When owners Andrea and Hugh Killen sought to renovate and substantially extend their 1861 sandstone cottage in Hunters Hill on Sydney’s lower north shore, the couple had great confidence they’d get precisely the look and feel they were after.
Of course, it helped that Andrea happened to be the interior designer on the project. “I had this image of what I wanted to create coupled with the feeling of the home for the family I wanted to create,” says Killen, who runs her own design studio, AK Designs. First and foremost, Killen wanted a house she, her husband and two sons properly lived in – every room needed to function and be used.
She also was set on a contemporary addition to the Victorian cottage, with an open-plan area flowing onto a covered deck, which could be used year-round by family and to entertain.
“I have always loved the blend of old and new,” she says. She had in mind, too, a Colorado ranch style – something breezy and outdoorsy, full of natural, warm and cosy tones and textures. That reminded her of Telluride, her “spiritual home” in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. As owner and interiors commander-in-chief, Killen could include the distinctive deep jade-coloured kitchen island bench she’d always wanted.
Still, while the Killens knew the design they wanted, the challenge of working with an architect who matched their vision remained. At the time of purchase, they were still living in the US. John Rose, principal of TKD Architects, was recommended to them and he drew them a concept.
Rose conceived a substantial contemporary two-storey building set back and offset from the sandstone cottage at the front, so from the street his design read as two separate and discrete buildings. Cleverly, though, both were intrinsically linked.
In the restored cottage, the office – from where Killen ran her business – lounge and spare bedroom seamlessly moved through to the new living-dining-entertaining wing, ensuring space wasn’t wasted, as Killen had instructed. Sandstone recycled from the property, a onetime dairy, for the new works also connected new with old.
“Physically, the cottage and new wing needed to be blended,” says Rose.
A breezeway between old and new quarters and large spans of glass also provided the openness and airiness that Killen wanted.
Rose says the job was easier dealing with an owner and interior designer as one who grasped his thinking from the get-go. “Andrea has great taste,” he says. “It could’ve been harder if she didn’t.”
This also helped the Killens fast-track the process, choosing to build and do the detailed design simultaneously. “Decisions throughout the project that started out as budget-driven were rethought as design and aesthetic decisions,” says Rose.
It helped, too, that Rose had worked with the builder previously and had a good relationship with Hunter’s Hill Council. “We have a very good understanding of what we can and can’t do,” he says.