IN WITH THE OLD, AND THE NEW: BEECROFT ROAD CHILDCARE CENTRE, UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Heritage, respect and play inform our latest commercial project, an almost-century old congregational church reimagined as a childcare centre.

Our client approached the studio excited by our work on the Mater Hospital Special Care Nursery, and wanting a similarly personal approach to transform the run-down church into a nurturing and inspiring place for children to learn, play and grow.  

Keen to harness our residential expertise, our client’s brief was to create a space that would feel like a second home for the centre’s little inhabitants.

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The church has a long history, but more recently the Hornsby Council considered demolishing it, so neglected had the building become. Restoration, therefore, was a priority, but an extension was also necessary to house the plans for the childcare centre.

Respect, both of past and future, has been central to our design. Granted the opportunity to give the building a second life, we set out to preserve almost one hundred years of architectural history. A designer’s dream foundation, we drew off the church’s structure, reinterpreting original details by incorporating arch shapes, large volumes and earthy hues.

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Modern design elements introduce a new life into the space that is appropriate for children. We considered the space from a child’s-eye view, designing from the ground up. A miniature kitchen and dining table offer hours of imaginative fun, a climbing wall for indoor activity, and a ‘wall of fame’ to show off the children’s art work.

Pint-sized nooks and hidey-holes infuse the space with a sense of adventure, and tiny furniture ensures the kids will feel a pride of place in the space designed just for them.

While honouring what came before, we also wanted to respect the future, and the future generations that would be nurtured within the historic walls. To this end, the construction process has been a story of reducing waste, reusing and recycling, at every point being mindful of the environment and the generations to come.

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Premium grade plywood, Bolon flooring (made from recycled plastic) and low VOC paints were among some of the finishes carefully selected to be both environmentally friendly and sustainable. We used natural timber for both the joinery and some furniture pieces, which was made from the trunks of trees removed during the renovation.

As well as approaching the project with an eco-conscience, we also set out to nurture a relationship with the centre and the surrounding bushland. The trunk-made furniture is part of a larger story that includes an oversized mural inspired by local fauna and flora, earthy shades of terracotta, natural materials such as wool rugs, and timber kept purposefully raw.

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Now halfway through the construction process, we’re feeling as excited to see the finished result as we were on our first day of school. We can’t wait to see the centre come to life and continue to grow as it cares for each child who steps inside.

DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: DIAMOND BAY ROAD UNDER CONSTRUCTION

No great project comes without challenges, and this home posed a very specific one: sea air.

Our client’s home is positioned right on the cliffs in Vaucluse, with awe-inspiring views of the ocean as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, the trade-off is sea air so corrosive that our clients’ neighbours had resolved to covering their television with a fabric ‘sock’ so as to extend its life span past the usual 18 months of previous televisions.

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With the corrosive sea air in mind, we were limited in our choice of materials, opting instead to minimise finishes in favour of a more pared-back approach. Brass, for example, was completely off-limits, seeing as it would patina far too quickly in the salty-air environment.

Our clients had a vision for their home as a classic interpretation of modern living. With a small selection of tolerant materials available to us, we set out to complete their vision through a different approach, choosing an architectural language to express old-school glamour.

To that end, we installed mouldings, cornices and wall panelling to reinstate detailing that had been stripped away by previous renovations, injecting a sense of grandeur back into the apartment. A Marie Antoinette-style parquetry floor was our client’s singular ‘must have,’ and we selected Carrara marble (another favourite) for all the services including kitchen, bathroom, laundry and terrace.

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The planning and design process was purposefully drawn out. We considered every minute detail, from where to store hats and Christmas decorations to how each space would be used for special occasions and celebrations.

With each issue overcome, the construction process has been very efficient and short-lived. Exactly as one might hope it to go.

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The apartment’s enviable location was central to the design process, informing every decision about materials and finishes. To ensure the home worked harmoniously inside with its surroundings outside, we paid homage to the sprawling, romantic ocean views by selecting a neutral, warm colour palette to frame the ever-changing colours and light of the panoramic seaside surrounds.

As the final details are finished and the furniture is being placed into position, we join in our clients’ excitement as they redefine the idea of ‘home,’ and transform their change of pace and priorities in their new space.

BACHELOR PAD MEETS PENTHOUSE PANACHE: WHARF CRESCENT REVEALED

Our Wharf Crescent client approached us dreaming of a convenient city home to impress; ‘Sophisticated Bachelor Pad’ was the theme of the brief.

We began with a largely black and white shell, bringing in custom details and a level of quality to transform the once-stark apartment into a space that is now at once bespoke and highly luxurious.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Our starting point for the open-plan living spaces was a silk Robyn Cosgrove rug in copper and navy, which drove the colour palette for the rest of the home. Coppery drapery might not have been the obvious choice, but the slightly metallic material instantly softened the space, capturing the mood of the dazzling, panoramic city views whilst also reflecting daily sunsets. The drapery still feels impossibly light, while adding material beauty where it was needed most.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Our client is a keen entertainer, so we reserved the best view in the home for a bar unit and entertaining space. Bespoke joinery conceals the bar unit behind a black veneer door when it’s not in use, and two leather Moooi chairs, set slightly in front, look out towards the enviable Harbour views.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Responding to an unusual floor plan, which flows around the central building core, we lined the interior walls with black timber veneer and mounted the client’s own travel photography for a refined personal touch.

Where a glass office once stood, we knocked down the walls to create a casual breakfast nook. Our client wanted a space to read the morning paper, check emails and eat in a more relaxed setting. To fulfil this brief, we selected vibrant orange shades to imbue the space with a sense of informality, and contrast with the deeper, burnt shades of the more formal living areas.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

The pique leather of the banquette seat and strap detailing honour our client’s love of luxury cars, and contribute to the welcoming space that provides the ideal backdrop for the first meal of the day and the last email of the evening.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

In the bedroom, we continued the pique leather on the headboard detail, or what we fondly refer to as ‘the luxury racing car leather.’ Armani silk wallpaper installed above the bed adds a touch of romance, providing an element of softness and contrasting with the more masculine materials of the room.

For an element of playfulness, we chose a long-time favourite, the classic, versatile shape of the Atollo Lamp. The sculptural form holds its own in a room with several dominating materials.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

In the small powder room, we continued the ‘sophisticated masculine’ theme, opting for all dark tones. To avoid a one-dimensional feel, we used different materials, combining black marble, black veneer and a bronze mosaic tile to create depth. The inclusion of the reflective metallic tile and an elongated mirror bounce the light and lift the space for a truly show-stopping powder room.

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Wharf Crescent, photographed by Simon Whitbread and styled by Manyara Home

Like the lovechild of a bachelor pad and swanky hotel penthouse, the finished apartment is an ode to all things masculine and luxurious. It’s a refined and elegant man cave that not only reflects our client’s personality, but works in harmony with both his daily rituals and special, entertaining occasions.