Restrained, subdued classicism is what springs to mind upon arriving at this Shorncliffe residence. The exterior of the freshly revamped property (a renovation lead by architect Rebekah Hurworth from Your Architects) is coated in crisp grey and white, the heritage-inspired lines and tailored landscaping reminiscent of a glorious Hamptons hideaway. However, it’s a completely different story upon entering… vibrant splashes of colour, mesmerising artworks and lashings of bold pattern combine to produce a buzzing interior, each room as adventurous and surprising as the last.
The home’s main living area, situated on the second of the three storeys, is a blend of deep jewel tones, striking patterns and eye catching anchor pieces; definitely a far cry from the neutral simplicity one expects from the street. Each piece of bold furniture was custom-designed by principal interior designer John Croft of John Croft Design, who was assisted on this project by fellow designer Lloyd Hodgkinson. The colourful, textural fabrics from Designers Guild and Sanderson not only inject the large-scale living zone with warmth and personality, but were selected for their camouflaging properties, particularly relevant for a family with two young children. “The custom-designed rug was chosen for its large, generous pattern,” says John.
“It’s ideal in a high traffic area like this, plus the the deep aubergine is needed to pull back the energy of the other textiles.” The large glossy original artwork by Jonathan Bryant titled Breakfast in Jamaica is a strident addition above the grand piano, whilst an original marble sculpture by artist Zygmunt Libucha is a work in form and restraint on the console table. The room was initially modelled around the grand modern chandelier suspended above the dining table, the first piece John purchased for the home.
“The lighting has a classic form but with a contemporary twist, which the clients love,” says John. “It’s representative of the house as a whole.” The home’s neutral shell, offset by stretches of stunning hand-finished French Oak flooring from Northern Suburbs Timber Flooring, is the perfect blank canvas for the riot of colour; a timeless foundation which can carry an evolving aesthetic over time.
The same eclectic layering is echoed throughout the rest of the home, one of the main hallways crossing the globe into European territory; two gilded decorative urns, topiary figurines, a traditional marble bust and soaring oil painting are reminiscent of pieces found within a classical manor. “I wanted something big and dramatic,” says John. “Over-scaled drama which also referenced the home’s traditional exterior.” Every trinket and finishing touch found throughout the home was sourced by John, who is always on the lookout for unique and individual objet d’art. “I’m always shopping for accessories,” says John. “If I don’t follow my gut and buy them, I regret it later – they will always fit a job!” “At the end of each project I will accessorise a home with accessories and let the clients live with them for a week,” he says. “They can then take away any pieces they don’t like, plus it gives them the chance to see things in the flesh and in their intended location. “People often wouldn’t warm to accessories they see in a store, but love them once they’re in their home.”
The master bedroom is one of the more subdued spaces in the home, John and Lloyd aiming to create a sanctuary for its busy owners. “I immediately dropped the intensity down,” says John. “Busy, pressured people just don’t need the same stimulation in the bedroom.” The monochrome set of artworks above the bed are original Picasso etchings purchased in Spain, the scale and simplicity of the design bringing visual balance to the intricate pattern of the side tables. Expertly layered pops of pattern jump between fine and intricate florals to thick, textural embroideries, all anchored by large classic furniture pieces and a neutral base of colours.
A rainbow of colour makes its second appearance in the downstairs billiards room, the ultimate entertaining zone. A spacious kitchen, lounge zone and games area are backed by an opulent media room featuring dark, moody colours and walls swathed in thick, textural fabric. The billiards room’s sleek gas fireplace sits below a charcoal feature wall, fixed with a collection of white ceramic faces which are a fun and fearless addition to the space. More sturdy custom-designed furniture and a colourful customised rug keep the room bright yet functional, accent pieces like the wooden coffee table and glass-topped ‘star’ side table quietly referencing the retro era. The home’s two guest rooms are once again a celebration in colour, but subdued by a darker base. In one of the rooms, white washed wooden furniture which was taken from the owners’ previous home sits atop a tactile charcoal rug, the accents of deep fuchsia and citrus green popping against the plain dark base. Deliciously decadent velvet and a thick plush bed beckon visitors, whilst the soaring built-in wardrobe is a luxuriously practical addition.
Wander upstairs to the third floor and you’ll find yourself within the owner’s private library cum study, a masculine space which houses memorabilia and cherished books modelled around the room’s hero piece – a panelled wooden desk which the owner wrote on as a child when it belonged to his grandfather. Classical urns and sculptural figurines adorn various surfaces, while cushy leather armchairs and vintage trunks are integral pieces which add character and warmth. The room’s collection of serene artworks include a number of original paintings by the owner’s mother. John observed that the pieces weren’t particularly impactful by themselves but when combined with similar works John purchased, created a compelling and complete collection.
“Everything looks better in a collection,” says John. “Whether it’s similar artworks, sculptures or a grouping of vintage egg whisks you have collected, a group of items has incredible impact.” And just like the various ‘impactful’ collections throughout, this Shorncliffe home is yet another success story to add to John Croft Design’s own growing collection of vibrant, daring houses which expertly balance punchy colour and pattern with sentiment.
Photography by John Downs.
As seen in Queensland Homes spring 2014.