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There are times in a family’s life when a house has to perform in particular ways. With very young children, it’s all about generous living spaces where they can play and feel connected to their parents. It’s a different story for teenagers, who have a burning need for private spaces and spots to socialise with friends. It was exactly this stage Roger and Julie-Anne were facing when they designed their new house on a gently sloping waterfront block in Sydney’s lower North Shore. With three boys and a girl all heading into their teen years, the couple needed a home that would satisfy their love of modern design, maximise light on the south-west facing block and grow with their children.
This home, designed by architect Lara Calder, ticks all these boxes, offering dramatic, light-filled spaces that showcase idyllic views. The open-kitchen and living areas are thoughtfully planned to function efficiently for a big family, and there are separate spaces for everyone. “The kitchen is great, we love the terrace and outdoor space and the children each have their own rooms,” says Julie-Anne. Roger and Julie-Anne bought the block and its original 1950s house seven years ago, intending to knock it down and rebuild. “The location was fantastic, but the house was really dark and dingy,” she says.
They lived in it for several years before finding Lara and drawing up plans for the new house. The brief was for a modern space that captured the views and light and would suit the needs of their children as they move into their teens. “We also wanted a connection to the garden and the pool, which we just refurbished,” Julie-Anne says.
The home’s unassuming street front gives no clue to the dramatic design inside. Stepping in off the street, leafy views are visible through a double-height wall of glass. Five bedrooms and a study exist on this upper level, while a spectacular cantilevered staircase acts as a light well to the home and creative showpiece, with a tiled water feature below, and collection of pendant lights suspended above.
Downstairs is a smaller living area for the children and the main open-plan living, kitchen and dining areas, which all open out to the terrace and lawn through sliding glass doors. The kitchen is built for serious entertaining, with an island bench large enough to sit the whole family and masses of cupboards and storage space to hide every scrap of family clutter. Large expanses of glass and stainless steel are warmed up with extra-wide blackbutt floorboards, natural stone floor tiles and sandstone blocks on the landscaping. The palette inside is mostly white, livened up with vibrant spikes of brightness from the couple’s collection of artwork and displays of key accessories.
Julie-Anne also project-managed the build, visiting the site every day. The couple has devoted hours and much careful thought to getting this home just right for their family and their hard work has paid off. “We’re just so happy with it now,” Julie-Anne says.
Photo by Craig Wall Oct 12, 2012