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A Waterfront Home In Sydney That Defines 'Approachable Luxury'

Homes

Interior designer Linda Habak and her husband Jason were already long-time locals of Sydney’s Lower North Shore when they set out to find a renovation project in the area. After a two year search, they came across this 1881 sandstone cottage on a block with water views, and immediately saw the potential to transform it into a generous villa.

With the help of Campbell Architecture, Linda, Jason and their three daughters have created an exceptional family home that exudes understated luxury!

27th May, 2020

Large artwork by Camillo De Luca. Artwork on left ‘Coming for You’ by Christiane Spangsberg. Small artwork on right by Antonia Mrljak. Empire Lounge by Jardan. Side tables by Zuster. TV unit by Bo Concept. Rug by Hare + Klein for Designer Rugs. Armchair is the Nelson Coconut Lounge Chair. Stools are the Form Barstool by Normann Copenhagen. Chair in left foreground is the Curule chair by Pierre Paulin from Ligne Roset. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Skygarden pendant by Marcel Wander for Flos set in original ceiling rose. Poliform Concorde Carrara marble dining table. Poliform Grace dining chairs. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The interior designer and owner, Linda Habek! Artwork by Camillo De Luca. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Skygarden pendant by Marcel Wander for Flos set in original ceiling rose. Poliform Concorde Carrara marble dining table. Poliform Grace dining chairs. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kitchen island is American oak veneer with a custom stain. Bench top is made from Carrara marble in a honed finish. Floors are Tongue n Groove herringbone engineered boards in Sienna. Ceiling painted in Dulux Manorburn quarter strength. Stools are the Form Barstool by Normann Copenhagen. Artwork is ‘Coming for You’ by Christiane Spangsberg. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The restored, original double hung windows. Butlers sink by Villeroy & Boch. Bench tops are Quantum Quartz in Ultra White. Shaker cabinet profile painted in Dulux Manorburn double strength. Vase by Mud Australia. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kitchen cabinets in shaker profile painted Dulux Manorburn quarter strength. Solid brass cabinet handles imported from the USA. Brodware Neu England tapware in Platino Matt finish. Ilve white upright oven. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Claude sofa by Arthur G in teal velvet. Black marble coffee table with brass base. Cushions from ABC Carpet and Home. Artwork is a commissioned piece by Linda’s close friend, Zeina Saadie. The Rug Collection rug.  Antique Louis XVI settee covered in Kelly Wearstler Graffito Fabric. Antique Miller light pendant. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Curule chairs by Pierre Paulin from Ligne Roset. Potocco Spring Chair in the background. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Views across Lane Cove river from the home. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A fire pit area at the bottom of the property overlooking overgrown bougainvillea. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Jardan Arana armchair and ottoman. Gubi Grasshopper floor lamp. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Freestanding  bath from Stonebaths Australia. Brodware Neu England tapware. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Large artwork by Kate Banazi. Wire sculpture by Kenya from Basic Curate. Small framed hand sketch by Zeina Saadie. Handmade bench by Modanest. Armadillo & Co rug. Throw from Papaya. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Tribu Mood Sofa from Cosh Living. Custom cushions. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Himalayan sandstone pavers around the pool. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘The grapevine is a gift from my father and was planted the day before we moved back into our home post the renovation. I often pick the leaves and make rice stuffed vine leaves,’ says Linda. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Spectacular water views! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 27th May 2020

‘I feel like I was called to be the custodian of this property.’ – Linda Habak

The sandstone home of Linda Habak and her husband Jason had a long history before the couple took ownership eight years ago. Originally built in 1881, the house, named ‘Rosebriar’, was moved from its original site at 20 Church Street, Hunters Hill in the 1970s. ‘The cottage was dismantled and faithfully re-erected in 1970 by David Abotomy, a renowned restorer of historic buildings. He saved the cottage from being destroyed and relocated and restored the house for his mother on land he owned,’ says Linda. 

Linda and Jason had been living in a neighbouring suburb for 10 years when they came across this property, which Linda immediately felt drawn to. ‘It sounds very woo woo, but I feel like this house found me,’ she says. ‘I feel like I was called to preserve and enhance the beauty of the original cottage. I feel like I was called to be the custodian of this property.’

The first two years of living here saw the couple and three young daughters Nevaeh, Kaia, and Sabina squeezed into the existing home’s two bedrooms, while they went through the design phase and awaited council approvals. Their aim was to transform the existing cottage into a generous villa, designed alongside Hugh Campbell from Campbell Architecture, in a manner that celebrated its origins. ‘The original brief to our architect Hugh was that we wanted to preserve the way the cottage felt, and didn’t want to lose its essence post the expansion and addition,’ says Linda.

Renovating this property was a huge undertaking, with the family living in the property throughout the 18 month construction process. ‘The access was very difficult, and we had site constraints with a 15 metre drop from top to bottom of the property,’ explains Linda. ‘We chose the right architect after a first failed attempt. Hugh really understood the brief and worked through all the difficult site constraints and a notoriously difficult council.’ 

The original cottage is now used entirely as a living space, with a discreet contemporary addition added below. This new element expands the home’s accommodation, creating an expansive terrace in the treetops for entertaining & appreciating the river views.

An interior palette of natural materials and muted colours sets a calm and sophisticated mood, and was developed by Linda, who is an interior designer, ‘It feels like a treehouse with such a beautiful aspect and views over Lane Cove River. North-west sun floods through the whole house and into every room,’ she says. The main paint shade used throughout is the New Zealand Dulux colour Manorburn, which is applied in various strengths throughout the home. The ceilings are quarter strength, the walls are half strength, kitchen joinery is double strength, and the formal lounge is painted with 400 per cent strength.

When people arrive at this home, they are naturally struck by the water views, but the interiors are equally impressive. ‘Everyone says that it feels so refined and beautiful with the interesting art, objects, rugs and furniture, but it’s also very welcoming and comfortable,’ says Linda. ‘I like to call it ‘approachable luxury!’ 

The now completed home is a robust yet relaxing haven for the family and their now teenage daughters, which continues the architectural legacy of the original property and surrounding area. 

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