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.