Project Sheet: Back to Life

Megan Brown of Penman Brown Interiors talks us through the true magic of art in the redesign of her own home. Erin Irwin writes.

For her latest project, Megan Brown of Penman Brown Interiors took on a property particularly close to her heart. The snug beachside bungalow was her own home, a property that needed major updates to suit her bustling family of five.

The result? A serene urban oasis steps away from the waterfront, expertly expanded with the addition of a 5.5metre-high pavilion with views onto the jungle beyond.

Old and new are married through a seamless transition into the original heritage house. By using similar materials and textural motifs throughout the home, Megan accentuated period features, yet transformed what was once a dark and drab house into one full of light and life, and above all else, art.

“My undergraduate is a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UNSW, so contemporary art, artists and art making has always been my first love,” says Megan. “Art speaks to our core and has the potential to be the most vibrant and engaging conversation around culture and aesthetics. Its true magic is in the way it lifts our everyday experience in a very personal and intimate way.”

Megan’s art collection is truly personal, with each piece purchased at a certain time for a certain reason. One of the first major works she invested in was Steep sandy incline, a large work by Tim Summerton which now sits pride of place within the bungalow living room. She purchased this work to celebrate the success she had achieved in opening her own interior design studio, and thus it is only fitting the design of her own home highlights it. By tinting the white walls with cool undertones, she achieved a calming space that makes bold works, like that of Summerton, the main focal point of any room.

Another work she adores is The Fish by Robert Malherbe, which she gave to her husband as a gift for his 40th birthday. It sits above the long, clean lines of the fireplace, whose flames and the deep rust colour of the 637 Utrecht Armchair parallel perfectly with the bright splash of red in the painting. Malherbe’s arched, expressionist lines bring a sense of movement to the space, softening the contemporary linear design of the furniture and echoing the pavilion’s high angled mansard roof. Megan’s collection is not merely decorative, but rather the works act as focal points that bring rooms together, much like they represent focal points of her life.

Megan was particularly careful to limit the colour palette she used throughout her home, with strict monochrome finishes on all the architectural features. This served to add a sense of unity and light, but also to ensure that the crucial elements of the project that made the space truly hers were emphasised.

This intimate attention to detail continues throughout the house. Nunzio Miano’s Sicilian Socialite converses with the Zeus occasional table by Prospero Rasulo and Gidon Bing’s Marquette B2 brass sculpture in the hallway.

Gemma Avery’s Alteration History III peeks around the corner of the bathroom door, with the judicious positioning of a custom smoked oak mirror. Much like the skylights in the pavilion are expertly placed to frame the greenery surrounding the property, each work is lovingly arranged to harmonise with her interior design and bring colour and life into her home.

While intensely personal, Megan has wielded her design talents to transform what was once a gloomy and cramped space into a contemporary and stylish residence fit for her large family.

By restricting the colours and textures she used for her architectural elements, she ensures that both old and new are completely coherent and light flows throughout, while allowing her collection to imbue her home with warmth and soul.

Through design, Megan affirms the true magic of art in a domestic space.

Featured image: The colours in Robert Malherbe’s The Fish are balanced with a NeoWall lounge by Living Divani, and a red upholstered 637 Utrecht armchair.

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