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A colour courageous makeover for a family home in Australia

How a bold renovation brought a 1960s house into the modern era

By Piet Smedy  | February 5, 2022 | Interiors

Like so many houses built in the 1960s, this Australian family home needed the type of renovation that would keep all of its old-world charms, while bringing it firmly into a modern era as a functional and comfortable living space. Cue very clever, and very playful, design. With Sydney-based designers (and sisters) Katy Svalbe and Yasmine Saleh Ghoniem (who would go on to launch YSG Studio) at the helm, the renovation saw large parts of the house reconfigured and redesigned to be more practical in its everyday use.

Photograph: Prue Ruscoe

Among these, the entire rear facade was removed and realigned with the second storey; while the kitchen was moved to the ground floor, where previously it had occupied a part of the second storey. In place of the old kitchen, a third guest bedroom was built, along with a loft, study and an en suite.

Photograph: Prue Ruscoe

Reminiscent of the 1960s, new outdoor slate paving was laid down around the house, and was then extended inside, as far back as the kitchen, quite literally doing away with the idea of space separation so that with the large glass doors open, the living, dining and outdoor areas become one cohesive space.

Photograph: Prue Ruscoe

Architectural changes aside, colour is the real star of this home and what makes it interesting and playful. The original exposed red brickwork both inside and outside the house served as the base on which complementary and contrasting colours were then introduced. Entire walls and joinery were used to accomplish this colour juxtaposition, with tones of terracotta, yellow-gold and red taking centre stage. The team then introduced the decor, which was carefully chosen to highlight the major colour themes. Saturated and burned-out reds and blues were matched with muted pinks and greens. While it may seem chaotic in theory, the result is surprisingly and exceptionally well-orchestrated interior design.

Photograph: Prue Ruscoe

All of these elements combined, Katie and Yasmine’s final surprise comes in the form of a collaboration with Lymesmith, an Australian design practice that specialises in colour concepts and artworks, to produce two large murals (there is one on the living room wall, wrapped around the fireplace). Like every element in the home, it is fearless and audaciously playful but helps lend itself to the bigger picture: the perfect colour code.

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