When you’re renovating a 60-plus-year-old cottage, it’s handy to have homeowners who appreciate a little history. And Mark Szczerbicki, principal of Mark Szczerbicki Design Studio in Sydney, Australia, couldn’t have asked for better collaborators than Rose and Ben.
It was Szcerbicki who transformed the 1,500-square-foot bungalow into a warm, modern dream home without sacrificing the building’s historic character. But the vintage furniture and beautiful accents—a handcrafted teapot, a chunk of aged coral—are the additions of his clients.
The creative couple—she’s a ceramicist, he’s a musician—have a knack for treasure hunting, whether on their travels or at antique shops. And with both this unique home and the objects d’art they fill it with, they celebrate craftsmanship and character wholeheartedly.
Szczerbicki kept most of the existing cottage intact (including the charming front facade), with just the addition of a new living area. Really, the one-bedroom house was already the perfect scale for Rose and Ben—it just needed a little rejigging.
"It wasn’t about maximizing the size of the house," says Szczerbicki. "It was just about creating spaces for them to be together and apart."
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There would also need to be accommodations for the couple’s dalmatians, Lottie and Louie. "Things had to be pretty robust," laughs the architect. Luckily, the hardy materials used here also happen to be beautiful. A polished concrete floor reveals natural terrazzo speckling (coincidentally echoing the dogs’ spots).
That’s not to say there aren’t moments of design indulgence, but they’re focused around the materials that Rose and Ben are drawn most to. Custom ceramic tiles from Anchor, for example, line the coffee counter: Rose works at a local coffee roaster, so the morning ritual of brewing a cuppa is a special one. Her own ceramic handiwork lines the shelves here: handmade mugs and pour-over coffee drippers.
The finished renovation is a home that feels just right, and draws you in to explore the treasure troves and thoughtful architectural moments. Walk in past the quirky little rooms at the front door, and the floor plan opens up to the shared living and kitchen space. Sixteen-foot-tall ceilings create space for oversized windows, with view to the rest of the neighborhood.
After work every day, Ben and Rose find themselves sitting in a little nook at the back of the kitchen with a just-so view of the Jacaranda tree next door, which blooms each spring. "They’ll just sit on their rocking chairs and watch the tree," says Szczerbicki. "It’s better than a TV."
Structural Engineer: Cardno
Civil Engineer: United Consulting Engineers
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