houses, Seaside

Sea worthy: a sophisticated family home in Sydney

Nick Watt
While the curvilinear white exterior of this home in Sydney's eastern suburbs evokes an ocean liner, the rooms within could be spacious cabins, cosseting and finely appointed, beckoning you in for the journey. While many designers seamlessly merge indoors and out in a prime harbourside home — here the sound of lapping water is a constant companion — Hare + Klein steered a different route. The flowing structure by Bruce Stafford Architects provides a seaworthy backdrop for an interior fit-out that references the harbour but also offers respite from it. While the family home embraces the water on two sides through sheer walls of glass, the interiors mitigate the brilliant light and introduce a warmth and homeliness. 'Bemuse lots of light reflects off the water, it could have been glary,' says interior designer Eloise Fotheringham of Hare + Klein. 'But these warm, dark colours calm the space.' When the owners, a professional couple with three children, bought the property in 2013, a chunky, 1970s house monopolised the site, but they wanted a lighter, more organic touch. 'Our 35m frontage provided a unique opportunity to develop a house based around an ocean liner where everyone gets the waterfront,' says the owner. Hence they asked Bruce to remodel the home — he kept just the shell and introduced more fluid lines. Their brief to practice principal Meryl Hare and Eloise? 'The overriding aim was to feel like we were constantly on holiday,' says the owner. 'We wanted to create a unique, contemporary family home maximising the outdoor space and views.' Adds Meryl, 'It had to be a family home and not starchy. These spaces evolved from the geometry, as well as the bright external light.' The three-level house boasts four bedrooms on the top floor, living areas including formal living, TV room (both of which can be closed off with sliding doors), dining and kitchen in the middle, and an office, sauna, gym, cellar and rumpus room on the lower level abutting the pool, which in turn leads down to a boatshed on the water's edge, and a jetty. The three levels are connected by a ribbon staircase that is the spine of the house. On the road side are deep, slit-like windows to ensure privacy, while the harbour side has expansive glass that welcomes in the light and harbour views. 'The facade is open to the water,' says Eloise. 'It's light and whimsical on the outside with the punctuation of a darker interior. We created depth and contrast with a layered palette of timber and stone.' In charcoals and chocolates with urbane black counterpoints, texture adds to the sophisticated story. Double-height dark-stained timber blades complement a patinaed-brass front door and extend onto the balcony. 'The blade wall is a directional element that leads the eye out to the harbour,' says Eloise. Its textural, vertical element is complemented by the chocolate stitched-leather sliding doors that divide the living spaces and stitched-leather stair rails. 'There's a lot of detail,' says Meryl. Visual links throughout provide an organic flow. The TV room is a cozy, intimate space, its ceiling a continuation of the honey-hued timber bulkhead in the formal dining, while its svelte, powdercoated black metal shelving echoes the crisp profile of those in the kitchen. The omnipresent curves prompted clever solutions. In the irregularly shaped formal living area, a curved bulkhead echoes the sweep of the building. And themodular sofa is angled rather than being at a conventional right angle 'to make it more spacious', says Eloise. 'The geometry also informed the way we furnished it,' says Meryl. The first item specified was the 3.5m-long elliptical dining table, which takes style cues from the spiral stair and the oval coffer in the dining area. Meryl had long been looking for somewhere to place such a table having first seen is 10 years ago. 'It's a sophisticated interior, but it also feels cocooning,' Meryl explains. 'It's refined and beautifully detailed, but not showy,' adds Eloise. 'With the dark, muted palette and all that texture, it encourages you to sit down and put your feet up.' Story via