In Sydney – a city where property prices rate among the highest in the world – it’s so refreshing to see a home with a distinct personality, completely bucking ‘style for sale’ trends.
In this renovation project by Lymesmith and Amber Road, they have successfully updated a two-storey, architect-designed, ‘60s home in Cronulla to offer a better entertaining experience and some seriously character-filled interiors. ‘It was a delightful job because the client was so open and willing to try things out,’ says Sonia van de Haar, creative director of Lymesmith. ‘Nothing was seen as too precious or too serious, and nobody cared about ‘resale values’. The driving concept was to make a house that reflected the client’s commitment to living life their own way and enjoying it NOW!’
One of the most distinct elements of the renovation is the black crazy paving flooring that works to blur the boundary between interior and exterior spaces. The idea for this flooring originally came from Yasmine Ghoniem of Amber Road, but the client, Harry Kapoulas, soon jumped on board. Harry ordered a truckload of stone and worked with a tiler to break this up and lay it. ‘It was a real DIY job and everyone loves that aspect,’ Sonia says.
The second key element of the interiors is the wonderful use of colour, made up of contrasting quiet and bold schemes. The quiet colours (warm shades of white, mushroom pinks and black) are the base neutral shades holding everything together to create harmony, while the brighter and deeper colours draw attention to the living areas and hero decor items. ‘This second colour set plays a more active role, especially in the downstairs kitchen and living area. Mustard terracotta and [navy] blue are dynamic elements that vibrate and delight the eye, says Sonia. ‘We were consciously having fun with the wackier side of mid-century design.’
That would be enough for most homes, but not Polychrome! Lymesmith were then commissioned to make two wall paintings for the house, developed from aerial photographs of the house location and drawing from the interior colour palette. ‘Moving through the house really is a pleasure,’ says Sonia. ‘One experiences colours in new relationships to each other, in relation to the garden, and in a myriad of unexpected ways.’
One of the reasons this home is so daring is because of the timeframe it was completed in. A serious illness in the client’s family meant this project was halted for almost three years. When returning to the home, both the designer and the owners had developed a new perspective of the space. ‘It was a great opportunity to look at the previous work with fresh eyes, which actually led to a bolder end result, which truly reflects the owner’s commitment to joyful living,’ says Sonia. ‘People that have come face to face their own mortality are more willing to live in the now and express their individuality. So, our clients didn’t need inspiring, they inspired us, and they trusted us to bring our passion and talents to the project.’
Beneath all the colour and fun of this home, Lymesmith and Amber Road have executed a practical strategy perfectly suited to the client’s desire to entertain family and friends, and enjoy Cronulla’s relaxed beachside lifestyle. The kitchen and dining was relocated downstairs to better connect with the garden, and a formerly oversized and dark garage was integrated into the interiors to form an additional guest room and study.
If for some reason the owners of this home change their mind and seek a more neutral space in future, Sonia says this would be easy to revert back. In the meantime, this house proudly reflects and celebrates the individuality of its owners.