Perfect Blend
Australian House & Garden Magazine|May 2021
It’s not always easy to harmoniously combine two families’ treasures into one household, but it certainly helps when there’s an interior designer in the building...
Georgia Madden

Merging the lives of two families into the one household is always a delicate business. It’s something that was at the front of interior designer Anna McMillan’s mind when she set about redecorating the home she shares with her partner James, their children Liz, 19, Connor, 19, and Gabi, 17, plus two dogs and three cats. “Blending the two families has been an adjustment for all of us,” she says. “Decorating this house was about being respectful to each person’s emotional connection to their home and creating a space we could all enjoy and call our own.”

Located on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, ‘Camelot’ is a two-storey sandstone house built in 1905 with breathtaking views of Chinamans Beach. “Prior to James buying the property, it had been in the same family for 50 years,” says Anna. “He undertook a major renovation in 2010, primarily to modernise the layout.” He flipped the floor plan, bringing the kitchen to the front of the house to make the most of that glorious view, and knocked through a wall to create a generous open-plan kitchen/dining space.

While that layout worked well, Anna couldn’t shake the feeling that the decor didn’t suit the home’s coastal setting. “The interior was quite masculine – lots of dark chocolate, orange and beige, and rather formal furniture – and did little to connect to its glorious outlook,” says Anna. “To me, this house was crying out for something fresher, more welcoming and more relaxed. James told me to do whatever I needed to do to make it work for our family and for it to feel like a comfortable, inviting home.”

Anna put a lot of thought into a home that respected both families’ histories plus allowed space for creating a new chapter together. “I incorporated pieces from both of our families: the console in the hallway, for example, was a wedding gift from my first marriage and the artworks are pieces I’ve collected over time. James found the beautiful dining table at Coco Republic a few years ago; the mirrors in the entry and the living room are part of his collection too,” she says. “The key was curating pieces to make them shine within a new scheme.”

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