From a once dark and unwelcoming interior space to a series of striking light-filled rooms, Justine Hugh-Jones and Katrina Mackintosh of Hugh-Jones Mackintosh design practice transformed this space into a home teeming with distinct personal style and sophisticated design.
This is the second home Hugh-Jones Mackintosh has worked on for the owners of the Courtyard House, so the project began with a trusting relationship. “Many of the [art] pieces were serendipitous finds,” tells Hugh-Jones Mackintosh. “But it really helps when the client can make that leap of faith to accept the designers vision.” The clients did more than accept the expert eye of the design studio, they welcomed it and entrusted them with curating their existing art collection as well as purchasing new pieces for the enlivened space. The works now lining the walls of the Courtyard House are assured and meet the careful balance between being able to stand their own in the space while complementing their surroundings.
Hugh-Jones Mackintosh tells me that their clients were keen collectors of the Australian figurative expressionist David Larwill, so were adamant about exhibiting the piece in the courtyard sunroom. Other works were left to the direction of Hugh-Jones Mackintosh, such as the Lottie Consalvo hanging in the living room. “During the Sydney Contemporary art fair in 2018,” they tell me, “Justine spied a Lottie Consalvo artwork that she thought would be perfect for the living room.” The work was exhibited at the stand of Dominik Mersch Gallery, which represents the artist in Sydney. “The clients were in London but within the time it took to make the call and send the photo she got approval to buy it! This rapport and trust really allows designers to make those fast decisions to secure art and curate a nice and varied art collection.” Fairs such as Sydney Contemporary are a go-to art destination for Hugh-Jones Mackintosh, who say they always buy what they love so will always find a home for the pieces. Purchases through Amber Creswell Bell and Saint Cloche Gallery in Sydney were also made for the Courtyard House, as well as a Hugh-Jones Mackintosh favourite Martin Browne Contemporary in Sydney, where they acquired the whimsical pieces hanging in the kitchen by artist Joanna Braithwaite.
From the artwork styles to the furniture, lighting and finishes, the space is wonderfully and coherently eclectic. “No structural changes were made,” tells Hugh-Jones Mackintosh. “But the introduction of bold colour against a neutral palette, distinctive artwork and a mix of contemporary and vintage furniture, not only met the brief but successfully played to the strength of the spaces.”
The clean lines of the parquetry floor, crisp white skirting boards and deep olive green walls help define the space formally, while grainy timber blinds, shaggy carpet and vibrant green tiling in the courtyard relax the space and subdue the distinction between indoor and outdoor. All the while the impressive art collection dictates a visual story integral to the clients and their home.
“Our big tip is to encourage your clients to invest in art as an integral part of the furniture budget and not as an afterthought,” the designers say. “The different styles and scale of the art collection are really interesting and the layering of ceramics, sculpture and glass make the home unique and interesting but intensely personal for the owners. They always say that it feels uniquely like their home, which is a great testament to good interior design.”