LIVING A 17th-century Flemish tapestry and Italian coffee table epitomise the harmonious balance of traditional and contemporary elements. Console table, Le Forge. Timber bowl and fish trap, The Design Hunter. MAIN BEDROOM Eastern artefacts and simple foliage combine to create an exquisite tableau, as delicate as a Japanese ink drawing. For similar vase, try Alfresco Emporium. For Where to Buy, see page 204.
This is the life
“Claude and Paula live very full lives, both professionally and socially, and their home is a place to gather, regroup and plan adventures,” says designer, Jeff Karskens. The kitchen and family room are the day-to-day focus of the house. “With our Italian backgrounds, food and eating is very important,” says Paula. “There is always someone cooking and friends dropping in for a meal.”
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A theme of ‘water and air’ inspired the ethereal renovation of this Japanese-inspired home on Sydney’s North Shore, where all elements are arranged in perfect balance. STORY KATE NIXON v STYLING ADAM ROBINSON v PHOTOGRAPHY NATALIE HUNFALVAY
GROUND FLOOR Living Laundry
LOWER GROUND FLOOR
Media Storage Bed Pool Bed Bed
ith its unique shingled roofline, this 1960s home is something of a landmark on Sydney’s North Shore. Claude and Paula Ferraris, longtime local residents, knew and admired the property well before it came up for sale. “We loved its distinctive Japanese-style roof, the privacy afforded by the surrounding bush, and the water views,” says Paula. “It was originally built in the ’60s with a view to being used by the Japanese consulate,” she says. Thus the distinctly oriental references throughout the architecture and landscaping. The interior, however, was a very different landscape, dominated by brown shag-pile carpet, brown-and-orange striped curtains and mission-brown timber. Claude and Paula bought the property in 1993 and lived in it for a year with their children, Nicholas and Annalisa, now in their 20s, before doing minor renovations and an initial interior refurbishment. “It wasn’t until some 20 years later that we decided it was time to completely renovate,” says Paula. Keen to preserve and highlight original features, they briefed designer Jeff Karskens, recommended by builder Eddie Saadeh of Fres Constructions, to devise a more efficient use of the home’s existing space while retaining its clean lines, simplicity and functionalism. “Detail and quality of finish were important to us, as was enhancing and refining the Japanese influences,” says Paula. “The existing house was structurally very sound but needed a complete refurbishment to freshen it up,” says Jeff. “The original floor plan was very well laid out in response to the steep site and remarkable outlook, with all rooms enjoying the views and sun.”
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‘DETAIL AND QUALITY OF FINISH WERE IMPORTANT TO US, AS WAS ENHANCING THE JAPANESE INFLUENCES.’ PAULA
KITCHEN Paula and her son Nicholas cook up a storm. The recipe for the material palette includes stained Tasmanian oak, Michelangelo marble (similar to Carrara) and select-grade tallowwood on the floor. Joinery by Taska Joinery. Basket and wooden bowl, The Design Hunter. Decorative pears, Imagine This. Clock, Alessi. CASUAL DINING Made for the owners’ previous home, the table and chairs show a high level of craftsmanship, which tallies well with this home’s architecture. “Because of the white background, the mix of traditional and modern seems to blend together,” says Paula. Designer buy: Tom Dixon Fat Beat pendant lights, $616/each, Dedece. For Where to Buy, see page 204.
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‘THE INTERIORS ARE REFERENCED TO SIMPLE, ALMOST MONOCHROMATIC, THEMES FROM JAPAN...’ JEFF KARSKENS, DESIGNER
“The predominance of oriental details in the architecture needed to be balanced against a contemporary home, not a faux tea-house,” says Jeff. “It has a clear and peaceful character, not specifically Japanese but certainly consistent with the themes that make that style so appealing.” The changes serve to enhance the beauty of the home’s existing features, such as the screens in the living room and the timber coffered ceiling.
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LIVING/FORMAL DINING (above and opposite) “New windows with thermally efficient glazing block all UV light so the rooms can be open to the views all day,” says Jeff. For similar sofas, try Mark Tuckey. Piano, Yamaha. Antique dining table purchased at auction. Curtains in Limoges Plisse fabric in Alabaster, Unique Fabrics. Rugs, International Floorcoverings. Smart buy: Chinese Worker stool (opposite), $165, The Design Hunter. STAIRWELL From this vantage point you can appreciate the bold forms of the beautifully laid floorboards, elaborate screens and a coffered ceiling with concealed lighting. Timber flooring, Hardware & General. For Where to Buy, see page 204.
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H&G HOUSES Dulux Antique White USA (interiors throughout)
Dulux Red Box (front door)
Dulux Monument (external masonry)
Porter’s Paints custom shade (trim, screens, joinery)
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‘THE HOUSE NOW FEELS OPEN AND LIGHT, WITH A CASUAL ELEGANCE.’ PAULA
ANNALISA’S ROOM Perched halfway down a slope, the home’s design provides views from all rooms. Velvet cushion, cowhide cushion and Bemboka throw, The Design Hunter. Windows, Hanlon Windows. Artwork by Annalisa Ferraris. Designer buy: Block Roses print cushion, from $144, Edit. MAIN BEDROOM Shoji-style doors were crafted from Tasmanian oak. Lacquered timber chest, Imagine This. Pique II carpet in Tempting Taupe, Cavalier Bremworth. ENTRANCE The steeply pitched roof with swept eaves makes this a local landmark. Landscaping by True Form Landscape Architecture. For Where to Buy, see page 204.
Paint colours are reproduced as accurately as printing processes allow.
“The outlook and peacefulness of the site inspired the theme ‘water and air’, which fit very well with the original home,” says Jeff. “Claude and Paula were keen to build on the oriental/Japanese character, and we developed a simple, contemporary palette based on those elements.” The front door now brings guests into a hexagonal vestibule that opens directly onto the spacious living room and adjoining dining room. One hallway runs west from the entrance to the main bedroom suite, bathroom and study. A second hall, running east, connects kitchen and family living room, and a laundry adjacent to the pantry. Stairs leading down from the entry vestibule link three bedrooms on the lower ground level, including one with an ensuite, plus another bathroom, media room, art room and storage. White walls offset dramatic dark architraves and timber detailing, with tallowwood floorboards bringing warmth to the internal spaces. “The interiors are referenced to simple, almost monochromatic, themes from Japan, accented with a fiery red front door,” says Jeff. “Externally, the dark grey promotes the unique and distinctive architectural form.” With the pool area and landscaping updated, the whole site has come together beautifully. “The house now feels open and light, with a casual elegance,” says Paula. “Each room takes advantage of the outlook of the bush and # water views. It works well and is easy to live in.” Jeff Karskens Designer, Waterloo, NSW; (02) 9552 1169 or www.jkdesigner.com.au. Builder: Fres Constructions, Bronte, NSW; 0417 663 135.
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