Interior designer Tamsin Johnson, her husband Patrick, and two children were living Tamarama during the pandemic when they decided to leave their beachy suburb in favour of a new project.
The daughter of an antiques dealer and an avid collector herself, Tamsin always had a soft spot for historic design. So when the Johnsons came across a charming, but rundown, property in Darling Point, they knew it had potential to become their dream home. The property was originally built by a British army colonel, with several rooms remodelled in the 1970s.
‘Our house is a real treasure,’ Tamsin says. ‘It was substantially characterful in its original architectural conception, so the vision was to not rebuild or re-characterise it, but instead to intensify its existing charm.’
‘I wanted a mature home with lived-in warmth and richness, with a lot of detail in the floors and finishes.’
The resulting Palazzo House is an ‘exercise in enrichment and rehabilitation.’ Some rooms were left untouched with their original walls and floors, while most others were re-floored, repainted and resurfaced. Tamsin ensured the home’s timber details were kept intact and original leadlight windows were painstakingly restored, piece by piece!
‘The biggest change to the substrate of the building was the undercroft,’ Tamsin says. She expanded this level into a rumpus, sauna room, bathroom and a smaller sitting room looking over the pool and bay. ‘To the exterior, I added some sympathetic iron works and railings, and reestablished the stonemasonry where it was needed.’
The new kitchen is particularly striking, featuring a sculptural island bench carved from Bianco Gioia stone. ‘I love the harmonies in all the masonry and the plaster walls,’ Tamsin adds. The interiors were also designed to be the perfect backdrop for the couple’s collection of antique and eclectic furniture.
‘The result I think is something very homely,’ Tamsin notes. ‘It is real, detailed, deeply textured and nuanced, and very much a reflection of who we are as a family.’