Return To Eden
Belle Magazine Australia|October 2017

Fond childhood memories led an expat to tackle the revamp of an Arts and Crafts home on an estate on Sydney’s north shore.

Tanya Buchanan

When the long-term expat owner of this expansive Arts and Crafts home on Sydney’s upper north shore bought it in 2007 the reasons were twofold – firstly, it reminded him of a happy childhood growing up in the area and secondly, it was evocative of memories of a great stint working in England where many of the homes on the outskirts of London had a similar aesthetic.

He had fallen in love with the resort-style expanse of the grounds and wanted to return there to raise his children – prompted by a period living in Singapore, and a hankering for his childhood spent on the leafy north shore.

Built in the 1930s, the home has a local heritage listing which presented challenges to his plans to open up and lighten the house to create a contemporary look and layout for the family of four.

To deal with these issues he briefed architects Brett Churcher and John Hooghuis of Playoust Churcher to contemporise the house for today’s living while maintaining the classic facade which was subject to heritage restrictions.

Inside was a rabbit warren of dark, low-ceilinged, damp rooms, disconnected from the 3000-square-metre garden with a pool and tennis court, so one of his major requests to the architects was to open up the house and connect it to the fabulously extensive, but underutilised, grounds. He also added an interior designer and landscaper to the team. He had seen the work of Justine Hugh Jones in Belle and was simultaneously referred to her by a family friend.

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