A delicate fusion of styles allows this Sydney home the best of both worlds

Who lives here: Pricillia and Ashley; and their daughters Amelia, three, and Grace, 10 months.

Style of home: A four-bedroom, three-bathroom fusion of Federation and contemporary that respected the former while adding mod cons and crisp, clean, modern style.

Location: Willoughby in Sydney, traditional land of the Gamaragal people.

Timeline: Interior designers Bone Made were hired in March 2021, and the build was from July to December 2021.

Budget: The original budget of $400,000 blew out to $600,000.

When owners Pricillia and Ashley walked into this four-bedroom Federation bungalow on Sydney’s lower North Shore in early 2021, they instantly fell for its period charms. Sinuous ceiling roses, cornicing and luminescent stained-glass windows, all blissfully intact, wove a special spell for this couple looking for a new home. “It ticked all the boxes, with its cottage-like feel, and all its detailing gave it so much character,” says Pricillia.
But the tired decor – vintage 1990s, with expanses of shiny knotted pine – marred the magic, and they knew the house would require work to make it their own. And despite the airy open plan on the rear, the result of an earlier renovation, when they walked in the door, rooms flanking the hallway created a closed-in feel. “While it had lovely high ceilings, it was not as open as we would like,” says Pricillia. “And it all felt dated.”
Through Instagram, Pricillia encountered the work of Bone Made principals Leah and Fliss Pitman, which encapsulated the look she was after. “We liked their portfolio’s warm, earthy feel, with neutral colours, breezy and airy, using lots of white but not clinical due to the timber and textures. We felt they could neatly combine a period cottage feel with the contemporary.”
According to Leah, “Pricillia and Ashley wanted to preserve the charm and the character, while making everything fresher, with a light palette and plenty of natural light“. With a young family (now two girls under four), lashings of storage was needed to ensure the neat look could be kept, even on frenetic days.
Little structural work was required. Leah removed two half-walls separating the formal living and dining (both partially opened to the hallway in a previous renovation) to create one open plan. A steel beam replaced the supporting wall between the formal living and open-plan space, while a window was enlarged in the informal living to optimise the light. Meanwhile, Leah added a limestone fireplace to create a focal point, as well as a sense of demarcation between the two spaces. For easy alfresco entertaining, new bi-folds that reprise bi-folds in the adjacent lounge connect the kitchen to the deck.

Engineered-oak floating floors were placed over the Baltic pine boards throughout the living areas for a crisp, contemporary look, and the timber is echoed in new joinery. “We wanted to pay homage to the existing detailing, with knots through it and a limed, textured feel,” says Leah.

In a similar vein, the new kitchen serves up Shaker-style joinery – “it needed that extra layer of classic detail so it didn’t look too contemporary” – and marble-look benchtops echo the period features while lending a modern twist. Four leather stools and timber bring warmth, heightened by the pale sage joinery, a beautiful counterpoint to the crisp whites. Meanwhile, window seats with drawers underneath, both in the informal and formal living areas, provide ready storage, while a pack-away study sits behind Shaker-style pocket doors to one side of the kitchen.
The three bathrooms sport terrazzo tiles on the floors and up to the dado rails. “The clients were set on terrazzo, with its Art Deco associations, and it blends beautifully with stained-glass windows,” says Leah. Kit-kat tiles above the rails lend texture.

Pendant lights create statements throughout. The most striking are the angular lighting strips in the dining area, up-to-the-minute counterpoints to the flamboyant ceiling rose directly above. “Bold and contrasting, the light fittings add depth,” says Leah. “The simple modern pendant in an ornate ceiling rose creates a fascinating fusion of styles.”

For the furniture, the designer specified a classic, uncluttered look. This is exemplified in a custom solid-oak dining table, together with curvaceous Thonet chairs with woven backs that deliver a nod to the past but without fussiness. “Curves recur
throughout, in the oval dining table, dining chairs, occasional tables, joinery, main bedroom bedhead and mirrors, creating a relaxed elegance,” says Leah.

Every space is used. “We spend most of our time in the living area at the back,” explains Pricillia, “while the front room is used as a playroom and the study is used by Ashley for WFH. And, with a second study and appliance nook behind closed doors, we can shut the clutter away when we have people round. We wanted a modern, sophisticated home while retaining the heritage character – and Bone Made have delivered just that.”


The removal of internal walls ensures natural light and warmth throughout the day while supplying ventilation, which means the house keeps its cool during the warmer months.

Adds Leah: “It was so enjoyable to align a design back to an earlier period and create a fusion of styles, which is our favourite type of project. I absolutely love the fireplace. It injects soul and warmth while referencing the heritage detailing. Once in that room, you never want to leave.”

” Acknowledge your shortcomings and get the designers involved from the word go,” says Pricillia, homeowner. ” This is so they can focus your attention to what you really want from the design. I am really indecisive, so Bone Made gave me a clear idea of where to go from the outset. Also, allow extra in your budget for contingencies. It is expensive to renovate and always ends up costing more than you think — in this case, 50 per cent more. We thought our budget was plenty, but there are always variations, so you have to plan for those.”
For more information, visit bonemade.com.au

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