A house in Sydney full of colors and ornaments

Behind the modest snow-white facades of this mansion, bright interiors are hidden, created by the hostess of the house Claire with the help of Anna Spiro Design


A small (83m2) house in Sydney hides behind greenery on one of the streets of Sydney. The building was built in 1905, and for more than a century the house changed several owners, until new owners moved into it — Claire and her eight-year-old daughter Betty. They chose this area in the north of the city because of its proximity to the sea.

Claire was deliberately looking for a small cottage, she did not want to buy a large mansion, which would be difficult to take care of and maintain order. Although this house needed renovation, the new owner felt love at first sight as soon as she saw it. “Even though it looked dilapidated and needed repair, I immediately decided that I could fix its shortcomings without major restructuring,” explains Claire.


The rooms really had dull, dark walls and floors, the appearance of which the hostess decided to correct with the help of bright colors. She turned to the Anna Spiro Design team for help. “Claire loves art and ornaments, she knew exactly what she wanted to add colors to the interiors, but she wasn’t sure she could handle it herself. She wanted to create a space that was sophisticated, feminine and inspiring, but at the same time comfortable,” recalls interior designer Penny Sheehan.

The color game starts right from the street: the gate and the front door are painted with a sunny yellow shade of Midas from Dulux.

“I didn’t want to use neutral beige as a basis, I needed bright, positive shades,” says Claire. “We laid natural sisal floors in all rooms, this balanced the color scheme of ornamental upholstery and bright colors,” adds designer Penny Sheehan. In the photo, Claire is sitting in her daughter’s bedroom on a bench trimmed with Somerville fabric from Warwick, with a vintage quilt. Barbro wallpaper by Cathy Nordström is combined with a shade of Jodfur Blue by Porter’s Paints on the platbands.


The walls of the living room are painted with a soft shade of green Water Nymph from Porter’s Paints, the doors are painted with gray—blue Wink from Dulux. Claire likes the abundance of color in the rooms and the way “walls, art objects, furniture and books are combined together, creating a space in which you feel comfortable.” The house contains only those things that she loves: “I removed everything I wasn’t sure about and focused on quality. Everything was strictly selected, including even the pots and ladles in the kitchen.”


“At first I was thinking of changing the floor plan to make three or four bedrooms, but I like large rooms,” says Claire. In her bedroom, the Adlington wallpaper by Lee Jofa creates a romantic backdrop for the headboard upholstered in Somerville fabric by Warwick. A pair of Milling Lane lamps with raffia shades and a vintage patchwork quilt emphasize the bright nature of the hostess.


For the living room, they chose a combination of shades of greenery, cornflowers and calendula, against which the floral upholstery of the chairs, lampshades and patterned pillows look good. The spacious shelves in the living room are a special love of Claire, who adores books. An inconspicuous Samsung Frame series TV is attached to the bookshelves, which disguises itself as a still life, displaying paintings by Claire’s favorite artists on the screen. Over Claire’s old sofa hangs a painting by Carmel Debre in sunny colors. The wooden armchair is covered with vintage upholstery from Kit Kemp Book End fabric, and the coffee table is upholstered with Nihi fabric from Anna Spiro Textiles.


A pair of armchairs are upholstered in Magnolia fabric from GP & J Baker — a motif that defined the palette of the house. The floral pattern contrasts with the linen pillows of British designers Parker & Jules.


In the center of the dining area there is an old French walnut table (purchased at auction by the designers of the project). Next to it is a custom—made banquette and a rattan family chair. The kitchen furniture was left old, only the walls were repainted, choosing a pale shade of pink Dulux Ellen Half.


“I don’t like bare and empty spaces with angular furniture. I like interiors that are comfortable and tell you something about a person or about this place. And I feel like that’s what’s in my house,” says Claire.

Elena Igumnova

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