Co-director of design practice Duet Dominique Brammah calls this home a ‘trick’ due to its relatively compact floor plan, that manages to look and feel generous. ‘It’s a carefully arranged jigsaw puzzle and jewellery box of treasures,’ she says.
One year ago, this was not the case. The existing 1930s home in Austinmer, Wollongong was richly decorated by its owner, but the floor plan was severely lacking. Its main crime – no beach views.
‘There was a supreme desire to do EVERYTHING possible to capture the view,’ says Dominique. ‘The original house was incredibly beautiful but it wasn’t overly compatible with the contemporary way of living in open spaces, not in rooms.’
To achieve this, Duet along with draftsperson Nadine K Design reconfigured the original floor plan, while adding a contemporary extension to the ground floor rear and a new second storey. A large verandah wrapping around the long side of the building takes in the beach beyond.
‘It wasn’t a huge new ostentatious renovation; it was considered, sensitive and respectful, but importantly, it wasn’t shy,’ says Dominique. ‘It’s got guts and heart and it has made the original house shine even brighter.’
The updated interior palette takes cues from the owner’s existing decor and love of Sri Lanka, including the luxury hotel Amangalla in Galle where she previously worked. For example, the sage green architraves, skirtings and doors were inspired by the hotel, creating a sense of depth and interest to the timber work which might, more conventionally, be painted white.
Many of the furniture items were also collected from Sri Lanka. ‘It was far from a blank slate, which made for the most wonderfully rich collaborative and rewarding design conversation,’ says Dominique. ‘The renovation had to provide a strong backdrop for the beauty of her things to shine in a new space, but do so far from the “white box default mode.”’
The designers and the owner became lifelong friends over the course of this project, which is reflected in the highly personalised result. As Dominique says, ‘It is so HER house.’