Before & After: An Australian Midcentury Home Is Awash With Bold Color and Pattern

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A brick residence by Australian midcentury architects Payne & Hunt gets a new lease on life with patterned wall murals and pops of primary color.

In the beachside Sydney suburb of Cronulla, a split-story, two-bed, two-bath midcentury dwelling is reborn as a vibrant three-bedroom, three-bathroom home with dynamic wall art and interiors that encourage indoor/outdoor living. 

The interior of the Polychrome House pops with color and pattern.

The interior of the Polychrome House pops with color and pattern.

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Interior architect Yasmine Ghoniem of Sydney–based studio Amber Road worked closely with artist and color consultant Sonia van de Haar of Lymesmith, and the home’s owner Harry Kapoulas to renovate the two-level, 2,690-square-foot house in a way that reflects Kapoulas' and his wife's upbeat personalities.

The sturdy brick home was designed by Australian midcentury architects Payne & Hunt.

The sturdy brick home was designed by Australian midcentury architects Payne & Hunt.

The living areas open to an outdoor deck.

The living areas open to an outdoor deck.

The main living areas were originally located on the upper floors, which made these rooms feel disconnected from the property’s established landscape. The design team extended the ground floor, pushing a glazed wall seven feet into the garden so that it aligns with the edge of the existing balcony above. Ghoniem reworked the plan and moved all the communal areas to the ground floor to create a stronger connection to the garden.

Before: The Kitchen

The kitchen before the remodel.

The kitchen before the remodel.

After: The Kitchen

A brick plinth serves as a kitchen island. Below lies an integrated mini bar.

A brick plinth serves as a kitchen island. Below lies an integrated mini bar.

The design team reduced the size of the garage to allow for a larger kitchen.

The design team reduced the size of the garage to allow for a larger kitchen.

Ghoniem relocated the kitchen from the upper level to the ground level. The former kitchen is now a study with an ensuite bathroom and a lofted sleeping area.

Before: The Living/Dining Area

The Kapoulases in the original dining area.

The Kapoulases in the original dining area.

A corner fireplace before the renovation.

A corner fireplace before the renovation.

After: The Living/Dining Area

Energetic artwork replaces the typical entertainment unit found in most living rooms.  

Energetic artwork replaces the typical entertainment unit found in most living rooms.  

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Chinese Black Slate Crazy Pavers provide dramatic contrast to the bold primary colors.

Chinese Black Slate Crazy Pavers provide dramatic contrast to the bold primary colors.

Kapoulas and his wife Boel are avid art lovers who wanted to create a "joyful" abode, so Ghoniem and van de Haar layered bright primary colors throughout. 

Before: The Stairs

The staircase before the renovation.

The staircase before the renovation.

After: The Stairs

Ghoniem recarpeted the stairs.

Ghoniem recarpeted the stairs.

Before: The Master Bedroom

The master bedroom before the renovation.

The master bedroom before the renovation.

After: The Master Bedroom

The redesigned bedroom and ensuite bathroom.

The redesigned bedroom and ensuite bathroom.

After: The Study

A study area with a lofted bed.

A study area with a lofted bed.

Ghoniem and Kapoulas initially thought that the brick interiors felt too heavy, but van de Haar convinced them that the brick would work if complimented with the right color palette, so they paired the existing brick with strong, irregularly shaped Crazy Pavers.

"Most might consider it a clashing palette," says van de Haar, "but we felt it was a true material choice which honored the era to which the house was born." 

The ground floor plan of the Polychrome House.

The ground floor plan of the Polychrome House.

The most outstanding feature of the home is no doubt van de Haar’s eye-catching murals throughout the interiors, which have shapes and lines  loosely inspired by aerial photographs of the surrounding terrain.

"I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a project where all project collaborators played an equal part. Client, designer, and artist were in true symbiosis. I think that’s why the outcome was so fresh; there were no egos involved," says Ghoniem. 

The first floor plan of the Polychrome House.

The first floor plan of the Polychrome House.

Related Reading: Unexpected Bursts of Color Enliven a Midcentury Pad in Australia

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Amber Road / @amberroaddesignLymesmith / @lymesmithy

Builder: Harry Kapoulas 

Structural Engineer: Jones Nicholson Engineers 

Landscape Design: JBL Property Development 

Lighting Design: Amber Road

Cabinetry Design: ITF Cabinet Making and Joinery 

Styling: Alicia Sciberras

Color Palettes and Internal Murals: Lymesmith