Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Jackson-Sutton Residence

The transformation of the Harbour Masters house, built by convicts in 1832, commenced with a briefing centred on a Farrow & Ball fan deck. Our clients, who clearly had a passion for bold colour, sought to invigorate their home with a selection of modern and antique furniture and a brave attitude to colour.


For the living room, which was dark with low ceilings, we custom made a striking ceiling light ‘artwork’, inspired by French artist Guy de Cointet. Breathing light and life into this otherwise traditional room, a full-gloss white, floating panel was mounted with mitred cornered, state-of-the-art LED lighting. To accentuate the drama, the walls and ceiling were painted a rich turquoise, with pewter accents and waxed woodwork. These elements combined, create a tension between old and new and give the room a distinctive character, creating an extra-ordinary energy.


The formal dining room was painted to complement the antique furniture, destined for that room, as well as the inherent characteristics of the room itself. Here a combination of a ‘glowing coals red’ on the walls with ‘pea green’ on the ceiling and metallic gold detailing creates a warm and sophisticated room that beautifully balances its rich mahogany furniture. This method of working plays to one of our key design approaches, which is to ‘ask the room what it wants to be?’. You can read more about this in our Working With Heritage conversation here.


One of our design challenges was to make a happy space, in a windowless room destined to become the kitchen and centre of the home. The existing staircase, repainted a lively apple green that was discovered in scraping back the layers of paint, was then complemented to great effect with matt teal paint on the timber-clad walls and ceiling. Illumination comes from a simple mitred LED halo, above the benchtop, that mirrors the form of the Corian kitchen island. The result is complex and dynamic, classic and contemporary, vibrant and ordered.


In this small room, off the living room, we discovered wallpaper from the original house that had been covered over for many years. With the assistance of specialist restorers, the intact wallpaper was cleaned and restored and the breaks, cracks and gaps filled with fine render that was painted over to create a smooth surfaced between the wallpaper parts. Simple beige paint was used to complement but not detract from the wall paper. Without a dramatic contrast between the two, this clearly shows the new and old parts of the room in the same way that a re-assembled antique Grecian vase distinguishes its new parts from its old within its original form.


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