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How Jess Dempsey Turned This Run-Down Edwardian Abode Into A Luxe Family Home

Interiors

Jess Dempsey knew her dream house when she saw it, but it took a lot of work to get it to ‘forever home’ status! The fashion stylist and influencer lived in this Edwardian-era residence in Armadale for eight years while she worked through two iterations of renovation plans, determined to get everything just right for her young family.

Finally, with the help of interior architect and designer, Cassandra Walker, and bathroom and kitchen fixtures from Reece, this sophisticated and elegant home was restored to its former glory. Contemporary grandeur at its finest!

26th April, 2021

Jess in her favourite room in the house, the spacious kitchen! Complete with a Franke Impact Granite IMG160 1 2/3 Undermount Sink and Scala Pullout Sink Mixer Tap in brushed gunmetal from Reece. Large green glass vase by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Appliances from Harvey Norman. Ceramics from In Good Company. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

‘I wanted a large, heavy and thick kitchen bench. I wanted it to have a presence,’ says Jess. Large glass vase by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Tiles and stone from Signorino. Ceramics from In Good Company. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Franke Impact Granite IMG160 1 2/3 Undermount Sink and Scala Pullout Sink Mixer Tap in brushed gunmetal simultaneously blend into and lift the monochrome material palette. Large glass vase by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

An open plan kitchen, dining and living area was an essential feature of the new renovation. The original extension had no flow! Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

A monochrome material palette allows the shift between old and new zones to happen seamlessly. Floors from Made by Storey. Curtains from Lynch Window Fashions. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Previous owners installed the luxurious 8 metre pool, which Jess and her family were very happy to keep. They installed large windows to make the most of the waterfront view from all angles of the extension. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The view from the living room out onto the garden – expertly maintained by Alchemy Landscaping. Small glass bowl by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Material details in the living room. The house was built by Clancy Constructions. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

A collection of ceramics and artworks on display in the lounge room. Small glass bowl by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Painting by Katie Wyatt. Lamp from In Good Company. Sculptures by Beatrix Rowe. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

‘We had just spent a lot of money on renovating the home, the idea of furnishing an entire home didn’t sit well with us, plus we have three young children, we had to be clever with what we bought,’ says Jess. ‘So we kept rooms empty for many months. I was always on the hunt for furniture pieces until I found ‘the one’ and ‘the price’. I truly believe that if I had rushed in at the start and just spent money on something just so my house would be furnished, the home wouldn’t have the same feeling.’ Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Now, every piece I have is thoughtful and something I truly am happy to own.’ Small glass bowl by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The elegant powder room is fitted with Reece products. The mirror really opens up the tiny space and prevents it from becoming poky. Issy Glide Custom Vanity, Issy Z1 Mirror, Sussex Scala Bath/Shower Mixer in Brushed Gunmetal and Scala Curved Wall Outlet in Brushed Gunmetal. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The view down the hallway from the front door recreates a grand Edwardian ambience. Such great height! Runner carpet from Loom. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The front rooms are a dedicated adult wing, containing the main bedroom, ensuite, study and guest bedroom in its original Edwardian rooms. Large glass vase by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Blue ‘Branch’ vase by Dinosaur Designs. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The main bedroom with a striking painting by David Bromley. Bed linen by Abode Living. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The arch shape was a structural motif throughout the house, repeated here in the main bedroom mirror! Large glass vase by Brian Tunks from David Jones. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Jess is a fashion stylist, so of course she has an epic walk-in robe! Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Jess’s shoe collection combines work with play. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The plush and moody study has a different character from the rest of the house. This is a distinctly adult space! Colourful resin pieces on bookshelves by Dinosaur Designs. Painting by Rebecca Rose. Desk + chairs from Camerich. Lamp and accessories from In Good Company. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

The study occupies a discrete room at the front of the house, making it distinctly more cosy and intimate. Desk + chairs from Camerich. Lamp and accessories from In Good Company. Photo – Eve Wilson. Interior design + styling – Cassandra Walker. Photo styling – Annie Portelli.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 26th April 2021

When Jess Dempsey and her family first purchased this home nearly a decade ago, an unsympathetic earlier renovation had all but eliminated the original Edwardian ambience. Jess was determined to restore the house to its intended grandeur, with a design that would see the family well into the future.

‘The original part of the home had so many stunning period features: arches over the fireplace and hallways, lead-light windows, high ceilings, ornate cornices, wide skirting and decorative plaster charm,’ Jess describes. 

But not everything was admirably old. The laundry was mouldy and unusable, and the closed-plan layout was not kid-friendly or conducive to natural light. Together with interior architect and designer Cassandra Walker, Jess planned to remove the pre-existing renovation – which was completely unsympathetic to the original architecture – and opt instead for an open plan scheme for the rear of the house, combining kitchen, dining and living zones in one large space. 

This re-organised layout, plus a second floor, freed up the front rooms of the house to be re-conceived as the adult’s wing. The main bedroom and corresponding ensuite, guest bedroom and study occupy the intact heritage rooms, while a second storey contains three smaller bedrooms and a rumpus room. 

Archways were a key structural motif, acting as gestures to the home’s Edwardian heritage. ‘We were able to keep a few original arches, such as the hallway arch and its ornate detailing, and a lovely little holy water font,’ says Jess. ‘We also had ceiling roses and detail restored in the study that was previously falling off or cracked.’ To ensure these subtle, structural notes would carry character into the new home, Jess and Cassandra decided upon a clean, monochrome palette that would carry through uninterrupted from the period rooms at the front to the new rooms upstairs, and at the rear.

Solid features anchor the kitchen in the otherwise light and bright space. ‘I personally wanted a large, heavy and thick kitchen bench, I wanted it to have a presence,’ says Jess of her sleek stone island bench. This is complemented by a fitted Franke white granite sink and a Sussex Scala pull-out kitchen tap with a pin lever mixer, both from Reece. In the downstairs room, all the Scala tapware is a brushed gunmetal while upstairs they are chrome (‘This ensured our budget could be allocated appropriately,’ says Jess). 

All these metallic elements work to lift the minimalist palette consisting of grey floorboards, stone benches and steel-framed windows in the communal zones, while weightier pieces such as the cast solid surface Kado Lussi bath and twin Milli Pure shower heads in brushed gunmetal add impact to the main ensuite. 

‘I love the feeling of my home, the warmth, the love and the way the old meets the new in such a harmonious way,’ says Jess. An ambitious brief, tackled with poise and sophistication! 

Jess Dempsey brought her light-filled sophisticated family home to life with Reece – Australia’s home of bathroom and kitchen inspiration, innovation and design. Reece’s expert team helps customers across the country make their dream bathrooms a reality. Discover more here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net