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homes {cottage charm}

second story This home first appeared in Home Beautiful in the 90s and, thanks to Claire and Kenny’s retweaks, it’s still an inspiration STORY SHELLEY TUSTIN STYLING ADAM ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY NATALIE HUNFALVAY


Bristol Weather Tough exterior paint in Silver Skates, $34.11/1l, Taubmans.

This northern Sydney cottage belongs to homeowner Claire {above} and her family. The white decor is surprisingly compatible with family life – for example, the Ikea ‘Ektorp’ sofas feature washable slip covers. Flashes of blue, in the form of a geometric Armadillo & Co ‘Triangle’ rug and a print found at a local homewares store, add a hint of coastal style. The charming facade {opposite} is virtually unchanged from the time Claire and her husband Kenny first fell for their cottage, from the cobblestone path to the manicured gardenia hedges. A coat of paint was all that was needed, with the couple choosing a sophisticated palette of greys: Bristol Silver Skates on the weatherboards and the darker Bristol Fortress on the trims, both from Taubmans. “I’d paint everything white if I could! But my husband wanted something with a little colour, and it is nice to have a bit of grey,” says Claire. Tough pup Archie stands guard at the front door. >


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KITCHEN “There was nowhere to sit,”

LIVING ROOM {left & above left} Renovations by previous

owners have added beauty and functionality – large windows flood the room with sunlight and the built-in wall cabinet has performed a decade or two of practical storage service. “It’s handy, that’s for sure,” says Claire. “I would actually like to extend it with some bookshelves above, and maybe have some panelling on the doors.”


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artwork (top left) elizabeth beaumont

“The extension was done in 1987 but it feels like a modern design” ~ Claire

in the eyes of a house hunter, the status of perfection is easily attained. A home’s flaws are often glossed over and assets enhanced through the rosy glasses of house lust. When Claire and Kenny stumbled upon their northern Sydney home eight years ago, it was genuinely close to perfection by anyone’s standards. From its charming weatherboard facade to the wonderfully airy living spaces and lush garden out the back, it had a universally appealing mix of historic beauty and modern allure – it had even graced the pages of Home Beautiful, appearing in the November 1997 issue! The couple were giddy with delight at their good fortune when they moved in with their nine-month-old daughter Emily – now eight – and had no plans to do anything more than just sling some fresh paint on the walls. Yet, it soon became clear that a perfect home for a couple with a baby would be less-than-perfect for a growing family with young, active children. “When we’d lived in it for a while, we realised that it could be so much better if we put some time and effort into it,” says Claire, who is also now mum to James, seven. The first priority was addressing the old-fashioned layout. The kitchen and bathroom were swapped around and a wall knocked down to create a large open-plan living space, making it easier to engage with – and keep an eye on – the kids from the kitchen. Though the garden was gorgeous, it became the couple’s next major project: “It was beautiful – Balinese-inspired, with palm trees everywhere – but it was a bit of a jungle. It sloped on two angles and had retaining walls everywhere,” recalls Claire. A pool was installed and surrounded by a more child-friendly layout of level lawns, bordered by low-maintenance gardens. A pergola was also added on to the back of the house to make it a much-used spot for alfresco dining. The rear of the house, added by the previous homeowners back in the 1980s, is flooded with sunlight, crisscrossed with pillars and beams, and capped with high pitched ceilings. Painted white to amplify the light and filled with white-painted furniture and a few dashes of soft grey and blue, the space is a little bit Hamptons meets tropical. “I do like that coastal living look,” comments Claire. With her children in mind, she chose hard-wearing and budget-savvy finishes; the kitchen units are laminate, topped with a hardy Caesarstone, rather than the marble Claire dreams of. “When I do something, I like to do it properly, but there’s no point with children – I don’t want to live in a house where I’ll be upset every time they bang a drawer!” she remarks. “So I’ll happily let them use it as they like and one day I’ll redo it and get my nice dream kitchen.” With their renovations now complete, life is pretty close to perfect – however Claire admits, as the family grows, there may be new plans afoot; the pool shed may one day become a teenagers’ den and the upper floor may be extended to accommodate a roomy parents’ retreat. The only thing that’s certain is that Claire and Kenny aren’t going anywhere. “Even when the kids have gone, we’ll want to stay here. The location and everything about it works for us. We just love it.”

recalls Claire of the original kitchen. “When you’ve got young kids, it’s important to have somewhere to plonk them down when they’re doing their homework.” After Claire and Kenny moved in, plans were made to swap the kitchen with the bathroom, which was located just off the living room. After 13 weeks of barbecues and builders’ dust, the modern makeover was complete. The old laminate cabinets were replaced by a new Caesarstone benchtop and matching splashback in Osprey. Accessories are a savvy mix of luxe and less – the ‘Ingolf’ barstools are from Ikea, while the zinc-frame ‘Double Cube’ pendant light is a splash-out purchase from Cotton Love Home. > {MARCH 2014} 85

MASTER BEDROOM With its triangular window framed by the pitched ceiling and a balcony overlooking the roof, the master bedroom is a sanctuary for Claire and Kenny. Decorated in black and white, this is a very grown-up corner of the family home; bedside lamps from Olly’s Of Seaforth sit on ‘White Louvre’ side tables from Alfresco Emporium, while the black sleigh bed, which Claire bought almost 20 years ago, is piled with cushions from Edit.

