With its soaring cathedral ceilings, this threelevel home overlooking the harbour in Sydney’s inner east takes light-filled, airy living to lofty new heights. Sky and water are constant companions in a spectacular house that boldly defies its boundaries by exploiting its sloping site to its full potential. Miraculously, that celestial openness has been achieved within a street frontage a mere eight metres wide.
When the owners bought the property in 2016, it was monopolised by a 100-year-old duplex with a maze of poky rooms, many starved of light. “Location and potential attracted us. The original house was divided into two apartments, one above the other, with both in need of TLC. We wanted to combine them into a single home,” says the owner, understating what the couple had in mind.
On a family recommendation, they hired Stafford architects to effect the transformation. And, fittingly, they gave project architect Bronwyn Litera a breezy, open brief. “We gave her a free hand to design the spaces while maximising light,” says the owner. “We purely specified the amount of bedrooms and living space required that would suit our family and lifestyle.”
“It was super-narrow, but it was blessed with incredibly generous 3.4m-high ceilings,” says Bronwyn, “with a beautiful pitched roof form and a wasted ceiling cavity.” She gutted the house, with just the tiled roof, chimneys and two boundary walls retained in accordance with heritage requirements. What took place within that envelope was a revelation. On the sloping site, the floors were located where they were previously, preserving the generous ceiling heights, while the past was not forgotten in other ways, with gentle nods in the curves and arches sprinkled throughout and the terracotta roof referenced in the dining room tiles.
“Bringing in the light was the greatest challenge, especially with the long, narrow section and the party walls on two sides,” says Bronwyn. “We created corridors from front to back along the length of the property to make sure the dining room in the centre and bedrooms on the upper level on the east side get plenty of sunlight.” And the once-wasted ceiling cavity has been utilised with vaulted ceilings in the bedrooms upstairs.
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