There’s no romantic story as to how ceramicist Laura Butler of Mennt, and her partner Aman Braich discovered their Darlinghurst terrace back in 2016. It was simply a small house, in a central location, and in their price range.
‘It was damp, awkward to move around, and had no shortage of DIY patchwork jobs everywhere you’d look,’ says Laura.
Purchasing and renovating the home called for sacrifices (both now and into the future), but it was worth it to live in such a coveted Darlinghurst location. ‘Other than being able to live with a bit of space, it doesn’t feel like we’re giving up anything’ says Laura. ‘Most of our neighbours have been living here for over 20 years. Being able to add to that history is something special.’
It took Laura and Aman four years of ‘hard saving and living in a forever-leaking house’ before they could engage architects Trias to design a major renovation. The pink terrace facade and basic structure would remain, but everything else needed to go. ‘Renovation is a light word to use for the approach to our build… The entire house was gutted,’ says Laura.
Downstairs, Trias reoriented the staircase, moved the kitchen, removed a bathroom, and added an accessible courtyard with a Japanese maple—an outdoor space serving both aesthetic and practical functions.
‘In its simplest form, it’s a beautiful green space that helps establish scale; ages with the home; and the leaves of the Japanese maple remind you of the changes in season,’ says Laura. ‘As a functional space, it improves airflow throughout the home.’
Upstairs, the second bedroom (a cramped study with a loft bed above) was removed entirely in favour of an open bathroom. ‘We understood that this house with its one bedroom might not suit us forever, but it was not worth cramming an additional bedroom in at the expense of every other aspect of the home… The whole design was focused around Dieter Rams’ principle of “less but better.”
This new bathroom embraces the rear of the home, featuring a new rooftop garden—designed with Kirsty Kendall of Studio Rewild—providing a slice of nature among the dense urban rooftops.
Dulux Lexicon Quarter forms a uniform matte base to the interior, complemented by built-in timber furniture and handmade tiles on the kitchen floor and courtyard walls that Laura worked tirelessly to create. ‘This was a suggestion by our incredible architects and was a huge undertaking that saw me camping in my studio for six weeks because we were in a lockdown in Sydney, so travelling each day was restricted!’ she says.
The sacrifices have all been worth it. Working with Trias and Zandt Building, Laura and Aman have created a minimalist and restful retreat in a busy part of inner-city Sydney, that thoughtfully reflects the values of its inhabitants, whilst also capturing the serene ethos of Mennt, Laura’s popular ceramics brand.