Chloe Brookman and Charlie Wheeler never saw their South Coogee home before committing to purchase, yet they knew it was in the perfect location, and perfectly primed for a major renovation.
‘I had been looking for a property from where we were living in Byron Bay at the time. After a couple of trips to Sydney with our youngest being a newborn, we started to do virtual walkthroughs,’ explains Chloe, CEO of Olli Ella. Chloe and her sister co-founded the popular homewares, apparel, and children’s toys label in 2010, and over the past twelve years have turned the brand into an extraordinarily successful business, with four international offices.
‘We really adored this house but didn’t get the opportunity to see it in person because another party’s buyers’ agent pushed for a quick sale, so we were forced to put in an offer, which was successful!’ Chloe explains, adding – ‘Sydney real estate is no joke!’
The 1910 single-storey house was located on an especially large block by Sydney standards, with potential to extend, and enough space for chickens and vegetable gardens.
Chloe learned from their neighbour (lovely 94-year-old neighbour Norma who’s lived next door since the ‘50s!) that the property had undergone several ‘unfortunate’ renovations over the years, but luckily some original features had been preserved.
The plan was to extend the home upwards and outwards to suit Chloe, Charlie, and their five children, while retaining as much of the original facade as possible.
A major renovation ensued, designed in collaboration with architect Sofia Husni. ‘We kept all external walls, we extended a bit out the back to add an outdoor alfresco area, fireplace, and roof garden. We put in new floors, added lots of windows, and had a lot of fun,’ says Chloe.
The home now spans three levels with the main living areas on the ground floor; the bedrooms and office on the first; and top floor with a kids rumpus and media rooms. Reclaimed bricks were used to construct a new extension at the rear of the home, which is lined with 50-year-old Serbian roof tiles in the kitchen.
The interiors showcase a myriad of influences, from the symmetry of Wes Anderson film sets, to memories of trips to Italy and Morocco, and nearby art deco properties with green and dusty pink facades.
Dulux paint was used to recreate these palettes, with Dulux Casper White Quarter on the exterior, most internal walls and ceilings; Dulux Feather Soft on the main bedroom wainscoting; Dulux Herb Planter on doors and trims; and ‘the most incredible green’ Dulux Moorland throughout the original rooms.
A highlight of the home is the sculptural, winding staircase designed by Chloe. ‘We are always up and down the stairs and I wanted something to feel a little Escher-esque!’ she says.
Developing the garden was an equally important component of the renovation, based on Chloe’s childhood growing up in England, and delighting at how country gardens spill into their residences. The family have created a ‘mini food forest’ on the property, where chickens, dogs, cats and children roam free!
Chloe says the completed home perfectly reflects her family’s style, yet somehow, it feels like it’s been standing as is for 100 years. ‘It’s very much us,’ she says. ‘It’s all over the place, fun, and classic!’