Australian Homes

Debra Cronin

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 6th April 2011

The Woollahra home of interior decorator Debra Cronin

Incredible eclectic details in the front room

Dining room – this room also hosts Debra’s brilliant Bite Club dinners!

Debra Cronin is one clever cookie.  After years working overseas, she found herself back in Sydney, uninspired by her previous career path and ready for a change.  She had a vision.  She wanted to find a huge derelict Victorian house, do it up in her unique decorative style, and treat the space as a home as well as a business.  She planned to use the home as a showcase for her eclectic decorating skills, and to rent it out for photo shoots and events.  It all sounds a bit far-fetched really, especially as Debra wasn’t in the market to BUY this house.  She needed to find one to rent.

But you know what?  She did it!  She found this house through sheer determination.  She trailed her favourite neighbourhoods looking for a crumbling Victorian mansion.  She found one, but it wasn’t available.  She asked around, and found out that many of the run-down homes in this particular area were investment properties owned by a medical foundation.  She tracked down the company, and somehow convinced them to let her rent this home, giving her free reign to renovate it however she chose!  She negotiated a generously long lease – and the rest is history.

Debra then set about the renovation process – it was HUGE.  The floors (in lounge and hall) and the ceilings (in lounge & office) need replacing, the whole house was re-wired, a new kitchen and bathroom were put in.  A new front door was needed, and windows for upstairs which was previously simply boarded up.  Debra trawled auction houses for obscure, oversized antique furniture for each room in the house.  She invested all her savings and more!  Her friends thought she was crazy, her builders thought she was crazy… but Debra had a vision and she stuck to it!  Within four month Debra had realised her dream –  the home was returned to its former glory.  Two years on, she is happily living in this incredible home and earning a living from it too!  It is an AMAZING story of determination and calculated creative madness!

Somewhere along the line, during the renovation process, Debra also hatched a brilliant plan to showcase her incredible new home in a very unique way.  She joined forces with a friend who just happened to be a brilliant chef, and together this creative pair launched Bite Club – a unique underground dining experience.  Bite Club runs hugely popular singles dinners and also private events and parties.  Another INSPIRED idea from Debra Cronin!  What will she think of next!?

Debra’s deepest passion, though, is interior decorating.  Her company, Debra Cronin Design, is run from this building too. She loves a challenge, no matter how big or small, and nothing pleases her more than the thrill of hunting out that perfect piece of furniture or paint hue or cornice detail.  ‘I go to just about every Auction or market I can find’ she says!  Debra truly lives, breathes, sleeps her passion – and it shows!

When asked for her favourite aspect of the home… Debra can’t decide.  ‘I love the size, madness and location of the house, but most of all how it has become such a sociable little hub of all sorts going on’ she says!  It really is incredible that in creating this home, Debra has also found many ways to share her unique space with others – guests, clients, and Bite Club patrons!  What an incredible achievement.  I am seriously impressed.  Hat’s off to Debra!

If you love Debra’s home you should most certainly visit her website!

Dining room details

Industrial kitchen

Upstairs hallway detail

Debra Cronin Design HQ!

Master bedroom

Bathroom details


Sunroom details

Sunroom with view to the garden

Garden details – lots of herbs for Bite Club dinners!

Entrance hallway

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 6th April 2011


  • April 6 years ago

    We see so many places with white or bright colors or the modern aesthetic and that’s all well and good but I love seeing places like this that look curated as well as lived in. Beautiful!!!

  • Kate Rogan 6 years ago

    What a great home.
    The first few photos remind me of these Bergdorf Goodman windows displays:

  • Paula 6 years ago

    Dream house!!!

  • Beautiful home – I couldn’t live with that interior, but there’s something about it that draws me in.

  • Margo Carlon 6 years ago

    What a wonderful complement to the guest blog David Bromley. I have seen your work in recent magazines Debra, happily tearing your pages from the magazine as future reference and inspiration for design, colour palletes and more. What a wonderful achievement with your new residence, have an idea, a vision , set your mind to it and watch it appear.
    Cheers Margo

  • daisy 6 years ago

    i love the specimens museum in the front room, what a great room! and the garden looks divine too. fascinating and well thought out style that really creates a certain mood. it reminds me of a tasteful haunted mansion (thats a compliment)! it’s a refreshing change from the cliche vintage-modern look with the over used tram rolls on walls and mid century replica furniture!

  • Sarah 6 years ago

    I love Deb’s house – it has her stamp all over it – beautifully stylish, eclectic and understated rustic chic! It’s soul envelopes you the minute you walk in!

  • jess 6 years ago

    wow. amazing.

  • JAN 6 years ago

    what an inspriational story – it just shows if you ‘hold your dream’ anything can be achieved

  • Jess 6 years ago

    It is always great to read of dreams turned successful reality – thanks for sharing, and what a beautiful house it is.

  • Marjorie Rose 6 years ago

    There is a madness and genius to this place.. I understood things a bit more after reading your article on her pursuits and strengths. Bravo! Very inspiring..

  • Lydia B 6 years ago

    I love how far removed this home is from the others we often see here – not that I don’t appreciate those!

  • Gaz 6 years ago

    This home has soul! What an amazing interior and garden. I love that she left the old patina on the wall (or created it?!) Truly inspiring. I’m about to renovate an old house and will definitely refer to these photos again, keeping in mind not to destroy the character of the home in the process.

  • Tracy 6 years ago

    Not just a great home but a wonderful story.

  • gaby@stilelemente 6 years ago

    I remember reading this story in one of the housey mags I subscribe to (was it Vogue Living?) anyway, I was so inspired by her story – what cleverness and determination… and style!

  • meg 6 years ago

    How inspiring – I just love her determination and passion!

  • emma 6 years ago

    Yes! I love love love these rental love stories. Bravo Debra. You don’t have to put a ring on it to make an amazing home. Very inspired to think maybe just maybe long term rentals could be totally normal in Australia in years to come…..

  • Meghan 6 years ago

    Such original creative ideas. I love the raw, dark and industrial mix of decor in this place. I can imagine some pretty cool themed dinners in there!

  • Scarlet Jones 6 years ago

    What a beautiful home, it looks like it came straight from World of Interiors!

  • Catherine 6 years ago

    wow so so amazing and beautiful

  • Meaghan 6 years ago

    Beautiful house – i just wish it was brighter. I’d love to visit though! Such lovely pieces!

  • ALICE IN DESIGNLAND 6 years ago

    Fab pics! I’d like to see more of the master bedroom!

  • Raimundo 6 years ago

    Beautiful house!! The Photos look great! I love the wine wall!

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