UP, UP AND AWAY!

The new year has brought with it new construction, and we couldn't be more excited to get our Wentworth Street project underway! 

With a growing family, our lovely client's terrace cottage was bursting at the seams and there was only one solution . . .  to go up! 

The new design presented us with some challenges, namely making a seamless transition from old to new with the incorporation of a new staircase, whilst blending classic cottage chic with modern minimalist. But our greatest challenge has been making efficient use of both the existing and new floorplans.

  Week 1: The roof was demolished to make way for the new structure.

Week 1: The roof was demolished to make way for the new structure.

A key element to the design is the new staircase that will connect the ground floor with the new first floor addition. Double height glazing and the introduction of a skylight will flood the stairs and atrium with much-desired natural light. Double height drapes will soften the glazing and create a sense of drama.

  The existing guest room being transformed into the new staircase.

The existing guest room being transformed into the new staircase.

The kitchen is also getting a mini makeover to include an appliance cupboard to maximise functionality whilst achieving the modern minimalist look we are after. The door and drawer fronts will be replaced with those of a fresher, more contemporary profile, however the striking Calacatta marble will remain as a timeless feature of the kitchen design. 

  The kitchen before . . .

The kitchen before . . .

  The kitchen now . . . mid-demolition!

The kitchen now . . . mid-demolition!

When blending two styles it is important to keep (at least) one element or finish consistent across spaces to achieve cohesiveness throughout. In this instance we chose timber; the natural grain adding warmth as well as a subtle texture. We have custom designed timber louvres to feature at the rear facade which are as beautiful as they are practical. Timber fins will also feature at the atrium glazing to provide screening and add interest as you wind up and down the new staircase.

  The builders  uncovered some original construction sketches hidden behind a gyprock panel. 

The builders uncovered some original construction sketches hidden behind a gyprock panel. 

Flexible spaces are key to making the most of any floorplan, especially when you have many items to tick off the wish list! We have incorporated a little study nook in the staircase joinery, so that household files have a considered place to live, and laptops have a place to re-charge. The open plan kitchen/living/dining provides great flexibility already, but will be further enhanced once the rear elevation opens to reveal a courtyard oasis by landscape designer Myles Baldwin.

Now that #WentworthStreet has quite literally been ripped apart, we can't wait to put it back together again and add our AKD sparkle! 

All images via ©Alexandra Kidd Design

Q&A WITH ROBYN COSGROVE: REIGN OF RUGS

The name Robyn Cosgrove is synonymous with style and of course the most beautiful rugs. It is always a pleasure to sit down with Robyn and have a play with colours and textures . . . possessing the most beautiful eye for colour, we have been able to create some truly wonderful rugs for our clients. 

We are so grateful to Robyn for sharing her inspiring story with us, especially as we are reminded of the way the design industry has changed over the years in relation to opportunities for women, as it has in many industries, even if we still have a way to go! 

A fabulous designer, entrepreneur, businesswoman and proud grandmother, we hope you enjoy our chat with Robyn as much as we did.

What did you want to be growing up? 

Growing up in the 1940s and 50s the world was a very, very, very different place (goodness me, am I that old?). Work choices for women were totally non-existent and never really given any thought, although I guess I had dreams of becoming an art teacher, as teaching seemed to be acceptable for girls and I had always been imaginatively creative.

For a short while I studied textile and design at a time when there was nothing in Australia that recognised or connected us with the wonderful creative and distinctive interior design work coming out of America or Britain, which I so loved and admired. I relied entirely on my subscriptions to overseas interior design magazines (costing me a small fortune at the time!) and I believe the valuable inspiration and knowledge I gleaned and absorbed from these magazines set me off on a path of wanting to create my own individual style here in Australia in some form or another. That is when Robyn Cosgrove Rugs was born.

What's the best life lesson you have learnt along the way? 

I have learned a few lessons in my time! To always be consistent in individuality and creativity. To keep a handle on and recognise design movements, as well as ensuring designs and palettes are kept updated. Don’t ever look over your shoulder and compare yourself with competitors. But most importantly – create quality – in everything, always.

What is your proudest achievement?

I have seven beautiful grandchildren. How lucky and proud am I!

Who inspires you? 

I have to say when I visit Nepal I am totally in awe and in admiration of my weavers. They are the happiest and most content women who always greet me with such love and pride to be weaving Robyn Cosgrove designs. Actually, they make me quite ashamedly aware of the simple, unprivileged and hard life they endure with dignity and always with a smile.

What is your biggest vice?

This would have to be when I get a bee in my bonnet and create some mad design with a really mad palette! It really is a very silly of me as Australians are basically conservative so naturally these inventions never find a home!

Do you follow trends or are you a trendsetter? 

It’s hard to be a trendsetter in Australia as we are now connected to the world, so I like to think I am a trendsetter of QUALITY.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? 

Mmmmm . . . that the Robyn Cosgrove Rugs brand keeps on keeping on . . . forever . . . !

What do you love about working with AKD? 

Working with Alexandra Kidd Design is always a dream. They have a definite handle on good design and their projects are always imaginatively inspiring. We are always able to connect positively with their individual project specifications and work hard to achieve their goals in the rugs they specify. Our collaborations are always without pressure and their relaxed, friendly and creative artistic skill always make us aware of how talented their studio is.

All images via ©Robyn Cosgrove

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

With the opening of the new Special Care Nursery at North Sydney’s Mater Hospital only weeks away, today I had a rare spare moment to pause and reflect on this project, which has been a work in progress for almost 18 months.

This was always more than a design job. It was a labour of love from the very beginning, as we took on this project within weeks of Alex giving birth to her first baby at this very hospital. Serendipitously, I fell pregnant halfway through the project and suddenly my own involvement took on much more meaning as my personal journey began to parallel that of my work. I had the chance to experience the overwhelming emotions of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, and feel blessed every day that my baby girl was born healthy and happy in January this year. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I could not have taken her home with me the day I was discharged from hospital.  

  Work in progress and concept research

Work in progress and concept research

The Friends of The Mater Foundation have generously funded the Special Care Nursery, allowing our vision of creating the most perfectly nurturing, reassuring and encouraging space for parents experiencing deep emotions and facing unimaginable stress, come to life.

Since it’s conception we wanted to create a truly unique space that offered a sense of comfort and protection, which is why we invited French illustrator Catherine Cordasco to join us on our journey.

   
  
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   Catherine Cordasco is a surface pattern illustrator. She uses watercolours to create emotion and graphic life through her images and artistic application.

Catherine Cordasco is a surface pattern illustrator. She uses watercolours to create emotion and graphic life through her images and artistic application.

Her mature yet innocent watercolours struck an emotional chord in all of us. In collaboration with Catherine we developed an exclusive identity for the Special Care Nursery, literally illustrating the nurturing environment we had envisaged, yet all the while remaining visually efficient and practical for staff and visitors alike. 

   
  
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   The new floor being laid out.

The new floor being laid out.

The Special Care Nursery project became our AKD ‘baby’ and we can't wait to see it come to life in a few short weeks and continue to grow, develop and nurture the babies and parents as we intended, until they are strong enough to spread their wings and fly . . .

And whilst we can’t reveal the interior design until the official launch on 1 June, we feel like proud new parents to be able to show off these sneak peek behind the scenes images.

   
  
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   A glimpse of a ‘nest’ nearing completion.

A glimpse of a ‘nest’ nearing completion.

   
  
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   Alex documenting construction and the reception desk being installed.

Alex documenting construction and the reception desk being installed.

Image 2 via Catherine Cordasco / All other images via ©Alexandra Kidd Design