Flirting With The Past

Beyond the heritage red brick façade of this Federation home, is an interior extension that flirts with moments of the past and brings them into the present to create a timeless, uncomplicated design. The project brief called for liveability, and so The Stylesmiths lead designer Priscilla Elasi delivered a home that responds to the everyday life and entertaining needs of the family of five, matching the lively rhythm of multicultural Burwood, Western Sydney. 

The considered renovation paid mindful attention to the charming heritage characteristics that the homeowners fell in love with, and in turn, so did Priscilla. Telling a gradual story of change that moves with the home and the family, Priscilla says “these features remain the quiet heroes that inspired every decision. Our clients are what made this experience special, and I wanted to do them justice. Even Uncle Amil who lives next door was included in the conversation.”
The welcome mat sits upon up-cycled copper stone, used to retile the front doorstep in a way that enhances the original materials. The same respect is shown for the architectural moulding and beautiful archways that remain in the entrance hall, accented by simplistic artwork, a custom floor runner and accompanying dark timber console that counters the light coloured, newly re-stained hardwood floors. Our clients craved a space to unwind, prompting the use of neutral colours, plush furnishings and warm accents to realise their vision. Walking through, every element is of generous proportions, including the emotive art that feels immersive and soothing with shades of blue, orange and green. 

The front reading room has been lavishly coated in layers of deep navy to further reflect the era of the home, using rich colours to create a moody yet cosy space by the fire. An eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings throughout the project has been impressively curated to create the desired sense of homeliness and belonging. 

The stain-glass windows are framed by midnight velvet Mokum curtains and complimented by the Healey soft chair by Walter Knoll in tan leather. The room is made complete by the authentic vintage crystal chandelier that forges a connection to the rest of the home, inspiring the use of handblown glass for all new contemporary lighting fixtures. 

A new bathroom with integrated laundry replaces what was formerly the undersized kitchen. Fresh and neutral, the understated joinery allows the aged brass tapware to shine, while calacatta stone tiling in a classic hexagon mosaic pattern takes the attention away from what is hidden behind the shaker style joinery doors. A delicate blown glass feature wall light from Articolo is a thoughtful addition, blending in with the neutrality of the calming space. 

As we descend into the spacious addition of the home, belies a luxuriously sized living area transitioning from heritage to modern with hints of historic elements. Here, the clients desired a European-inspired peaceful flow that continues out into the backyard, prioritising the use of locally produced natural fibres that promise longevity. Ensuring the elements remained proportionate to the space and their future use, the dining boasts a ten-seater table made from solid timber and black leather chairs that correspond to the kitchen island bench stools by Grazia & Co. Skylights above introduce an abundance of natural light, uninterrupted by the steel bi-folding doors with glass panels and softened by the pure linen curtains that skirt the lounge. 

Handmade and slightly imperfect Moroccan Zellige tiles add depth to the kitchen splashback, the wobbly ceramic surfaces subtly reflecting different degrees of light, drawing the eyes in. The porcelain back bench is strategically simple with a thin edge to allow for the marble island to be the main attraction, the underside elegantly wrapped in a deep walnut colour to contrast below eye-level. By positioning the sink to the left side of the kitchen, the generous counter becomes flexible enough to double as a second, less formal dining space. For a big family with an even bigger extended family, storage is everything, which is why the hidden butler’s kitchen has been a game-changer in terms of functionality. 

Priscilla believes that “in a calm, tonal space such as this, where colourful decoration is restrained, playing with tactile materials is a perfect way to build character and interest.” To achieve this, a double-sided wood fireplace has been centrally installed, forging a consistent relationship between paralleling zones inside and out. Focused on elevating the hosting experience, designer and client worked closely to produce a relaxed atmosphere. As part of this, a mustard leather ottoman sits where a coffee table typically would, further reinforcing a casual feel that embraces lounging on the sofa, chatting on the back porch and midday swims in the kidney shaped pool. 

Upstairs, the daughter’s bedroom replicates the use of natural fibres and fabrics – a wool-blend Armadillo and co rug underfoot, light timber side tables and aged brass that shines through in the antique bedframe, kept for sentimental reasons. Note the wardrobe joinery that hardly looks new, effortlessly referencing the Federation style. 

This unique design experience was full of emotion and connection, resulting in an elegant mix of heritage and contemporary that has brought about new life for this enchanting Federation family home, fit for hosting now into the future.