Home Tours

A luminous harbourside home with classic charm

Curated pieces, pattern and welcome splashed of azure put an interiors stylist's stamp on this ready-made beauty on Sydney's North Shore.

Taking the odd risk or two comes easily to Sonja, the owner of this luminous home on Sydney’s lower North Shore. When the interiors stylist and homewares retailer and her husband David bought the home a decade ago, it wasn’t the usual bid-in-the-front-yard occasion. Instead, the couple, who a few years earlier blended their two families to create one of eight (including the pair’s three daughters and three sons, all aged between 14 and 20) bought the home by phone while travelling on a train between Paris and Brussels.

The gamble paid off beautifully.”I fell in love with the house the moment I saw it and it has worked out so well for everyone,” says Sonja, of the charming six-bedroom harbourside home.

It’s the details that turned this striking house on Sydney’s North Shore into a home for Sonja, her husband David and their six adult children who regularly visit.

Not surprisingly, when they bought it, top of their wish list was for space, space and more space, but this Hamptons-inspired home ticked even more boxes for Sonja, a lover of the ageless, classic East Coast aesthetic, celebrated not just here but also in her Mosman, Sydney store Home & Clan.

The dining room is classic but tips towards a contemporary look. “I am all about mixing things up,” says Sonja. A chic Flexform Mood ‘Checker’ table from Fanuli and iconic Knoll ‘Brno’ chairs available at Dedece are paired with a Timothy Oulton ‘Odeon’ chandelier from Coco Republic. The scene is framed by Tim Summerton’s Night River Blue from the Olsen Gallery and a stunning bronze sculpture.

With its deep verandahs, timber balustrades, sash windows and timber cladding on the upper level, high ceilings, large rooms and generous daylight inside, she was smitten. It was authentic Hamptons, classic and timeless, and, because it faces north, it gets beautiful light,” she says.

“Fortunately, the previous owners saved us the heartache of a major build,” says Sonja. Still, the stylist gave the kitchen a spruce up. ‘The Regency’ pendants from Home & Clan define the classic aesthetic, while the stools – upholstered in Robert Allen Road to Canton fabric – and Carrara marble benchtops are all stamped with Sonja’s personality, as are the blue-and-white ceramic ginger jar, large white vase, and white milk jar from Sonja’s store. Chic appliances include the Ilve stove, Miele wall oven and steamer and Liebherr fridge, all available at Winning Appliances.

It was also a perfect pitch for the couple’s Brady-Bunch style family. “Everyone needed their own space,” she says. “Big and wide, this had room for everyone.” Although the home had been renovated by the previous owners, the kitchen and bathrooms were dated and the cream walls with reddish brown floorboards were not Sonja’s cup of tea.

Kitchen stools are upholstered in Robert Allen Road to Canton fabric in Ocean.

The house needed to be fresh and crisp, light and airy,” says the interiors stylist, who remodelled the kitchen and bathrooms, and refreshed the living areas by painting the walls and staining the floorboards.

Little wonder Sonja and David’s family spends so much time in this space. “There’s no TV here, so we can communicate,” says Sonja. “Under the coffee table are board games, which come out when we come together.” A custom sofa and lounge chairs and Eichholtz ‘Harvey’ coffee tables are from Home & Clan as are the chic accessories on top of the coffee tables including the blue-and-white bowls, horse and brushes. Adding extra layers of luxury are the velvet green Caravane cushions from Montmartre Store and a cushion from Pottery Barn.

Switching the palette from autumnal to summery, she also combined her favourite blues with luxuriant foliage-hued greens, offset by white walls and dark floorboards – “in the darkest stain that’s not black,” she says.

An informal eating area has chairs with slip covers in the Signature fabric range and a walnut table, both from Home & Clan.

“I can never get enough blue,” adds Sonja.”Everywhere we can see water and gumtrees, so I wanted to create a seamless flow of colour.” To that same end, she removed the curtains, leaving the living room windows with unobstructed harbour and bushland views.

Guests get a sense of this as soon as they step into the entrance. “This wallpaper makes a statement and sets the scene for what lies beyond,” says Sonja. The Colefax and Fowler wallpaper is the perfect backdrop for a Ralph Lauren ‘Foo Dog’ table lamp, Eichholtz ‘Windolf’ sconce and Hamptons mirror, all from Sonja’s store Home & Clan. “With so much choice, I have to rein myself in,” she says. On the base of the Coco Republic console sits an Elephant Duke sculpture by artist Donald Greig. “The French antique jardiniere was a second-hand find,” says Sonja.

Not surprisingly, the decorating reflects a true Hamptons style. “I love its beautiful timbers, its many textures, all the Ralph Lauren and its functional, timeless pieces,”says Sonja.”

“The Australian casual way of life and colour palette – it makes it so easy to design and style to that,” said Sonja.

But I’ve avoided white painted furniture, which, I think, is more coastal than Hamptons.” Sonja also added splashes of surprise, by introducing, for example, a contemporary dining table and cantilevered dining chairs as crisp counterpoints.

Sonja’s treasures on display include a ceramic horse from Bed Bath N’ Table.

Texture also features strongly.”I love to have fun with layering,” says Sonja, who sourced many of her furnishings and accessories from her store.”I won’t have cushions in the same fabric, combining velvets with linens and cottons, for example.”

The ensuite features a gorgeous pair of ‘McKenzie’ mirrors from Home & Clan.

And while the last of the couple’s six offspring moved out last April, “leaving us rattling around in the house a little,” confesses Sonja, there are no plans just yet to move on to a new set of rooms to freshen up and decorate.

“It was important that it felt neither masculine or feminine,” says Sonja of the couple’s bedroom. The Thibaut grasscloth wallpaper was originally sky blue but has since faded to this colour, which Sonja says she loves just as much. Sonja’s favourite colour combination, blue and white, is celebrated in the ottoman, scatter cushions and the lampshade in Thibaut Bijou in Blue, all Home & Clan. The ice-blue bedhead, in fabric from Home & Clan’s Designer range subtly links the rich blues with the neutral bed skirt, in Home & Clan’s Signature Taupe fabric range

“Leaving here would feel like a relationship break-up,” says Sonja simply of the family home she loves as much today, as the day she moved in with her burgeoning brood.

The couple’s ensuite is a statement in luxury with classic marble and subway tiles from Tiles By Kate and a Victoria + Albert ‘Amiata’ bath from Cass Brothers, which provide the ideal soaking space. Also helping to make bath-time an occasion are the Brodware ‘City Plus’ floor-mounted bath spout and Brodware ‘Neu England’ wall mixer, both from Just Bathroomware. “Pieces have to be both functional and timeless so they still look good 30 years from now,” says Sonja. Botanical prints from Designer Boys help bring surrounding bushland into the room.

“Out of all the areas in the house, the kitchen area feels truly home to me.” ~ Sonja

The indoors and out meld into one in the decks surrounding this home. On the balcony adjoining the lounge, dining room and kitchen, rattan chairs from Home & Clan provide a serene sitting spot for family and friends. The tablecloth was collected on travels in Dubai and the platter is from Sonja’s store. While the couple’s children have left home, they still had an input on the aesthetic. “The girls are so good at colour,” says Sonja.

“There is plenty of natural light so using darker blues was an easy decision, as I knew it would still feel light and airy.” ~ Sonja

Related stories