Project Sheet: Honouring the Old


Isabella O’Callaghan’s Karangahake Gorge oil painting informed the colours of the guest bedroom.

HONOURING EXISTING DETAILS of this Queen Anne style home was at the heart of its inventive and holistic re-design. For the owners, a young family of five, utility was at the helm of their vision: amenities for the kids, privacy for the parents and flexible shared and ancillary spaces. The design language, which ensued in conversation between interior designer Fiona Lynch and collaborators Caroline Vernon Architects, was informed by this brief of practicality, yet took most of its inspiration from the existing scale and proportions of the house along with the clients’ diverse inventory of fine art.

Marigold detailing in the existing stained glass windows and the striking leadlight hues of the home’s bay windows drove a rich colour palette for the interiors. “Ornate details are extrapolated to give presence and reverence to the cherished character of the old home, while the new addition is intentionally over-scaled and unassuming” says Fiona. Tonal shifts in textured carpets and floating floor-to-ceiling drapery mirror the painterly qualities found in the owners’ art collection, including an Isabella O’Callaghan painting in the guest bedroom. A favourite of the collection, this artwork was used as a centrepiece for the room, informing the deep gunmetal grey of the walls which gives luminance to the painting, its muddy tones enhancing the moodiness of the bedroom.

The design of the extension, made to accommodate the kitchen, dining and living spaces, sought to redefine the proportions of the house and create a carteblanc space which would adapt as the family grew. Fiona tells us, “The kitchen’s weighty island bench is offset by a fine, floating benchtop beyond; a play on scale and mass.

The home is intentionally understated in form and materiality, which provides the opportunity for the art to speak for itself. The Huysein Sami sculpture on the kitchen bench is an unassuming addition that brings organic line into the geometry of the space. Fiona also updated her clients’ art collection by curating a selection of contemporary pieces specifically for the space, sourced from favourite galleries such as Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney. Fiona explains: “The low joinery unit in the living area provides a welcoming plinth to display larger artworks and objects, while smaller pieces are given opportunities to shine by strategic placement and the selection of complementary finishes and furniture.” The scale of the artworks were vital to the design of this house as Fiona thoughtfully considered how a piece might proportionally or playfully over or under-scale the spaces around it. With such a diverse collection of works at hand, the design for this house is a beautiful example of how the individual personality and wit of an art collection can inform simple and timeless design decisions.

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