Home Tours

Modern Love

A stunning abode in Sydney’s inner west proves that high design can go hand in hand with family fun and functionality.
Brigid Arnott

Sometimes there comes a point, mid-renovation, when the thought ‘What on earth am I doing?’ crosses a renovator’s mind. For this Sydney-based owner and accomplished renovator, it was the day the crane arrived to transplant concrete slabs – soon to be the island bench – over the neighbour’s house and into her new kitchen. The concreter had poured the slabs off site and the result was a very tense day for both the builders and homeowner alike.


KITCHEN The kitchen centrepiece was always going to be the custom-made concrete island bench, however interior designer Roni recommended increasing its size by 50 per cent from the initial drawings. “That was just brilliant,” says Sarah. A must include was the breakfast bar, matched with stools from Insitu/Cafe Culture. “I love it when the four kids are lined up for breakfast,” says Sarah. Cabinetry finished in timber veneer, built by Tim Maybury at TSM Cabinets, provides a natural touch and keeps the focus on the main attractions. (Credit: Brigid Arnott)

It’s this attention to detail and level of hands-on precision that makes this home the stunning sanctuary it is. From the front of the unassuming heritage cottage tucked away in a street in Sydney’s inner west, it’s difficult to imagine the contemporary cool that lies within. It’s only when visitors bypass the original front door (preserved to maintain a heritage facade) and walk down the wide side passage, lit moodily by sensor lights, that they are greeted by a breathtaking modern build – all glass, clean lines, natural tones, concrete and sun-drenched voids warmed by unique touch-me textures. The homeowner, a fan of clean lines and contemporary style, embarked on the yearlong renovation to create a home that would take the children through teenagehood and beyond.

COURTYARD The luxe Zendo ‘Manutti’ modular lounge from Cosh Living is teamed with an orange chevron Fab Habitat rug. Behind the alfresco kitchen, a lovely sculptural piece from Singapore seemingly dissolves into a wall painted in Dulux Monument. (Credit: Brigid Arnott)

Confronted by the challenge of renovating the tired, turn-of-the century cottage that had the kitchen and living room upstairs and a deck that shook when you walked on it, the homeowner engaged architect Kerry McGrath, builders Michael and John Paul Homsey of JMH build and interior designer Ronite Hammond to help turn poky, cold and dark into majestic. First priority was to flip the whole layout to transform the upstairs into the sleeping quarters, with a bedroom for each child, a kids’ space, study, bathroom and master suite. This left the downstairs to house an action-packed combined living room and glamorous kitchen – thank you, stunning custom-made bench, statement lighting and stand-out gold tiles – to connect with a luxurious outdoor kitchen and lounge.

With the dramatic layout shift complete, the homeowner, who managed the build herself, was keen to bring the classic cottage into the now, seamlessly integrating the two. To that end, original floorboards were removed upstairs and replaced with darkened tallow, while a rich palette of earthy tones is at play throughout, with a heavy dose of texture. 

Contemporary designer pieces and streamlined joinery are key to this home’s success, but it’s the joy that it brings to her children that really swells this homeowner’s heart. She is thrilled with the “great feeling” she has when she comes home from work with her children using each and every space throughout.

LIVING ROOM Comfort comes first in this lounge zone, furnished with a plush custom-made sofa, a coffee table purchased when the family lived in Singapore, and a monochrome Calvin Klein rug (try Bayliss). “I always wanted a concrete floor, but we had to work hard to warm up the space,” says Sarah. “It was all about bringing in soft furnishings and texture, as I’m not big on colour.” Case in point is the sisal wallpaper that acts as an earthy backdrop for an ethanol fireplace {opposite, bottom left}, bought from the US, and a comfy chair from Singapore. The staircase is also a study in neutrals, with inky tallow boards providing a contrast to the Dulux White On White walls and a steel screen and balustrade. (Credit: Brigid Arnott)

Related stories