EMILY’S bedROOM {left & above centre} A white base makes it effortless to dress Emily’s room with pretty-in-pink touches, and easy to update as she grows. The ‘Manto’ side table is from Alfresco Emporium. For similar wall hooks, try Etsy. james’ bedroom {above right & below right} Little pirate James loves climbing the rigging to sleep on the top of his ‘Matt’ bunk beds from Treehouse, overlooked by his own ship. “It’s just a $2 thing from Bali, hung on a bit of fishing wire,” says Claire. The Union Jack trunk from Coco Republic and cushion from Lakeland Design are a nod to Claire’s English heritage. For a similar rug, try the ‘Stars’ design from My First Room and head to Pottery Barn Kids for a range of nautical inspired bedding.


‘G unnel’ wool blanket,e$2t80.50 /1.8m x 1.3m, Project 82.

bathroom The elegant clawfoot tub came with

the house and is one of Claire’s favourite pieces. “It’s from the 1840s and was in pretty bad shape,” she recalls. “We had it completely stripped back by Boutique Baths. It was worth every cent!” Monogrammed towels from Raspberry Ripple are a handy addition, with an ‘Ingolf’ chair from Ikea adding a practical touch. >

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we love

Alfresco charm

The functional outdoor eating space is sheltered by an airy pergola that follows the roofline. It’s crafted from clear Laserlite and timber lattice to allow dappled sunlight to filter through, with electric ‘Luminara’ candles used to light evening meals. “I’m obsessed with those candles – they’re incredible! They work on timers, so they come on for five hours each night and then switch themselves off,” says Claire.

“When the kids are older I’d like to raise the pool house roof a litt le and it will be a good teenage space” ~ Claire


’Cobb & Co’ split sto from $88.88/sqm, EconeOutpavdooersr. ,

outdoors {this page & opposite} What started out as a hodgepodge of different levels and angles was levelled into a more manageable layout, with an undercover dining room, a kid-friendly rectangle of lawn and steps up to a heated pool. “In summer, the pool gets used almost every day – the kids come home from school and jump straight in,” comments Claire. The dining chairs are from Recollections and similar French provincial-style tables can be found at La Maison. The split-stone tiles add a rich layer of colour and texture to the simple outdoor scheme, with the stone’s varied hues – from cream and sand to grey – sitting pretty next to the home’s painted exterior. Separate seating nooks with cushions from Edit, Camilla and Pony Rider were created with woven sofas from Urban Balcony {top left & opposite} and poolside loungers from Adirondack Chairs Australia {top right}.

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Who lives here?

Claire, a stay-at-home mum; her husband, Kenny, an accountant; their children Emily, eight, and James, seven; and Archie, the King Charles cavalier.

How do you successfully combine a white interior with a young family? Claire: “The children are surprisingly good with the white interior – the dog is another story! I tend to avoid anything that can’t be easily wiped or machine washed.”

What’s next on your renovation wish list?

“I’d love a fabulous new master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe. I would also like to make some adjustments to the pool house.”

Where do you like to shop?

“I love to browse local shops, but I also buy a lot from overseas, especially London. I find the choice and variety amazing. I’m not afraid to ring shops and ask for quotes to ship to Australia – and often it’s not as expensive as you’d think.”

Claire created a vanity by customising a buffet she found in a local shop. For a similar black-and-white rug, try the ‘Chevron’ rug from Freedom.

Do you have any favourite finds?

“I love my bar stools in the kitchen. They’re from Ikea but they fit the house perfectly and were so inexpensive. I also love my outdoor setting – the table was expensive, the chairs were not, but together they’re a perfect pairing!”

courtyard Claire had a firm idea of the furniture she wanted for her outdoor living

room – “I wanted a small toffee-coloured weave lounge with white cushions. I don’t know why I was so specific about it – I just was!” She finally found the ideal setting at Urban Balcony, and dressed the sofas with cushions from Edit and Camilla.






Eyescape Landscaping, 0423 622 753,

A Wonki Ware bowl picks up the sky blue tones in the dining roo m’s artwork.

balcony master bed




artwork (inset) elizabeth beaumont. actual paint colours may vary on application. ILLUSTRATION KENZIEDESIGN.COM

“It’s nice to have some colour in the house, but I do like my neutrals” ~ Claire


entry bed



living l’dry

pool house

Profile for Natalie Hunfalvay Photography

Second Story Home Beautiful Magazine  

Second Story Home Beautiful Magazine