A savvy husband and wife real estate agent and interior decorator duo picked the street before they picked this home. And although they planned to flip it, once they started renovating, they soon knew it was going to become their forever family home.
“We picked the street before we picked the house, after inspecting a house for sale in a nearby street,” says Amanda Smythe. “We liked the feel of this street so my husband called on some real estate contacts to see how often homes came on the market. They told him that one had been on the market for nine months and not sold and that if we knocked on the door the owner might be receptive.
“We looked and whilst it was very dated (think original California bungalow at the front with a nineties extension at the back) I knew I could do something exceptional with it. It is elevated, north-facing, and flooded with light. After a previous buyer resurfaced and a bidding war ensued, the house was ours.”
It was easy to see why the home on Sydney’s popular Lower North Shore had stayed on the market for so long with its dark timber, blue walls, floral curtains, and a large previous reno, which wasn’t appealing to today’s buyers.
“It also had no parking and the main bathroom (that all five of us used for five years) is now the powder room,” said Amanda, who has three children aged eight to 16.
“Our initial thoughts were that we would renovate and flip it in a relatively short period of time. However, over the five years we ended up living in it pre-renovation, we fell in love with the block, the street and the area.
“It’s a leafy cul-de-sac where everyone knows each other, we are in and out of each other’s houses and the kids are best friends and spend their weekends running from house to house. So, by the time we were ready to undertake the reno, we knew we were going nowhere!”
Only one room in the house remained structurally untouched in the 18-month renovation project. The couple drew on their extensive knowledge of property and decorating when choosing the finishes.
Amanda adds: “We knew we wanted a classic style that would stand the test of time, that was slightly coastal in feel (though no shells in sight); what I like to call contemporary Australian coastal. Drawing on light timbers (engineered oak floors), white walls and natural textures to complete the look and feel of a laidback, airy abode.
“It also had to be practical and hardwearing for a busy family of five. I implemented the advice I often give to my clients, in that you can have a beautiful house with young children that is still functional and liveable.”
They wanted the house to reflect their taste and style with light colours and natural textures, and, in an increasingly technology-driven world, they wanted a large focus on nature within the house as well as outside.
“We wanted the feel to be light and airy and provide as much as exposure to nature as possible. This can be seen especially at the updated rear of the house, which is north-facing, with floor to ceiling windows that look out onto an elevated leafy district view and receive an abundance of natural light all day long. We also invested in the highest quality double glazed glass for improved energy consumption, requiring less heating and cooling.”
There are plenty of open spaces so the family can enjoy the outdoors without being in the backyard all the time, and the transition between indoor and outdoor living is seamless, with them doing plenty of entertaining during the summer months.
“What other buyers saw as old and tired and too much hard work was my inspiration, ” Amanda says. “The result is a contemporary Australian family home that is much loved and a joy to live in.”