Project Sheet: Rounded Out

Working with the client’s existing art collection, interior design studio Duet has taken this Sydney home to the next level with an interior filled with rich colours and a mix of old and new. Penny Craswell writes.

Located in Sydney’s Neutral Bay, this grand two-storey semi was already full of beautiful art when interior design studio Duet were hired to furnish the key living and sleeping spaces of the home. A Federation-era house with two street-frontages and a laneway to the rear, the home, called Grafton had already been renovated and extended, and didn’t need a new kitchen or bathrooms. But now that the client’s children were reaching their teenage years, it was time to invest in new interiors.

One of the first tasks that Duet undertook was to create an inventory of all the artworks, furniture, lighting and other pieces in the home, including a number of antiques. “It’s about celebrating all the treasures our clients had collected over the years,” explains Dominique Brammah, Director at Duet. “Their existing artwork and furniture pieces informed the rest of the interior.”

Full of stories, there’s pieces bought in the French flea market: a small painting in the hall and two table lamps in the main bedroom. There’s the antique Sri Lankan chairs with black wood and rattan seating that are dotted throughout the house, meaningful due to one of the client’s Sri Lankan heritage.

There are several paintings — a mix of old and new sometimes placed side by side, like in the living room where a contemporary landscape by Alexander McKenzie is right beside a more traditional portrait of a girl by Rhys Williams (1894 to 1976) with a gold frame. A sideboard by Adelaide furniture designer Khai Liew is in the dining room too, and is one of the clients’ prized possessions.

The next step was to paint all of the living spaces and bedrooms, and the designers and clients alike were not afraid to choose deep colours. In the living room, a blue instantly ties the space together, while the designers set about sourcing the best pieces to complete the interiors. 

One of their most striking finds is the Tissé dining chairs with a characteristic stripe from Worn Store in Burringbar, NSW. “The selection of those chairs is testament to the bravery of the client,” says Dominique. “There was no convincing that had to be done on those. The dining space is quite formal but the Tissé chairs inject that personality.”

The designers also created some custom pieces for the space, including a gorgeous brass sconce, some custom upholstery and a deep green storage cabinet that hides the television. The first of these, located in the informal dining space, was designed by the team at Duet to fit that particular spot. “The client envisaged a beautiful wall light in that space and said she could never find the right one. So we designed a custom brass sconce that’s a talking point — a sculpture on the wall, not just a light.”

The deep gren cabinet in the main living space was also designed by Duet and made by local furniture manufacturer Jonathan West. The piece sports a glossy finish and timber edges and legs, with small metal handles. The doors are bi-fold, opening to reveal the television discreetly tucked away.

These pieces are the cherry on the cake in this project, one which has taken a considered approach to the creation of a home rich with memories.

Above: A 1927 Portrait of lady in cane chair by A.Clavel looks over the formal living area, where a Shuffle MH1 side table by &Tradition from Cult Design sits upon a Segovia rug by Robyn Cosgrove. Photos: Anson Smart. Styling: Olga Lewis. Design and Courtesy: Duet, Sydney.

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Project Sheet: Rounded Out

Working with the client’s existing art collection, interior design studio Duet has taken this Sydney home to the next level with an interior filled with rich colours and a mix of old and new. Penny Craswell writes.