Delightful Curves Abound in This Revamped Cottage in Sydney

Delightful Curves Abound in This Revamped Cottage in Sydney

By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
Carter Williamson Architects preserves the heritage facade of a 100-year-old dwelling in Annandale while imbuing the interiors with pastel hues and rounded details.

Set on a tight, five-meter-wide plot in Annandale, an inner suburb of Sydney, the 100-year-old cottage that Carter Williamson Architects was tasked with renovating posed a challenge: The firm needed to maintain the heritage exterior within a row of eight homes from the same era—while giving the interiors ample living space and lots of light. 

The home, named Concrete Blonde, required careful planning, and is organized to utilized every inch of space as it unfolds like an "architectural jewelry box." 

The main challenge for Carter Williamson Architects was creating a generous, light-filled home while maintaining its heritage exterior on a block with eight other homes from the same era.

Carter Williamson left an original arched form in the front entry hall, a shape that repeats throughout the residence.

The homeowners, Irene and Peter, wanted to create a place where they could gather with friends and family, as well as a calm retreat cushioned from street noise.

The firm preserved the heritage front porch, which opens to a hallway lined with original molding and an arched form which now serves as a subtle transition into the updated interiors. The renovated rear portion of the home is connected to the front bedroom and new bathroom via a split staircase leading up to the main bedroom and a studio, and down to the living space. A tiled and plant-filled courtyard divides the dwelling’s public and private spaces, with one side bordering the main living area and the other adding a window to the bathroom and the stairs.

The open-plan living space flows from the step-down entry into the kitchen and dining area straight into the back yard. "These four spaces— outdoor, kitchen, living, and dining—come together as one, creating the heart of the home," explains architect and project lead Ben Peake. Light filters through multiple sources including an arch-shaped void that references the curved form in the front hallway. 

The kitchen features custom timber furniture, Tasmanian oak cabinetry, and custom cabinetry finished in Dulux White Cabbage. The pastel green hue complements the forest-green, leather bench seats and nods to the original kitchen’s former color. 

The kitchen and dining area were designed as a unit with a long, custom dining table that runs parallel to the marble-topped kitchen island. Built-in, green leather bench seating was efficiently designed by the firm as part of the island. Large black sliding glass doors connect the kitchen to the rear courtyard. fully stitching the space together with the outdoors.

The custom table is a collaboration between Carter Williamson and Will Brennan, an Australian furniture designer from Orange, NSW. The bench seating was designed by Carter Williamson and constructed by Kraft Kabinets. The scalloped base is another theme that runs throughout the project. The curvaceous Coco pendant lighting is from Coco Flip. 

The material palette is a light and elegant while providing a mix of textures. There are board-formed concrete ceilings, pale brick walls, natural wood paneling, marble, and terrazzo. The custom-made kitchen cabinetry is finished in Dulux White Cabbage, a light shade of green paint, picking up the greenery of the "native gumtrees swaying in the backyard." Shades of green run playfully throughout the entire home like a recurring theme—a nod to the color of the home’s original kitchen—and a reference to Irene and Peter’s nostalgia for the homes belonging to their extended family in Greece. 

Carrara marble countertops and backsplash add a luxurious feel, as does the dark green leather upholstery on the bench seating which, in a space-saving move, is essentially part of the kitchen island. The Highline linear pendant light is from Archier. 

Full-height, black sliding glass doors connect the interior spaces to the rear courtyard and enable indoor/outdoor living. 

Sustainability and attention to waste reduction was also a priority for both the homeowners and the firm and helped influence the material palette. The use of concrete, marble, and brickwork allows the home to regulate its temperature throughout the hot summer months, trapping cool air inside the home; during the winter months, warm air stays within in the home. "Build it once, build it right" is a notion that sums up the ethos of the project, and the conscious use of robust, quality materials ensures that the century-old house will stand another hundred years. 

Terrazzo flooring and a board-formed concrete ceiling add texture, while full-height cabinetry accented with bespoke, round wood handles provides plenty of hidden storage. 

A curved slot above the living room is designed to grab the northern light and pull it all the way down through the home. The arched shape references the original shape of the hallway walls. "We used this form in a few areas: bathroom enclosures, bathroom windows, and this skylight," explains Ben Peake, an associate at the firm. "The concave [scalloped] form is also seen in the wainscotting, and the dining room table and the coffee table legs." 

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There are many textures at play in the living room—the board-formed concrete ceiling, the light brick wall, wood paneling, and the terrazzo floors. "The texture of the timber is reflected in the concrete," says Peake. The lightwell adds an additional internal light source and another spot to insert greenery. The Vibia Palma wall sconce from Koda Lighting is affixed to the wall over the sofa.

The curved void sits above the living space, filtering light from a high window deep into the plan. "We often use skylights and voids to deal with the challenges of planning and less than ideal orientations," explains the firm. 

This photo was taken looking directly up the skylight into the clerestory window above and shows the northern light hitting the wall and reflecting down to the lower level. 

The spacious main bathroom (a former bedroom), joins marble, brass, and green elements. It is innovative for its use of "micro-spaces" that are subdivided and contained within the scalloping of the rear wall. They are meant to make each element feel special and separate, dividing a large room into smaller spaces that "hug you as you use them."

The brass fixtures are from Gessie’s GOCCIA series. Brass borders add "a sharp edge to the tiled, curved spaces." The scalloping appears in this space on a large deconstructed scale as well as in the curved detail of the floating vanity.  

The master bedroom features a scalloped, light green headboard lined in Porta timber moldings. 

The staircase leads to the upper level and features lighting from Flos. 

The second bathroom features a vanity with similar detailing.  

Clerestory windows bring light and some greenery into the space. 

The living space flows outdoors.

Concrete Blonde floor plan

Concrete Blonde cross section

More by Carter Williamson Architects:

A Dark Sydney Home Finds Light With a Unifying Expansion

An Australian Family Kicks Back in a California-Inspired Pool Pavilion

Before & After: A Partitioned Bed-and-Breakfast in Sydney Is Now a Gracefully Unified Home

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Carter Williamson Architects / @carterwilliamson_architects
Builder/General Contractor: Andrew Burton Construction
Structural Engineer: Cardno, Cosmo Farrinola
Landscape Design: Melissa Wilson, Landscape Architect
Interior Design: Carter Williamson
Cabinetry Design/Installation: Craft Kabinets
Furniture Maker: Will Brennan Designs

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