The spaces within this 1885 sandstone house on Sydney’s Lower North Shore remain as generous and beautifully laid out as the day they were built. The owners loved its grand proportions and scale, but the overly formal interiors called for a more relaxed, comfortable, and playful energy, reflective of their age and lifestyle.
‘Spatially, everything was there, but we managed to reconfigure and update all of the spaces and just give it a big facelift,’ says Sarah-Jane Pyke, co-founding director of Arent&Pyke. ‘We were really updating it to give it that life and energy for the stage of life that they’re in … They really wanted a house where they could open the doors and host really big lunches in the garden and have that everyday comfort for their family.’
Arent&Pyke’s design balances the sweet spot between classic and contemporary, injecting the home with whimsy, interesting shapes, and a soft colour palette.
Throughout the design process, they were inspired by the original detailing of the structure and personality of the clients. These elements are balanced in the playful application of classic materials, such as custom fluted travertine around the main bath, and Venetian plaster that imparts a subtle glow. In the main bathroom, calacatta viola marble adorns the bench top, which was cut down to make matching floor tiles and mirror frames.
Arent&Pyke also improved the liveability of the home through the clever addition of new rooms within the existing footprint, including a powder room under the stairs.
Outside, a new custom stone table (lifted onto the site by 10 men) is intended to age with the home for decades to come. ‘We decided that it should be something which stayed there all the time in this beautiful monolithic material that could just live outside and be part of the garden,’ says Sarah-Jane.
The updated hierarchy of spaces within the home is immediately evident on entry, speaking to its use as a modern family home. ‘The tone and the feeling of the house has completely changed,’ explains Sarah-Jane.
The success of the project lies in the way colour moves through the house, the flow of cohesive materials, and the improved interaction between rooms. ‘There’s a rhythm to how you use the spaces, and that has been a significant change,’ says Sarah-Jane. ‘The way you feel when you experience the space has completely transformed.’