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‘EAST MEETS MODERN’ Kerry and Stephen fell in love with the light and space of their harbourside apartment. And they loved the massive weathered doors too. Take a look at the apartment before they made their mark on it, then turn to page 22 to see it now. STYLING TIM NEVE PHOTOGRAPHY JOHAN PALSSON

Location: Harbourside penthouse apartment at Newcastle, NSW. In a city that grew around its harbour, this home has a strong affinity with its surroundings. Coincidentally, our sister publication, Country Home Ideas, featured this home several years ago when it was decorated in a completely different style. But, as can be seen in the ‘before’ photos, both the previous owners and the current ones addressed the scale of the living area in a similar way, avoiding small and fussy in favour of large pieces of furniture in natural materials. Kerry and Stephen, the new owners, sourced almost everything, from the major furniture pieces right down to the table napkins and bowls, from Habitat Living at Adamstown.

Here’s the doors – making an impact on this decor too.


Complement neutral tones with organic shapes, varied textures and bright colour.

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EAST MEETS MODERN This truly inspiring interior balances modern apartment architecture with rich and warm air. STORY AND STYLING TIM NEVE PHOTOGRAPHY JOHAN PALSSON



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COLOUR CODE Follow Kerry and Stephen’s lead by introducing warm, rich paint tones into your home to create a welcoming ambience. Interior stylist Sibella Court’s new-season ‘Atelier’ colour range for Murobond is an autumn-inspired palette with deep damascus reds, copper, ochre tones with an anchor of caramely canvases, woods of artists’ easels and Japanese black lacquer. We love the luscious French names Sibella chose for each.



ow do you balance the sleek lines and architecture of a modern apartment with the desire to create a warm and inviting home? This was the question Stephen and Kerry raised when they were drawn to a penthouse with picturesque views of Newcastle’s working harbour. To help find the answer, they enlisted interior design consultants at Habitat Living because they were already familiar with their tactile homewares and relaxed furniture ensembles. In fact, ‘relaxed’ is an appropriate word to describe their brief. They aimed to create a space that was earthy and exotic while at the same time thoroughly modern. The design had to maximise the spacious openplan living area and make the most of the beautiful views. The solution was to divide this space into functional areas, consisting of both formal and casual dining, relaxed lounge area taking in the harbour vistas, and an adjoining cosy home-entertainment room.

As the design process evolved, they realised the apartment required furniture that would do more than simply fill it; it would need to have a grounding effect as well. An interesting proposition given this home is five storeys off the ground – it’s as if the interior needed to be connected to the earth to truly come alive, rather than become a cold minimalist space. To this end, large-scale pieces in varying wood tones were chosen, their forms purposely chunky and primitive in style, making each a statement piece. Small, fussy design would have done little to balance the grand proportions of the space and the couple and the designers all wished to avoid a random and cluttered appearance. ABOVE: Low streamlined furniture in the main living area was cleverly selected to maximise the harbour view. OPPOSITE PAGE: The feature doors make a stunning backdrop for the informal dining area with its light timber furniture.




The huge doors really do have a dramatic impact on this space, so there is little need then for artwork on the walls.

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When the time came to move in Stephen and Kerry had only just completed placing their furniture orders. So their first six weeks of occupancy meant makeshift living with temporary fold-out camping chairs and a card table sitting sparsely in all that space. They laugh at the situation now and agree “the wait was worth it”. They had utmost faith in the Habitat team, despite the fact their home was actually one of the first interior projects for the team, who had previously built a strong reputation in a retail capacity. Since then they’ve gone on to build a successful nationally recognised interior consultancy.

EASTERN ACCENT Inspiration for the theme comes from a huge set of rustic doors, chosen by the previous owner, that dominate and fill one wall of the apartment. They have an almost ethereal quality to them, their warmth and


scale pleasantly overwhelming to view. They set the tone for the rest of the space with rich, warm touches of rustic Easterninspired homewares scattered throughout. But the look remains ever modern. It’s no surprise, given the scale of the doors and other items selected, that a crane had to be hired to lift the pieces into the apartment. “There was no way they would fit in the apartment block lift,” Kerry laughs. “I spent the whole delivery day with my eyes closed, because the furniture being lifted was not just big but heavy too!” In front of the statement doors, light timber bench seating establishes the informal dining area and this in turn flows

ABOVE: A huge 10-seat table set to entertain guests, defines the formal dining area. OPPOSITE PAGE: The sleek galley kitchen is hidden from the main living area by a dividing wall .

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through to the sleek galley kitchen which is fitted out in white CaesarStone and partially obscured from the living room by a dividing wall.

The scheme is popped with dashes of vivid orange and deep ochres. The overall effect brings to mind an eastern sunset of sorts, warm and exotic in tone.



Kerry says their initial design brief was for colour, and even after the first concepts were presented she said “more colour”. But the result is far from being a garish explosion of bright tones; rather it’s a clever blend of selected warm hues with vivid accents against neutral shades throughout.

The priority of living in a penthouse apartment is, of course, to take full advantage of the surrounding landscape. And so low, streamlined furniture was cleverly selected for the main living area, to “maximise the harbour view from across the apartment, instead of blocking it” as Kerry explains.

KERRY’S TOP TIP: Be prepared to wait! Most furniture orders, especially custom designs, can take anywhere between eight and 12 weeks from order to delivery. Factor this in to your moving schedule, and be prepared to make-do if you must. The wait will be worth it.



The master bedroom is dominated by an oversize upholstered bed head that runs the length of one wall.

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A wall of sleek translucent blinds was required to manage the constant daylight that streams into the apartment from the wall of glass on the harbour side. The bonus is that the space requires little heating in winter, and not much cooling in summer thanks to the coastal breezes. The master bedroom is dominated by an oversize upholstered bedhead that runs the length of one wall, while textured manchester and tactile cushions continue the earthy ambience of the apartment. This room opens to the stunning white ensuite, which has both a bath and a walk-in shower, each with luxurious fittings and fixtures. Shuttered white bi-fold doors reveal glimpses of the harbour beyond, allowing a constant stream of wonderful natural light while maintaining privacy. ABOVE: In the guest bedroom, warm chocolate tones create an adult oasis. OPPOSITE PAGE: In the stunning white ensuite, both the bath and the walk-in shower have luxurious fittings and fixtures.


WARM AND WELCOMING The couple also wanted to create a functional space their family and friends would feel welcome in and have taken care to create a genial atmosphere. Defining the formal dining area is a huge 10-seat table in dark timber with textural upholstered armchairs. Again, colour is used sporadically yet strongly, with two of the 10 chairs in an orange fabric as accents. And in the guest bedroom warm chocolate tones create an adult oasis, with a bamboo dividing screen cleverly used as a bedhead to strong effect. Kerry and Stephen are delighted with the way the apartment has been transformed and sing the praises of the team at Habitat Living. In fact, they’ve altered the interior only minimally in the three years since its completion – besides adding a collection of wonderful family photographs and memory items since the recent addition of a grandson to the family – a sure sign of their pleasure in the outcome.

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Modern Home Magazine Story and Styling Tim Neve Photography Johan Palsson

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