This mid-century home was originally designed by architect Glynn Nicholls (son of Eric Nicholls – Walter Burley Griffin’s Australian business partner) in 1959. The property faces secluded bushland on Sydney’s Middle Cove, providing magical water views of Sugarloaf Bay, framed by parted gum trees.
The house was purchased by a tech guru two years ago, who wanted to maintain its architectural identity, but expand the footprint to sleep up to 14 extended family members at a time. Naturally, given the owner’s profession, the renovation also needed to integrate the latest technology!
8 Squared were tasked with designing two new wings for the home in a style sympathetic to the original structure, while the job of interior designer Suzanne Gorman, creative director of Studio Gorman, was to make the spaces feel cosy and inviting. ‘Our role as interior designers was to manage materiality throughout both the interior and exterior of the home, to craft the cohesive look between new and original’ Suzanne says.
Much of the interior inspiration derived from the home’s restored modernist features, including its butterfly roof, exposed structural steel beams, shiplap panelling on the façade, bagged brick interior walls, timber windows and doors, and fine steel wire balustrade on the upper deck.
The California native client’s relaxed personality and beloved yellow combi van (nicknamed ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ after the 2006 movie featuring a similar van) was a further point of reference for Suzanne. ‘Little Miss Sunshine was parked behind a fixed-glass viewing panel adjacent to newly relocated central stair, allowing glimpses of her sunshine form while passing through the home,’ she says. The van’s yellow colour is referenced in various rooms, alongside a sparing use of primary blue and red reminiscent of the famous Rose Seidler House. These splashes of colour, such as in the sunny children’s bathroom and the various bathrooms, instil a playful energy in the home, contrasted with limed and natural oiled American oaks and lashes of white.
Textured, natural stone materials were also integrated into the interiors, in tonal colours referencing the local landscape. ‘Needless to say, the bushland setting was also enormously inspirational in our design response for the outdoor areas and in the master suite, which virtually hangs in the surrounding bush of Sugarloaf Bay,’ Suzanne says.
Among the impressive tech features of the updated home is a cave-like cellar hidden behind a bookshelf, which can only be accessed by moving a particular book! Suzanne describes this space as a ‘moody escape’, created in contrast to the fresh white palette throughout the main home – ‘incorporating the client’s love of tech, and, surprise, red wine!’
The combined efforts of Studio Gorman and 8 Squared have created a home that remains faithful to its 1950s origins, but with the space and tech capabilities to serve generations to come!