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A Sophisticated Mid-Century Home In The Trees

Homes

There’s a relaxed, Californian feel to the family home of James and Liana Shaw-Taylor – a tribute to the home’s mid-century architecture, and leafy surrounds in Wahroonga, on Sydney’s Upper-North Shore.

Working with interior designers Tom Mark Henry, the couple have maintained the original modernist spirit of the home, but in a contemporary manner inspired by nature and their own eclectic tastes.

The end result is equal parts playful and sophisticated, representing a modern take on the mid-century genre!

1st September, 2021

Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Tiling from Tile Scheme. Walnut handle custom-made by The Arc Department. Photo – Sam Riles for Gritty Pretty.

Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Lighting from Cult Design. Table from Freedom. Vintage chairs. Photo – Sam Riles for Gritty Pretty.

Homeowner Liana Shaw-Taylor. Lighting from Cult Design. Table from Freedom. Vintage chairs. Tiling from Tile Scheme. Photo – Sam Riles for Gritty Pretty.

Lighting from Cult Design. Table from Freedom. Vintage chairs. Tiling from Tile Scheme. Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Joinery painted in Dulux Deep Mooring. Splashback painted Dulux Spiced Nutmeg. Walls painted Dulux Fair Bianca. Concrete slab bench by Slabs by Design. Photo – Sam Riles for Gritty Pretty.

Lighting from Cult Design. Table from Freedom. Vintage chairs. Tiling from Tile Scheme. Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Joinery painted in Dulux Deep Mooring. Splashback painted Dulux Spiced Nutmeg. Walls painted Dulux Fair Bianca. Concrete slab bench by Slabs by Design. ‘Valley’ sofa by Jardan. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Lighting from Cult Design. Table from Freedom. Vintage chairs. Tiling from Tile Scheme. Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Joinery painted in Dulux Deep Mooring. Splashback painted Dulux Spiced Nutmeg. Walls painted Dulux Fair Bianca. Left photo – Damian Bennett. Right photo – Sam Riles for Gritty Pretty.

‘Valley’ sofa by Jardan. Armadillo rug. Lamp and coffee tables by HAY. Vintage armchair. Vintage side-table with leftover kitchen tile on top. Cushions from Country Road and Sheet Society. Ms. Curtain curtains. Ottoman from Freedom. Walls painted Dulux Fair Bianca.Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Lounge room detail. Armadillo rug. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Rattan detailing is present in cabinetry throughout the house. Bedhead joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Spark and Bell lights. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

This sunny doorframe is painted in Dulux Copper. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Muted shades of white, neutral brown, and sage offset the terracotta tiles and timber bedhead. Bedhead joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Spark and Bell lights. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Joinery by All Smart Kitchens. Lighting from Euroluce. Concrete Nation sink. HAY trays. Benchtop by Surface Gallery. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Tiling by TileScheme with tiles from Artedomus. Lighting from Euroluce. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Tiling by TileScheme with tiles from Artedomus. Lighting from Euroluce. Plant and pot from Domus Botanica. Photo – Damian Bennett for Tom Mark Henry.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 1st September 2021

‘I walked in and fell in love with the elevated view from the lounge. The trees! The quiet!’ – Liana Shaw-Taylor

Liana Shaw-Taylor, senior designer at Tone Studio, and James Shaw-Taylor, creative director for digital signage company Mandoe, spent years living in Sydney’s inner-eastern suburbs, but always knew they’d move north to Wahroonga to raise a family. 

After missing out on a nearby property at auction, Liana came across another house probably out of their price range, that she decided to inspect anyway.

‘I walked in and fell in love with the elevated view from the lounge. The trees! The quiet! We offered the owners an amount before the auction and they accepted! Couldn’t believe it,’ she says.

Liana and James engaged interior designers Tom Mark Henry to contemporise the space, without detracting from the home’s original mid-century sensibilities. Special attention was paid to maintaining original features such as the timber panelled ceilings and fabulous metal support beams throughout, and repurposing materials wherever possible. For instance, bricks salvaged on site were painstakingly cleaned by the family, to re-use for a modest new extension which now accommodates a new main bedroom and en suite. 

The updated interiors are the product of interior designers Tom Mark Henry, who splashed their design flair onto the plans and updated the shapes, surfaces and colour scheme. ‘I had a few too many wacky ideas and began to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. Their guidance and expertise was invaluable,’ says Liana.

This new colour palette ranges from deep greens to terracotta, golden amber, and aqua blue, (Dulux Copper, Deep Mooring, and Frontier Fort among them), without overpowering the space. 

Curves in the home’s doorways, kitchen island, cabinetry handles, mirrors and bathroom joinery have also been introduced, in a playful departure from the horizontal lines common to mid-century design.

Some of these design choices came with unexpected consequences (‘We had to reinforce the floor underneath to accommodate the weight of our beautiful Gather Co. tiles’ says Liana), but all have resulted in this thoroughly delightful home. 

When the couple’s children John and Penelope (currently 3 and 1) get a little older, Liana has plans to introduce even more changes – this time tackling renovations without being pregnant and having a toddler in tow!

‘While my kids are young I am enjoying the fact they can dance on the coffee table, accidentally (on purpose) scribble on the dining table, and drive their trucks on the walls. Get back to me in five years and I’ll show you the before and after of toddlerhood!’

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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