After spending most of their 39 years of marriage overseas, Robyn and Russ Bellis were ready to return to Sydney and find their forever home.
Purchasing a federation house in Killara, they immediately fell in love with its period features; think pressed metal ceilings, transom windows above the doors, servant bells and a wrap-around front verandah. However, it couldn’t be denied it was in need of an update.
[contextly_sidebar id=”m5nu9U2Bq5UjZ5JLaNrV5O03fDJhlpg1″]So, enlisting the help of Bjil Architecture and Stuart Wilson Constructions (coincidently the same people who renovated my family home) the house underwent a massive two-year overhaul. “The renovations comprised of a new kitchen/pantry, TV room, garden room, covered patio, bathroom, sewing room, gym and ensuite and walk in wardrobe off the master bedroom,” explains Robyn. “The house had originally sat to one side of the block so we were able to add on across the back and at the side keeping all the living on then one level and then excavating down for the workshop, garages and wine cellar.”
With the renovations keeping to the Federation style, the mouldings, picture rails and pressed ceilings were kept throughout, but with the addition of modern conveniences such as open plan living, the gym, the wine cellar and Robyn’s favourite space, the garden room. “It is a favourite with its glass bi-fold windows and doors, a six metre high brick wall and large architectural wooden trusses. After having a conservatory in Wimbledon, where we lived for 10 years, we wanted a room with lots of light overlooking the garden and pool.”
Working closely with Bijl Architecture on designing the house to fit their needs, it was immensely important that Robyn’s many collections were housed for all to see. “I have collected for many years from all parts of the world and have collections of antique needlework samplers, sewing accessories, maps, scales and boxes. So when renovating the house we made sure there were enough shelves and glass door cabinets for display purposes.”
As a regular at auctions, antique and flea markets, the home is unsurprisingly full of many unique treasures. “I think one of my favourite pieces is a Regency (1820) sewing box with all the fittings including Bessey’s silk from 1825. This came from a large country house near Billinghurst, West Sussex. Also a friend introduced us to antique maps which came from old atlases and bibles, some of which are over 350 years old, printed from hand carved copper plates and hand coloured.” All these additions make the home spectacular, and truly, on-of-a-kind!
Photography by Peter Bennetts