Nine years ago, art consultant Fiona Bateman and her husband Henry were living in a two-bedroom cottage with their three children (and another to come!). Seeking something larger in the same Lower North Shore area, they called a local real estate agent, who happened to know an older couple thinking of selling their home nearby.
‘The house never officially went on the market, but this lovely couple let us go and have a look,’ says Fiona. ‘They had lived there for 50 years, had six children, and there was this feeling of it being such a warm family home with a loving history that was very appealing. I also think they liked the idea of selling the house to a growing family.’
The house was designed in 1893 by English-born architect Walter Liberty Vernon, who designed many Federation Queen Anne style homes in the area upon immigrating to Australia. Walter also designed many of Sydney’s government buildings, including the present building of the Art Gallery of NSW.
Fiona and Henry worked with Sam Crawford Architects to renovate the home, sympathetically modernising the kitchen, bathrooms, and the laundry. ‘I guess it was quite substantial, but I feel we never lost the feeling of the original house. It definitely doesn’t feel too slick and new,’ says Fiona.
Living spaces are now light-filled and eclectic, blending warm timbers with industrial steel-framed windows and walls painted in Dulux White Duck. This shade is applied in various strengths across the home (from 10% to full strength), alongside Porter’s Paints Himalayan Salt in the front two rooms.
The charming ‘cottage’ feel of this home has been retained through the inclusion and enhancement of many period details – open fireplaces, clawfoot bathtubs, and an AGA cooker in the kitchen! Added to this, Fiona’s layered, eclectic approach to furnishing and styling her home lends it a unique sense of character and warmth – from the Marthe Armitage wallpaper, to custom printed curtains, a Maker&Son sofa… and don’t even get us started on the swoonworthy art collection (she is an art consultant, after all!).
All in all, this grand old Sydney home has been given a new lease on life in the hands of the Bateman family. With its relaxed, yet refined sensibility, its colourful details and distinctly warm, cosy feel, this home is comfortable, stylish and full of character. Fiona says and her family will forever appreciate coming home to their garden of established trees, the light that streams in their back windows, and their location close to the city and harbour. The dream!