To cross the threshold of this refreshed 1920s-era home is to understand keen art collectors live within. Dwell a little longer and it becomes abundantly clear that the owners, Jeanne and her husband Robert, are also well-versed in hosting guests and providing for their daughters, Saskia, eight, and Allegra, five. The thoughtfully updated brick abode in Sydney’s upper north shore embodies the family’s welcoming, inviting spirit.
Who lives here? Jeanne, freelance editor and writer, and Robert, director of his company, Actevate, with their two daughters, Saskia, eight, and Allegra, five.
Where do you shop for your home? Jeanne: “Rob and I love scouring markets and auction houses and browsing antique stores.”
Any decorating dilemmas? “Rob is trying to get me to agree to wallpaper in our bedroom, but I prefer to inject colour with artworks.”
Who is your favourite artist? “I’ve finally got my paws on a Clara Adolphs. I also love Queensland artist Dylan Jones.”
“We are very social and always have people over,” says Jeanne, a freelance writer and editor who has lived here since 2019 with Robert, a company director, and their two girls. They resided in Sydney’s inner-city before moving to this leafy suburban enclave. “It was quite a pragmatic move, actually,” Jeanne explains. “One of our daughters is profoundly autistic and she needed to go to a special needs school in this area as suggested by the Royal North Shore Hospital.”
As luck would have it, the family were able to settle into a property that Jeanne’s Indonesian-based parents invested in 30 years ago.
“The house has beautiful bones, but it needed a lot of love, as it had been rented out for all of those years,” says Jeanne, who grew up in Jakarta. The original charm is evident, with each generously proportioned room defined by heritage leadlight windows, ornate skirting and delicate plasterwork.
Fresh paint and modern light fittings have revived the former glory of the bedrooms and formal living and dining spaces. The couple’s evolving curation of art and books add moments of colour and movement. “Robert and I are both magpies, and we love collecting. He is more of a maximalist, and I am a minimalist, but somehow, together, we make it work,” she says.
The most transformative updates have occurred in the kitchen and two bathrooms. Floor plan revisions and the addition of elegant yet durable materials in a neutral palette provide a calm backdrop for family life. “Everything was dark in the old kitchen, and we really wanted to take advantage of the wonderful natural light,” says Jeanne.
“We basically live in the kitchen now!” Sparkling white surfaces replaced the drab finishes, and the new open layout includes a central island that welcomes gatherings and culinary experimentation. The son of Southern Italian restaurateurs hailing from a long line of providores, Robert can be counted on to craft heavenly meals for all occasions. “Rob is an amazing cook who is happy to bang out a pasta or pizza to a very obliging and appreciative crowd,” Jeanne says.
The airy kitchen flows out to a patio overlooking the pool, the girls’ separate playroom, and a young vegetable garden. “It’s lovely to see this house evolve and change to accommodate the needs of our family,” she shares. “We feel very privileged to be the custodians of this home for the next generation.”
“I like things with patina, as does Rob, and I love breathing new life into old pieces,” says Jeanne. Above an antique sideboard in the formal dining room is a wall of artworks (below) by, clockwise from top left, Dani McKenzie (two artworks), Dale Rhodes, Pablo Tapia, Dylan Jones, Kristen Lethem and Julz Beresford.
The elegantly subdued colour palette continues into the main bathroom designed by the homeowners in collaboration with Sydney Circle Property Services and Just Bathroomware. Classic touches include brass tapware by Brodware, white subway wall tiles and Nero Marquina floor tiles, both from Tile Factory Outlet.
WE LOVE… creative reuse
Reduce your spending, and the waste, during renovations by salvaging surfaces. In this home, the original kitchen was gutted, but the cabinet doors were reinvented with coats of Dulux Lexicon Quarter and incorporated into the layout. “We chose brass drawer pulls and knobs from Mother of Pearl in Waterloo,” says Jeanne.
Interior design: Dégabriele Kitchens and Interiors, (02) 9958 5668, degabrielekitchens.com.au.
Builder: Sydney Circle Property Services, sydneycircle.com.au.