Sophistication combines with easy elegance in the charming home of former Australian cricketer and current cricket commentator Glenn McGrath, his wife Sara, and their children, James, 21, Holly, 20, and Madison, now six.
Shades of cerulean and royal blue create a tranquil first impression at Glenn McGrath and Sara Leonardi-McGrath’s home, echoing the peaceful waters nearby that lap gently at the rear edge of their property in Sydney’s south. The sea casts its spell, drawing visitors like a magnet to its outdoor terrace, but along the way, there’s a feast of curated riches to seduce the eye inside too. “Our home is definitely a reflection of my travels and background, but also the things Glenn and I have collected through the years,” says Sara, an art dealer turned tie-dye fashion entrepreneur. “I love a home that tells you a story about the people that live in it.”
At the end of April 2022, the couple sold this sprawling waterfront home for $8,250,000. Glenn originally purchased the five-bedroom, four-bathroom property back in 2006 for $5,250,000.
It was Glenn who bought the five-bedroom house on a 3500sqm block 13 years ago. “Being a country boy, I always like space,” says Glenn, who was raised on a sheep and wheat farm near Dubbo in western NSW. (The co-founder and president of the McGrath Foundation is working towards attaining his helicopter pilot’s licence so that he can return more often to the bush, where his parents still live.) This house, he says, “appealed because it was on a large block, on the water, peaceful. That’s why I fell in love with the place.”
He fell in love with Sara, who was then studying interior design, after they met in Cape Town in 2009, and they exchanged vows on the terrace at home – doing their best to ignore the drone of news helicopters – in November 2010. When Sara fell pregnant with Madison, they launched a major renovation that involved gutting most of the interiors.
“It’s a beautiful home, because it’s all on one level, and it’s very airy and breezy – we definitely wanted to keep that – but the idea was to have the spaces flow,” says Sara, who worked with the late Bobby Singh from BKH Interiors on the design.
The scene-stealing marble island in the kitchen is anchored by a Moroccan rug from Beni Kesh which adds a dash of warmth to the luxe space featuring Crafty Kabinets’ handiwork. “Everything is Carrara – the stonework has been so immaculately done that all the grains match,” says Sara of the marble, all cut from one slab and used throughout the home, from Benchmark Stonemasons.
Updates included a stunning kitchen showcasing a colossal Carrara marble island, four bathrooms (worthy of a five-star hotel) – including a new ensuite for James – and a built-in desk for Holly’s room.
In the living room antique treasures, including her grandmother’s circa 1920s armchairs, coexist harmoniously with contemporary pieces in this generously sized space, where a custom lounge by Ambience Upholstery invites relaxation. Sara says Maddy “spills crumbs” on the c.1700s rug that once graced Sicily’s Museci Palazzo, whose ochre tones are repeated in the furnishings and piece by Chinese artist Liu Bolin. “The angels are carbon sketches used to make cathedral angels,” says Sara, who was born in Miami and raised in Sicily, where her family were patrons of the arts. The charcoal sketch is by Sicilian artist Paola Vasta Bella and the artwork, centre, is by Salvatore Fiume.
“Art needs to speak to you. That’s when a purchase should be made”
Decorating was a slow burn, as it always should be, Sara believes. “It’s years of collecting that makes a home,” she says. “A lot of people want an ‘instant home’ to have character, but character is your life and where you’ve lived and places you’ve travelled.” As much as Glenn loves jetting around the world with his wife, and has indeed “lugged a few things on planes”, chuckles Sara, it’s walking in his front door – and straight for the water – that he cherishes. “I love nothing more than coming home,” he says, smiling. “I’ll make myself a cuppa, go outside and just take it all in. It’s the simple things that I think we should treasure the most.”