Both clients and designers learn from their experiences. While designers get the chance to reflect on what went well and not so well after each project, a client typically gets this opportunity just once in their life. However, for a couple in Sydney’s Annandale, a previous experience renovating their terrace prompted them to take a different approach when the time came again to rework their home.
When the clients first bought their nineteenth-century terrace house in the inner-west of Sydney, they engaged an architect to renovate and extend the existing structure. While the architect delivered what the client had asked for, the couple felt that the new house still wasn’t what they were after. Reflecting on the process, they saw that there was a lack of communication between themselves and the architect. Twelve years later, the clients felt like having another go at achieving a place that really embodied the way they wanted to live. Fortunately the couple had made the acquaintance of a director of a prominent Sydney architectural practice who gladly took on the project. Paul Brace, who at the time was director of interiors at Jackson Teece, was assigned as project designer.
The first priority for Paul was to make sense of the circulation within the house. Where once there had been two staircases connecting the lower floor to the upper floor, Paul consolidated the vertical circulations into one central drum. Located at the front of the house, the drum incorporates a realigned staircase, store and powder room. Clad in limed timber verticals, the drum’s generous curve provides a smooth flow into the living spaces to the rear. The extant masonry terrace house acts as a grounding device to the project, with its solid walls, oak flooring and vertically proportioned windows. In dialogue with the curved hub is a large round table by Daniel Barbera. Its dark timber top and bronze legs work with the subdued hues found in the rest of this section of the house.
The rear of the house has been conceived as two pavilion structures, one housing the main internal living space and the other providing shelter for the exterior dining area. Both are defined by black steel framing and have an emphasis on low horizontality, reminiscent of a mid-century modern Palm Springs home. The timber verticals from the drum reappear in the kitchen joinery, as do the oversized door pulls. The two work well together as a compositional element. The charcoal grey kitchen island has been designed as a “big table” that sits over a central solid unit. This effectively breaks up the bulkiness so often found in islands. It also allows the island to straddle the material change that takes place between the oak floors of the living area and the terrazzo used in the kitchen. The entertainment unit is finished in a glossy, metallic-grey car paint. This forms part of a suite of joinery that Paul designed for the house, all of which has the same automotive glisten.
The solid oak stairs lead up to the sleeping quarters. The theme of light tones for the floor is repeated, this time with a plush wool carpet. The metallic glints of the car-paint joinery are picked up by the grey-green silk curtains. The main suite opens out above the pavilion roofs, and privacy is provided by a solid balustrade and raised planter bed. This allows for a large outlook to the sky from the bed, with complete privacy from adjoining properties.
The clients say that in contrast to the last incarnation of the house, they now use every single room in the “new house,” and they are happy with the clean lines of Jackson Teece’s reworking. Paul says that the success of the project was in part due to the “open process” between the clients and his team. The clients were glad to have Paul advise on all aspects of the project, from furniture selection to procurement of artworks, and they comment that in the twelve years since the first renovation of the house, there has been “huge architectural progress” in terms of the quality of residential design in Australia. This improvement has come not just from the design end of the process, but also from the general public – and in particular clients – who have become better informed about good design. Paul notes this as “a rapid growth in architectural awareness.” Whether this has come as a result of media exposure or through first-hand experience, this can only be a good thing for residential design.
Products and materials
- Lysaght Longline 305 in Colorbond ‘Monument’; Vergola operable ceiling in Colorbond ‘White’.
- External walls
- Alucobond anodized metal panels in ‘Satin Black’; existing walls in Dulux ‘Snowy Mountain’ and ‘Black Caviar’.
- Internal walls
- Victorian ash panels in Resene Woodsman ‘Riverstone’; plasterboard in Dulux ‘Natural White’.
- Windows and doors
- Architectural Window Systems black anodized sliding doors; Dorma bespoke pivot doors in Victorian ash in Resene Woodmans ‘Riverstone’.
- French oak floorboards from Porter’s Paint; Cavalier Bremworth Galet carpet in ‘Chert’; Robyn Cosgrove rugs.
- Flos Easy Cap downlight and W ä stberg Lindvall copper pendant, both from Euroluce; Ladies and Gentleman Studio Aura copper pendant; Duell modular wall lighting from JSB Lighting; Lumascape LED copper external wall light.
- Smeg oven and induction cooktop; Fisher and Paykel integrated fridge; Qasair rangehood; Caesarstone benchtop in ‘White’ and island bench in ‘Raven’; joinery in Dulux Poly ‘Natural White’; Clark Evolution sink; Brodware tapware.
- Fibonacci Stone Terrazzo tiles in ‘Nougat’; Skheme Mosaic white satin wall tiles; Caesarstone vanity top; Rogerseller basin and Complete Zero toilet; Brodware tapware; Parisi Twinset Column basin; joinery in Victorian ash in Resene Woodsman ‘Riverstone’ and Dulux Poly ‘Natural White’.
- Curtains by Simple Studio; custom dining table from Barbera Design; B&B Italia Ray sofa from Space; Moroso armchairs from Hub Furniture; dining chairs from Cult.
- Jackson Teece
Walsh Bay, Sydney
- Project Team
- Paul Brace, Alena Smith, Stephen Rofail
- Site Details
Site type Suburban
Site area 382 m2
Building area 241 m2
- Project Details
Design, documentation 6 months
Construction 8 months
Type Alts and adds, New houses