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'Cottagecore' Meets Modern Eclecticism In This Charming Renovated Heritage Home

Homes

The family home of Fiona Bateman is located just a few kilometres from Sydney’s CBD, yet it feels like an escape to the country. 

The art consultant bought the 1893 Federation Queen Anne home on the Lower North Shore nine years ago with her husband Henry and four children (Freya, 15; Edward, 12; George, 10; and Rupert, 6).

Originally designed by architect Walter Liberty Vernon (the architect of prolific projects including the Art Gallery of NSW buildings from 1897 to 1909), a renovation by Sam Crawford Architects has instilled a modern eclectic feel to the living spaces, whilst retaining the home’s cottage-like charm!

20th April, 2022

Fiona Bateman inside her tranquil family home. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Cane sofa and chairs from second-hand furniture shop, Revival. Cushions by Lee Matthews, Sally Campbell, and Hale Mercantile and Co. Wooden side tables and stools from Scout House. Red Tolix Stool 45cm Tabouretred by Tolix. Terracotta carafe as vase by Marta Bonilla. Rug from Perrymans Carpets. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Red Tolix Sidechair Chaise A by Tolix. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Kitchen painted Dulux White Duck at 10% strength. Cupboards painted Dulux White Duck Half. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Kitchen painted Dulux White Duck at 10% strength. Cupboards painted Dulux White Duck Half. Christie Pendant by Original BTC from Dunlin. Painting by Nicholas Osmond. Vase by Hana Vasak. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Paintings by Vanessa Stockard. Ginger flowers from Matt Bisaro. Vessels by Hana Vasak.  Bentwood chairs from Thonet. Table from Original Finish. Rug from Perrymans Carpets. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Fiona has her own art consulting business, helping individuals and businesses buy art for homes as well as commercial spaces. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Walls painted Porter’s Paints Himalayan Salt. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Neutral wall colours help Fiona’s pieces shine. Wall painted Porter’s Paints Himalayan Salt. P Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Naturally, Fiona’s home is filled with work from Australian artists. Clockwise from top left: Tom Polo, Kate Tucker, Josephine Andrews, Clara Adolphs, Brett Whitely, Gabrielle Collins, Robert Malherbe, Leslie Wilkinson, Emily Ferretti, Robert Malherbe, Laura Jones, Leslie Wilkinson. Centre artwork by Bronte Leighton-Dore. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Birds by Lucy Hennessy. Print by Jan Billycan. Wallpaper by Marthe Armitage. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Petal print by Rachel Castle. Linen by Bed Threads. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Roses from Matt Bisaro. Paintings by Jennifer Tyers. Round bedside table from Temperature design. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Wall lights by Dunlin. Watercolour paintings by Jennifer Tyers. J’ai Soif Carafe & Glass Pink by Maison Balzac. All blinds and curtains by Simple Studio. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

The home’s exterior is just as charming! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Perfume by bespoke Australian perfume maker, Archer Farrah. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files. Styling – Tess Thyregod

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 20th April 2022

‘There was this feeling of it being such a warm family home with a loving history that was very appealing.’ 

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!

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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