A Glamorous Reworking Of A 1940s Castlecrag, NSW Home
Sugarloaf is a house in Castlecrag, NSW originally designed in the 1940s by prominent Sydney architect Harold Smith.
The owners were drawn to the home for its position in nature and views, which they hoped to enhance through renovations with design studio Kate Nixon.
The brief was to reconfigure, refresh, and furnish the charming family home to maximise views of bushland and Middle Harbour beyond.
Tones and textures were to sit softly with existing art and furniture, with an emphasis on flexibility, functionality, and natural light for cosy, everyday living.
The designers were inspired by the clients’ art and antique collection when designing the renovation. ‘These pieces were considered from the outset,’ says studio director Kate Nixon. ‘Their palette and character served to inform built and decorative decisions in the home, allowing us to subtly modernise and replan spaces.’
No floor space was technically added to the three-storey home, but the layout was reconfigured to be more open, functional, and focused on the landscape. Kate explains, ‘Our approach with the palette and spatial planning was to find ways within the existing building envelope to best nurture the way our clients love to live.’
An unused passage between the entry and laundry became a cellar accessible via the formal dining room; and an intrusive volume caused by the staircase has been cleverly concealed by a curving fireplace.
Kate Nixon elevated the interiors with a palette of earthy materials intended to patina, from charred timber to saw cut limestone tiles, reconditioned French oak floorboards, reclaimed marble flagstone, steel doors, polished plaster, and bronze hardware — sometimes all in the one space.
‘The kitchen island bench was a feat of coordination involving six different trades to synchronise joinery, a plaster finish, travertine bench top with a custom profile, tiled kick, brass foot rail, and an iron pot rail,’ says Kate.
Classic arches were also introduced through key external and internal transitions, creating softened portals for framed vistas of gardens, art, and furnishings.
Kate says the clients’ everyday experience has been through completely transformed through relatively minor structural updates and meticulous attention to detail.
‘I also love the ‘secret garden’ inspired sense of arrival we were able to create with the stone clad wall peeking through the new recycled timber gate to discover a hidden world of quiet luxury.’
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