Home Tours

An 1800s sandstone cottage beautifully revived in heritage style

This home offers a masterclass in enduring style and elegance.
A living room with steel doors, landscape artworks and neutral furniture.Photography: Brigid Arnott

Downsizing from a large family house can be an opportunity to start afresh, particularly if the new abode presents as a blank canvas. This late-1800s sandstone cottage in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs was calling for a new aesthetic when it came on the market in 2021.

The front facade of an 1800s sandstone cottage.
This old home in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs held great appeal for its new custodians when they first set eyes on it. “We were definitely downsizing when we bought it and loved how close it is to everything,” says the homeowner. “It’s just a minute’s walk from the main street and is surrounded by pretty stone terraces and houses.” However, the interior had been stripped of charm in an earlier renovation, so its new owner drew on her background in furniture and homewares retail and engaged interior designer Cameron Kimber to reinstate its heritage heart. Now, the interior echoes the home’s storied facade. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

While brimming with history, it appeared somewhat clinical after a contemporary face lift had stripped the home of much of its personality. But to one of the new owners, who has a background in furniture and homewares retail, a beguiling makeover beckoned, just as it did for the interior designer she engaged, Cameron Kimber.

A heritage-style sitting room with a sandstone fireplace and antique furniture.
For the homeowner, her cherished antique armoire is the star of the front sitting room. Cushions and bergere armchairs in Hazelton House ‘Abbotsford’ fabric in Kingfisher from Ascraft join an ottoman in Antoine d’Albiousse ‘Touch Me’ cotton velvet. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

For both parties, it was a case of looking to the past while embracing the present. With their shared love of antiques, the pair knew exactly where to begin when it came to the home’s dramatic reimagining. “We both love the more traditional and classic styling,” says the homeowner.

Who lives here?

A couple who love antiques and recently downsized from a larger home.
What appeals to you about antiques? Homeowner: “The sense of history – the age and patina. I’m always on the lookout, and love looking through antique centres and shops. You can certainly mix antique pieces with contemporary ones, and comfort has to be a major factor, too.”
What was your biggest splurge? “The steel-framed doors. But they really open up the house to the outside.”
What’s your decorating style? “I love different textures and materials, as well as pops of colour. I’m definitely not afraid of a bit of colour.”
Which colours do you prefer? “It changes. In this house, it’s the very calming greens and blues, but in other homes it might be different colours.”

A study with vintage furniture and a Nepalese framed artwork.
The homeowner bought the framed artwork in the study while in Nepal. “It’s lovely to have that reminder of the trip,” she says. An existing desk was freshened up with a coat of paint in Dulux Domino. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

The original structure was largely unchanged and features a study, sitting room, casual living, dining and a galley-style kitchen on ground level, with bedrooms above. However, the major cosmetic makeover that unfolded over nine months unlocked the home’s true potential. “We installed beautiful oak parquet flooring that instantly gave the house a lovely warmth, added new steel-framed glass doors out to the rear courtyard, and completely redid the kitchen, as well as introducing new cabinetry, carpet and wallpaper throughout the house,” says the owner.

Living room

Then it was time to dress the spaces with statement pieces, many of which, of course, were antiques, as well as a curated collection of artworks and richly layered soft furnishings.

A living room with steel doors, landscape artworks and neutral furniture.
A pair of Bragg & Co lamps top La Bella Casa Interiors side tables and illuminate the gallery wall of art, which features Blushing Vista and Cypress by Jacqui Lynch, plus other works by unknown artists. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

“We asked Cameron to come back to us with his ideas – and we loved all of them,” says the homeowner. “I trusted him implicitly as I’d seen a lot of his work and just adored it. Cameron brought in a beautiful palette of colours and styles for the house in a very classic, almost English country style.”

Interior designer Cameron Kimber sitting on a sofa.
Interior designer Cameron Kimber in the redesigned, light-filled living room. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

“It is light, cosy and beautifully textured, but also very liveable,” says the homeowner of the living room. The sofa is upholstered in Pierre Frey ‘Croise Collobrières’ in Crème from Milgate, with a Samuel & Sons rope fringe. Opposite, the armchair is covered in George Spencer Designs fabric.

