When we first got our design hands on Wentworth Street, it was a tired federation cottage, bursting at the seams. More space to accommodate a young family of four was the top priority for our clients, which saw our studio take an architectural approach to the renovation.


In a bid to better serve the family’s long-term needs, we introduced a first floor and restructured the floorplan, optimising the original living zones and providing plenty of room for retreat. Limited to strict council regulations that opposed a faux-federation addition, we opted for contemporary architecture in stark contrast to the original build.


This serendipitous juxtaposition between federation and contemporary set the tone for the rest of the renovation. Embracing the narrative of old and new, we preserved the integrity of the original build by avoiding imitation, instead, introducing an assured modern aesthetic. One look at the heritage façade and you would hardly imagine the strong, clean-lined timber-screened haven at the rear.


Inside the home, a thoroughly contemporary layout unfolds, exhibiting all the modern-day necessities, including a cleverly built-in office nook and generous kitchen island – the perfect stage for juggling family life with ease.


Designed with long summer evenings in mind, the ground floor houses one sprawling, sun-soaked communal area, with the kitchen, dining and living area opening onto an expansive entertaining courtyard at the rear. It’s an idyllic social sanctuary, fit for hosting any manner of soiree or children’s party.


Throughout, contemporary distinctions have been celebrated, evident in the clean lines and sleek finishes, all the while referencing what went before. Steel-framed windows and the geometric staircase are offset by dark-stained herringbone flooring and custom arched joinery, which pay homage to the traditional features of the original build.


In the kitchen, panelled cabinetry, informed by the federation era, and a powdery white palette continue the careful dialogue between past and present.

Beyond the kitchen’s white oasis lies a more formal dining area, set for intimate, sit-down affairs. A hanging pendant by Melbourne-based designer Christopher Boots grounds the dining setting in the open-plan space, and commissioned artwork by celebrated Australian artist Kerry Armstrong further defines the area.


The touches of luxury are undoubtedly impressive but given this is a home for a young family, our brief for a timeless interior that was not too serious or precious was our ultimate goal. Every design element is practical and has a purpose, and the result is a tangible sense of authenticity throughout.


A contemporary sanctuary fit for a young family now resides behind the federation façade, affording a real sense of two eras meeting in harmony.

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All images ©Alexandra Kidd Design


There’s no denying the appeal of country living – the wide open spaces dressed in rich gowns of green and bathed in natural light. But there’s also no denying the appeal of city living – easy access to cultural hubs, cutting the commute, and an endless calendar of diverse entertainment and events.

The best of both worlds is what makes our Ada Avenue project extra special – it occupies a rare slice of sprawling green landscape in Sydney’s upper North Shore, affording its’ inhabitants the joys of both a convenient city and charming country lifestyle.

Eager to take advantage of their enviable surroundings, our client approached us with an open mind, ready to also open up his original 1970s home to the indoor-outdoor way of living. The home’s traditional timber joinery, internal red brick walls and myriad vinyl flooring were long overdue a complete design overhaul.

In a bid to better connect the house with the rambling greenery beyond, we created large, French door openings so the living spaces could flow visually and practically to the outside. We also increased the veranda’s footprint outside the family room, and added a large skylight in the kitchen, letting in an abundance of much-needed light and rekindling the home’s relationship with its surrounding garden.


The original, compartmentalised layout, which separated the kitchen from living and work spaces, was better suited to the lifestyle of another era, so we knocked down a few walls, opening up the cramped kitchen to be part of a larger, open-plan family space.


To complete the vision of a home that was ready to celebrate the natural world around it, we took cues from the back doorstep and chose a material palette to echo the hues of the country garden. Soft furnishings in cool greys, blues and silver have been warmed with natural tan and rich chocolate accents, whilst velvet and leather accents add textural luxury.


We introduced natural materials wherever we could, laying a solid timber floor throughout and selecting beautiful Ayfon Grey marble for the kitchen. The effect is a nurturing environment that effortlessly extends from the outside in.


The original space was home to two beautiful arches and curved mouldings surrounding the doors which we loved, so we introduced two more arched openings and arched decorative mirrors to echo the sculptural shapes of the built elements, and extended the curve feature to include round rugs and tables. The effect is a soft and harmonious environment that welcomes anyone who steps inside.


The kitchen nook is similarly a play on curves, with its round shape that embraces those who come to pull up a pew. The generous pendant light that hangs above adds a beautiful glow when the evening sun begins to sink behind the trees.


The end result is a home that honours the tranquillity and privacy of those who live within its walls, whilst appreciating the stunning outdoor space that lies within reach.


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All images via © Alexandra Kidd Design


We worked with our lovely client on her previous home several years ago, however now that she had entered a new phase in her life, we reconnected to work together once again on a new beachfront home; a smaller and simpler space, yet no less sophisticated.


And a sea change it was! The apartment is just a stone’s throw from the sparkling water and smooth sand of Manly Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Dedicating her way of life and new home to the Danish way of living known as hygge, our brief was to create a comforting home that was an extension of this newly embraced philosophy.

Our North Steyne materials palette

Our North Steyne materials palette

We set out to design a stylish and sophisticated beach-side home that avoided clichéd beach themes (except perhaps just one piece of coral that survived the transition)! Everything was to bring quiet joy and a special feeling throughout, from the soft fabric selections to the detailed joinery design, the charming terrace landscaping and everything in between.

 The biggest challenge was space!


Our client cleverly negotiated the purchase of an adjoining 3 x 3m common space from the Owners Corporation, allowing us to increase the kitchen, add a study and include a built-in bar for entertaining. Even so, the apartment is compact. 


Clever design and detailing enabled us to include a separate dining space with banquette seating and storage, and ensure the kitchen was fully functional and included all the bells and whistles.

Our client had been running to and from a storage unit and her garage to manage her seasonal wardrobe! A long-term solution was imperative, so a redesign of the master bedroom and living space allowed for the required additional robe space and negated the need for storage units in the future.

The colour palette throughout the home was formerly varying shades of cream and beige. We wanted to achieve a visually crisper palette, and create a contemporary contrast of light and dark. To achieve this contrast, we stained the existing timber floors a deep, walnut shade, and coated the walls and joinery in a fresh, powdery white.


With abundant natural light the space wasn’t in need of any design trickery! We enveloped all the windows with delicately sheer linen curtains, and to add layers of texture and warmth, we laid braided rugs in both the bedroom and living room.


In the bedroom, we included a pop of calming, cornflower blue, which subtly evokes the nearby ocean. To create an illusion of space in the bedroom, we continued the robe door detail along the entire elevation, hiding the ensuite behind a camouflaged door, and laid insets of shagreen wallpaper by Ralph Lauren to create a subtle touch of luxe.


The apartment may be small, but now it’s a perfectly formed beach retreat. We were thrilled to discover that our friends over at Belle think so too! We were delighted to spot our cosy North Steyne project in the pages of Belle magazine. It’s been quite the transformation from beige beginnings, but now our client can write her new chapter in this perfect home.

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Belle Feb-March 2019, Smart Spaces - Alexandra Kidd (3).jpg

Images 1 - 11 via © Alexandra Kidd Design / Images 12 - 13 via Belle 

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