s passions: typography. “I reclaimed the single numbers from a showground in Warwickshire, England,” Leanne says. “They date from the 1940s.”
A vintage zinc Brillié clock is a stand-out piece in the couple’s kitchen which also includes an enamel British Transport sign from the 1930s. Leanne and Trent rarely cook, but still designed the kitchen around the handsome Belling ‘Richmond’ range oven that reminds Leanne of her childhood. Displayed around the room are collections of vintage kitchenware, including copper pots, stoneware for mustard and jams and white Shelley jelly moulds. “The shapes and patterns are beautiful,” Leanne says. “I’ve never used them for making jelly, just for decorative or practical purposes, like displaying herbs.”
The Shaws ‘Classic Butler 800’ sink from Candana is a traditional touch, and is paired with a Perrin & Rowe ‘Ionian’ mixer from The English Tapware Company.
A collection of old chairs surround the French walnut table that Leanne found in Provence and lovingly restored. The buffet dates to the late 1700s and was refurbished by Trent. “He was careful not to over-restore it,” Leanne says. “We love natural flaws and the warmth and history of the patina.” On top of the buffet are weighted Indian clubs from the 1920s and ’30s, once used by athletes for work-outs. The mirror, from an Irish pharmacy, is one of Leanne’s favourite pieces in the home. The French enamel industrial pendants are from the 1930s.
The English drawing-room look gets an update in the living room, where Deborah Bowness ‘Bookshelves’ wallpaper and the Night Market 11 artwork by Guy Mathews – featuring numbers from French flower- market price tickets – add modernity. More traditional is the Vox Populi ‘French Portrait’ cushion, sourced from Parterre.
During the renovation, the couple’s architect, Josephine Hurley, added a little Hamptons style by lining the stairs and adjoining dining-room walls and ceiling with boards. “I have a soft spot for the Hamptons look,” says Leanne, whose collection of prints and posters on the stairs makes a gallery of the neat space.
One of Leanne and Trent’s favourite pieces is the 1920s mahogany tall boy in the upper-level attic. “It was originally in a gentleman’s clothing and tailor store,” says Leanne, who designed the built-in shelving around the piece. “It’s full of handbags, sunglasses and my sketchbooks and portfolios. It’s great storage.” The striking ‘Well Glass’ pendants are by English firm Davey Lighting, available here through Dunlin.
An old trolley from a Sydney hospital doubles as a bedside table and houses a working Bakelite radio in the bedroom. Neutral-toned Sheridan linen dresses the bed, and Leanne discovered the industrial pendant light in France. “I found just this single but even if I’d found another one, I wouldn’t have hung it on the opposite side of the bed: I don’t really go in for matching pairs,” she says. The school hooks are a practical solution: “I’m really bad at putting my clothes away!”
The cast-iron freestanding bath, from The Cast Iron Bath Company in the UK, is one of the home’s few new pieces and weighs a cool 135 kilograms. “I wanted just a shower but Trent said, ‘There’s only one thing I’m asking for in this house and it’s a claw-foot bath!’ ” Leanne recalls. “So that bath got put in. We’ve had it for more than two years now and it’s been used five times!”
The Perrin & Rowe ‘Victorian’ handbasin and pedestal – from the English Tapware Company – are a style match for the main attraction, while subway tiles continue the heritage vibe, as does a vintage timber ladder. A heated towel rail – the Hydrotherm ‘B Series’ from Just Bathroomware – is a luxurious contemporary addition.