A white sofa and black weaved coffee table on a natural jute-style rug.
The tactile ‘Abaca’ rug in Irish Wheat is from International Floorcoverings. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)


With its Calacatta Mezza Machia marble benchtops and Shaker cabinetry in timeless Dulux Beige Royal, the kitchen is a serene spot. “I love the depth of the veining in the marble we selected, and also the glass display cabinets that really open up the kitchen,” says the homeowner.

A long classic style kitchen with marble benchtops.
Classic oak herringbone flooring from Hardwood Floors anchors the stylish domain. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)
A sink and marble benchtop below shaker cabinets.
A Zip Hydro Tap and Franke Atlas Neo Tap, both from Winnings, in the kitchen. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Dining area

Lit by a Visual Comfort & Co ‘Allen’ chandelier, the artwork by an unknown artist above the oak table adds drama to the dining space. And the dining chairs? “Cameron found them at Lydie du Bray Antiques and we had them reupholstered and restudded. They turned out like works of art – and they’re comfortable, too,” says the homeowner.

A dining room with a classic timber table, rounded light pendant and floral artwork.
The Visual Comfort & Co ‘Allen’ chandelier. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Contemporary aspects of the interior act as a backdrop for the couple’s antiques – both new finds and old treasures – which Cameron dotted throughout the home and balanced with more modern pieces. When it comes to selecting vintage furnishings, he offers this advice: “Choose antique pieces that aren’t too fussy, and that have all the best hallmarks of the era”. For a wide range of antiques, visit The Vault Sydney.

We love… a mix of eras
A vase of white flowers on the dining table in front of a dark floral artwork.
Art is centre stage in the dining room. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Main bedroom

According to the designer, the couple’s faith was pivotal to the project’s success. “The owner’s absolute trust in me led to this result – she understood the importance of choosing the right pieces. We needed to add colour and soften the style of the house,” he says.

A classic style main bedroom in pastel green with floral accents.
The L&M Home bedspread warms the Bemboka sheets. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

While Cameron selected a timeless collection of freestanding furniture, several of the couple’s existing pieces also received prominent status. “The antique oak armoire in the front sitting room was given to me by my parents many years ago, and I absolutely treasure it,” she says.

A pastel green main bedroom with a floral bedhead and vintage furniture.
Cameron used a bespoke Porter’s Paints hue on the bedside tables. (Photography: Brigid Arnott) (Credit: Photography: Brigid Arnott)

“Then there are the bedside lamps, which originally belonged to my grandmother and have so much sentimental value to me. I just love that connection and could never part with any of these pieces.”

A vintage bedroom chair beside a console and ceramic jars.
Farrow & Ball wallpaper. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Farrow & Ball wallpaper in the main bedroom, is evocative against the bedhead in Colefax and Fowler’s ‘Fuchsia’ fabric in Silver/Leaf.

A classic style main bedroom in pastel green with floral accents.
The antique lamps in the homeowner’s bedroom belonged to her grandmother. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Guest bedroom

A custom Porter’s Paints navy adorns the self-contained studio bedroom, while International Floorcoverings ‘Trellis Argento’ carpet ups the texture.

A navy guest bedroom with pops of white.
The International Floorcoverings ‘Trellis Argento’ carpet. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Powder room and bathroom

“I absolutely loved this wallpaper the first time Cameron showed it to me,” says the homeowner of ‘The Vase’ print by Clarence House. “I just had to have it! The powder room is the perfect room in the house to show personality.”

A quaint powder room with decorative blue vase wallpaper.
‘The Vase’ print wallpaper by Clarence House. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

In the bathroom, ginger jars and pots indulge one of the homeowner’s loves.

A modern bathroom with a square mirror, marble topped vanity and ginger jars.
“I adore chinoiserie designs,” the owner says. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)


Steel-framed doors from Steel Door give the living room leafy views of the travertine-paved courtyard. “This courtyard is a small space, but it’s sun-drenched and surrounded by greenery – the perfect spot for a morning coffee!”

A travertine courtyard with rattan chairs surrounded by greenery.
Outdoor table from Lydie du Bray Antiques; for similar chairs, try Xavier Furniture ‘Terrace’ chairs. (Photography: Brigid Arnott)

Interior designer: Cameron Kimber Design, cameronkimber.com.


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