A kitchen defined by a curated, yet eclectic sensibility is at the heart of Baldwin & Bagnall’s Annandale House, a contemporary renovation within a grand double-storey Victorian terrace in Annandale, Sydney.
The project saw interior designers Heath Baldwin and Hayden Bagnall working closely with the clients, with a collaborative working relationship essential to the success of a fast-paced design and construction process. When the designers first came on site, the demolition of the back of the terrace was already underway. As a result, the design was conducted almost in parallel with the construction process.
“They were building as we were designing,” says Heath. “We were sketching, presenting and things were being built within weeks. So, it was very much a hands-on approach from the beginning. It was definitely different but with such great clients it was an enjoyable process.” In order to work effectively in this fast-paced manner, Hayden explains that they established upfront a strong design aesthetic and “we then just stayed true and made sure that any decisions matched the original intent.”
In order to work effectively in this fast-paced manner, Hayden explains that they established upfront a strong design aesthetic and “we then just stayed true and made sure that any decisions matched the original intent.”
The kitchen, set to the rear of the home with steel-framed glazing filling the space with natural light, exemplifies this guiding design ethos. Where the original double-storey terrace presented a very grand, dignified identity, a more relaxed, yet elegant contemporary aesthetic and program were introduced to complement and balance the formality of the original home. “The client wanted the house to have a lived-in feel,” Hayden says. Open shelving and a layered material palette in the kitchen create a “casual and relaxed aesthetic. The client didn’t want a minimal, immaculate kitchen that quickly went from pristine to messy the moment it started to be used. Instead, through the layering of different materials, including stone, timber and stainless steel, even when the kitchen is in use it feels lived-in but not untidy.”
With the client interested in exploring some eclectic design elements, a neutral palette became the foundation onto which Baldwin & Bagnall added materials, fixtures and furnishings. While the selected pieces are undoubtedly diverse, the uniting thread is an emphasis on handmade, bespoke qualities and subtle details. Heath explains, “with the warm natural palette as the foundation, the subtleties are in the materials, the joinery and the details. Everything is quite bespoke, such as the tiles, which are handmade, the joinery hardware that we got from the UK and the lighting pieces, which are handmade in New York, Italy and Melbourne. It’s all in the details.”
“We were sketching, presenting and things were being built within weeks. So, it was very much a hands-on approach from the beginning. It was definitely different but with such great clients it was an enjoyable process.”
Each of these elements is carefully considered to harmonise with the design language of the original home, creating a defining sense of balance throughout the new works. The steel-framed doors were selected for their ability to be recognisably contemporary while also evoking the slim profile and leaded windows of the Victorian era. The black steel becomes a motif continued throughout the joinery hardware, Allied Maker lighting and island bench frame. This island, with its black steel frame and substantial slab of marble, becomes more akin to a piece of furniture than a traditional kitchen bench, emphasising the role of the kitchen as a place to gather socially, sharing food and drinks or spilling out onto the adjoining deck overlooking the pool.
With the client having previously lived in larger homes, increasing the efficiency of the spaces also became key to the brief. With the shared kitchen and dining room one of the most heavily used areas of the home, Baldwin & Bagnall needed to design a functional kitchen to work with the scale and proportions of the original terrace. A walk-in pantry and appliances by Fisher & Paykel were key to achieving the ideal kitchen for the clients, who love to cook and entertain. Hayden explains that “there are two 760mm ovens and a generous 900mm induction cooktop combined with a 300mm single wok gas burner, so these guys can cook up a storm. In the pantry, the combi microwave, dishwasher and an extra fridge provide additional functionality.”
With the client interested in exploring some eclectic design elements, a neutral palette became the foundation onto which Baldwin & Bagnall added materials, fixtures and furnishings.
The integration of the appliances was essential to ensure the integrity of the design remained uninterrupted. “Fisher & Paykel work so well in a lot of our projects,” says Heath. “We use the product because it works so well aesthetically.” Baldwin & Bagnall took cues from the proportions of the appliances when designing the kitchen joinery. “We worked on placing the appliances between expressed frames within the cabinetry,” Hayden explains. Heath adds, “integrating the fridge was a really big thing in this house and to get a single door integrated fridge made a big difference in executing the detailed kitchen joinery.” Ultimately, the freedom and flexibility afforded was key to the success of the design, while the clients, who love to cook, “were extremely happy with the selection due to both the aesthetic and the performance of the appliances.”
Both the kitchen and the Annandale House more broadly represented an opportunity for the designers and the client to explore a layered and eclectic design within the walls of the grand old terrace. The new kitchen exemplifies the fact that, while the project finds interest in the creative tension between old and new and between aesthetic points of difference, ultimately, it comes to rest in a balanced sense of equilibrium.