Happy marriage of old and new

By Terry Lobb

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Simplicity in marble bathrooms with extensive use of mirror.
Simplicity in marble bathrooms with extensive use of mirror.

We have recently had a Lobb family reunion in Sydney, which all came about because my brother-in-law, Campbell, was turning 60.

What a great excuse to all get together for dinners and a red-carpet event on the Saturday night with family and friends.

Hamish and I had the pleasure of staying with Campbell's sister-in-law, Emma, and her husband, Bruce, in their beautiful family home in north Sydney overlooking the city and the Harbour Bridge.

Their home was formerly a boarding house with seven bedrooms, built around the turn of the last century and nestled among trees on an elevated section.

From the street, it is an ordinary sort of house, not unlike many in Sydney. Clad in brick and now painted in an earthy grey-brown, the house is on three levels, with street entry on level one taking you to the top level, now a separate flat.

This level also has a four-car garage on a two-car garage footprint. As parking is limited and often off-street parking even more so, the garage has a lift system so two cars sit on top of the other two.

Great use of space.

The second entry from the street is the main house, where you step down into this next level over large sandstone steps.

Indoor-outdoor living is beautifully realised.
Indoor-outdoor living is beautifully realised.


On this level, the house is deceptively large. It's hard to see where the bedrooms and original kitchen and washhouse would have been as many of the rooms have been altered, bathrooms added and parts of the home opened up.

Below this level is another self-contained area with kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms and open plan living, which has been the children's level and their rumpus room.

This contemporary space is where Hamish and I bunked down, with striking views of Sydney's CBD and the bridge through the wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor glass doors. The main level is a mixture of original pressed tin ceilings, leadlight windows and doors, deep skirting boards and scotias along with original fireplaces.

I'm assuming the original structure would have been surrounded by open verandas, as the room that is used as the main bedroom was originally the living room and has beautiful French doors leading outside.

The house has since been altered extensively with the original brick cladding now forming part of the internal walls, adding a lovely textural finish. On sitting in the new extension looking back into the original part of the house, the two periods marry very well together - side by side, traditional with contemporary.

The extension feels like an open veranda with the ceiling heights kept to the same as the original but with the extension ceiling finished in painted tongue and groove, reminiscent of an original old veranda ceiling.

The complete back of the house is made up of huge glass doors and windows, giving the impression of an open veranda, but with the shelter of the glass protecting from the elements. Beyond this is a huge deck looking towards the garden and the city.

Off to the side of the original house is the long, narrow kitchen with great working spaces. This extension has a complete wall of shutters, allowing the morning sun to filter into the space, but also offering privacy from the house next door. Timber flooring has been used extensively, which gives you a sense of warmth underfoot but also keeps the spaces open and uncluttered - it is definitely indoor-outdoor living without venturing outdoors.

Bathrooms are finished with marble floor tiles and simple white wall tiles. They are compact with showers over the bath, hand basin and toilet all combined - simple and practical with mirror cabinets for storage and to help give the illusion that spaces are larger than they are.

The house is simply furnished with antique furniture and modern pieces. The different styles work very well within this stunning traditional contemporary home. Smaller pieces of furniture in the living room are teamed with a leather contemporary three-seater and two-seater, and occasional tables are also tucked away and bought out when required.

I love this idea, especially nest tables - something I grew up with, but with living spaces becoming smaller they are now back in.

If you have anything you would like to contribute or you'd like to contact me, go to terry@terrylobb.com

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