Cronulla, NSW, Australia
From The Designer
In September 2013, Amber Road was featured in a Vogue Living article featuring young emerging designers. It was in fact the trousers Yasmine sported in the photo that accompanied the article which landed us our dream clients. A day after VL’s issue hit the stands; we received a phone call from the ‘then potential client’, asking where she might find herself the very same pair of pants and, in turn, whether we would be able to provide design services for their home! From such an unexpected and humorous introduction grew an honest and fluid working relationship with our client that enabled us to work with them to realise the ‘vision’ we had for their home.
Over the 8 month span of the project, our brief expanded from sourcing furniture for all rooms of the 3 bedroom waterfront property located in Cronulla NSW, to internal building works, customised joinery, selection and procurement of artwork and landscape works.
Although the modest weatherboard cottage had had an extensive external facelift 2 years prior, the internal spaces were crying out for attention. In keeping with the client’s brief ….’to keep it as unpretentious and simple as possible’, we looked to a Japanese design aesthetic known as ‘Wabi Sabi’ ; which champions a simple, slow and uncluttered approach. “A warm minimalism that celebrates the human effect rather than the machine made or mass produced” [Amanda Talbot of Rethink: The Way You Live”]
Our major design intervention, beyond our original brief was the design and installation of a 10 meter long floating concrete bench, to bridge the two living areas on the upper decks of the residence. Perched above this bench, we worked closely with Sydney joiners Evostyle, to custom designed a 1.8m wide American Oak sliding panel, edged in bronze, which cleverly hid the TV when not in use. When open, the sliding panel sat comfortably on the opposite of the room as if a piece of art in itself.
Additional joinery included an entry bench in wire brushed American Oak, stained black, with the same bronze edge detail found in the sliding timber panel. Both children’s bedrooms lacked storage, so, in addition to the desks we designed for each child, we custom designed full height cupboards which combined birch ply and cork sliding panels that allowed for generous, integrated pin up space. The original downstairs master bedroom, a former garage with low ceilings, was very uninviting and our most challenging space to work with. To introduce some warmth, birch ply paneling was fixed to the walls of half of the room. We also designed a beautiful credenza in ebony wire brushed American Oak on brass feet for additional storage in the bathroom as well as a sister bench to that designed for the front entry.
Although the client was originally opposed to the idea of artworks, we saw otherwise, and went out of our way to hand selected and procured a range of pieces we believed would complement the spaces and add a further level of intimacy.
- a body of photography by Sydney based, Frenchie, [the same photographer which had taken our profile picture featured in Vogue Living!] which included both landscapes and quirky female portraits
- a subtle, sensuous metal sculpture of a reclining nude hung above the entry ledge which we had commissioned by a sculptor based in Byron Bay called Dominque Sutton,
- two photographic works that we had printed on linen by Sydney based photographer Juliet Taylor [Pool Collective],
- photo details in both the childrens’ rooms, one by Sydney based [a neighbor at our creative nest Australia Street Studios] Cole Bennetts and the other by local photographer Prue Stent.
Furthermore, to address one of the client’s major concerns, light reflection [or lack thereof] by collaborating with paint colour artist, Sonia van De Haar of Lymesmith, whom created a refined yet transformational colour palette comprising of warm grays, bright whites and rich blacks to help combat the inherently ‘boxy’ nature of the space. Instead of running the paint all the way up to the ceiling, blocks of colors stopped short of the ceiling and were rounded at the corners. Interesting patterns found in the floor rugs were meticulously replicated onto walls to ensure the ‘hand crafted / manmade’ elements remained.
‘Green’ injections included the installation of plants to the double volume outlook from the house’s major stairwell [connecting the upper and lower decks] and the upstairs bathroom. To create volume without blocking light, as well as providing seasonal change, two stately Japanese maple trees were selected and set amongst swathes of three types of native + ornamental grasses, chosen for their varying textures and colours. Additionally, an assortment of sculptural plants and pots were also hand-picked and grouped at the entry and on the deck adjoining the living spaces. Outdoor furniture by Melbourne based Tait were also introduced to bring family life outdoors.
As mentioned previously, the clients were minimalists at heart, so rather than cluttering the space, iconic furniture pieces were chosen for their sculptural qualities, beautiful shapes and impeccable craftsmanship. Familiar pieces included the ‘Butterfly Chair’ by Pierre Paulin and ‘The Spanish Chair’ by Serge Mogensen which we combined with local furniture makers such as Jardan, Henry Wilson and Tom Skeehan. To bring ensure the ‘makers touch’ was still visible, thick, texture, hand- made wool benis from Kulchi and bright floor rugs from Pampa were scattered throughout.