Dana recently suggested I write about this renovation by my own workplace, Chamberlain Javens Architects (CJA) in association with Kerry Phelan Design Office (KPDO). I was super chuffed to hear that she loved the house and wanted me to share it here on yellowtrace. Whlist I didn’t work on this personally, it’s a pleasure to share something from the team.

I was fortunate enough to see the completed house in the flesh and, let me tell you, it took hours to tear myself away. The series of interconnected spaces don’t reveal themselves all at once, meaning the walk through was filled with moments of surprise and discovery. Call me biased but the detailing is immaculate and the multi textured material palette is simply delicious. I’m half tempted to steal the client’s keys and claim it as mine.

Enough from me. Here are some words from CJA director, Stephen Javens.




+ What was your design inspiration for this project?

I think our main inspiration was the decision to retain the existing art deco era home. The default position at the moment seems to be demolition! But we thought the existing house had a beautiful calm feeling, which we wanted to preserve. So, our aim was to explore forms and materials that enhanced the existing architecture. We restored the existing rendered facade and then added new works in pale brickwork in a matching colour, to provide a textural differentiation between new and old.


The approach with the interiors was to create a series of interconnected rooms, with joinery defining the spaces. Houses of this era typically had beautifully crafted individual furniture items, rather than built in joinery. Our aim was to create finely crafted and very individual pieces.



+ Your favorite thing about this project?

I think the quality of light in the house is absolutely beautiful. The home is situated directly opposite the bay, so the light is constantly changing throughout the day and from season to season. The house has been planned so each room has a view to the horizon.


+ Most challenging aspect?

The most challenging aspect was the restoration of the existing building. The home is located right on the bay, so it has been exposed to severe weather for the past 80 years. The bricks and mortar were crumbling, the steel was rusty and all the window frames leaked. It would have been much easier to demolish the existing structure and start again, but I think that would have been a shame.

We try, wherever possible, to work with existing buildings. Once they are gone, they’re gone forever. It feels like these old buildings have a personality, and we like to respect that.


+ What did you learn during the project?

This project reinforced the importance of the designers constantly being on site throughout the construction process, especially when working with old buildings. Walls and floors are usually out of alignment, and with the sort of work we like to do, if things don’t line up…it’s a bit like throwing a pebble in a pond.


+ Any interesting/ funny/ quirky facts you could share with us?

During the demolition process we revealed the previously unknown history of the house. We thought we were dealing with an art deco era home, but in actual fact, during the demolition we revealed multiple layers, from the 1980s to the 1880’s, so in actual fact there was an 80’s renovation to a 70’s refurbishment of a 30’s rebuilding of an Edwardian reimagining of a Victorian townhouse. Confusing! So we have now added a 21st Century chapter to the story.

[Photos © Derek Swalwell, courtesy of Chamberlain Javens Architects].

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

13 Responses

  1. Gill

    STUNNING!!!!! Best interior job I have seen for a long time time. These lucky people are living in my dream house.

  2. Anna

    I’m really into the desk-in-shelving thing. It makes a lot of sense to use the vertical space above a desk for storing things you use at your desk, and especially if the desk isn’t where you work full time, if it is just your home desk, you don’t need a huge desk in it’s own room, it works really well to have one integrated into a storage unit.

    I’ve tried to do the same thing myself with an otherwise leftover Stolmen unit from Ikea, it works quite well, though it is not a patch on the beautiful timber joinery in this house. Lovely.

    I was amused by the desk/shelves in Andrew Maynard’s office.

  3. Anne-Claire

    What an amazing façade! Always makes me feel happy when architects save these wonderful buildings. Love the window frames/door/staircase… Great joinery details too. My style… very much.

  4. Ezabelle

    I Especially love the referencing of the art deco period of the building, in various areas (lighting, bathroom mirror, balustrades…) Marble, timber and black, with simple geometry in all the right places- so well resolved.
    And It’s clear there was a lot of love and patience from all involved (architect, designer, client, builder). Well done!

  5. Hélène

    Woooaw this project is amazing! Love the chandelier (used in one of my project too).
    I have a question, I love the Elizabeth’s queen picture with the Marimekko (I think) background.
    Coul you tell me the name of the photographer?
    Thanks a lot!


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