Using light, colour and art, Sydney designer Brendan Wong transformed an old Victorian dame into a modern masterpiece. Far from a look-don’t-touch gallery space, this exquisitely modernised home is warm, liveable and brimming with character.
Nestled at the end of a row among towering trees that reach its third level, the home’s north-facing living spaces and balconies breathe in views of Paddington and beyond.
Generous in width, the terrace home draws in sunlight from three sides. The top level houses bedrooms and bathrooms, while the garden level includes the kitchen, living spaces and guest quarters.
The middle floor boasts prime aspect and light; its two disjointed halves acting as a thoroughfare. Wong was tasked with elevating the home and making this space more functional. “It needed to be welcoming and approachable, yet still have a sense of occasion,” he says.
Reconceiving the middle level as a contemporary salon, it now houses adjoining living and dining rooms that access an outdoor terrace. The subtle palette of travertine floors, crisp white walls and minimal mouldings balance an eclectic mix of furnishings. Wong’s authoritative use of colour and pattern, coupled with the owner’s art collection, provides a starting point for decorating.
Of note, a portrait by Arthur Boyd of renowned art curator Alannah Coleman above the living room fireplace. Her crimson scarf informs moments of deep claret in the form of custom velvet armchairs, silk rugs, and Hermes cushions. “It’s a colour luminous by day, and in the evening, it takes on a darker, more mysterious tone,” says Wong. A refined modern chandelier provides punctuation and complements a pair of sculptural Heathfield Hildegarde lamps on either side of the fireplace. In the centre of the rug, coffee tables crafted from handblown glass and brass act like art.
Black is applied boldly to frame mirrors, express drapery rods, and in ebonised furniture. Metallic accents range from brass to nickel, providing a seamless shift from warm to cooler tones.
Adjacent in the dining room, a striking yellow Brad Munro artwork influenced by Chinese painters, provides a dramatic backdrop for dining. The table is embraced by chairs and a Max Alto Febo dining sofa flanked by a pair of Kelly Wearstler lamps.
“The use of the sofa to one side of the dining table allows this area to also be used for morning coffee with a newspaper or relaxed cocktails,” says Wong. Deep crimson velvet cushions reference the colours in the custom silk rug and the french doors open out to a balcony inviting in natural light and breezes.
“Having wonderful natural light, we wanted to ensure the dining space was used throughout the day and not limited to purely dining,” says Wong. “When the doors are open, it’s a favourite place for the owner to sit.”
Upstairs, the main bedroom is a study in serenity with a geometric carpet in black and navy providing chutzpah. A custom bedhead in platinum velvet is accompanied by bedside tables embedded with Mexican antique mirrors and elegant James Said lamps.
Wong says the result walks the line between Victorian elegance and contemporary form. The middle level provides the family with unparalleled luxury and liveability.
“It’s as equally delightful on summer days as on winter nights,” says the owner. “It’s both elegant and relaxed and feels welcoming for just one of us or during a big party.”