Foreground: Hug armchairs by Rossella Pugliatti; Drive sofa and two Blend low tables by Carlo Colombo for Giorgetti; Circuit wall light by Apparatus Studio. Background: Selene dining chairs and Mizar dining table by Roberto Lazzeroni for Giorgetti; Tassel 57 pendant by Apparatus Studio — all

This unique family home sees a sleek, contemporary sensibility integrated into a heritage-listed building

It takes a clever eye and a considerate, careful nature to tackle the renovation of a heritage building. But when such projects are done properly — when the marriage of old and new is a harmonious and effortless one — the final effect is exquisite.

Oak House, perched atop a concrete jetty on the edge of Sydney Harbour, is a shining example of this, from its historic facade to its contemporary, European-style interiors. Here, architect Jeremy Bull of Alexander & Co. has managed to pay respect to the structure’s all-important history while transforming it into a warm, inviting family home — and the result is simply breathtaking. 

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Giorgetti’s Roberto Lazzeroni-designed Mizar table and Selene dining chairs are complemented by the Tassel 57 pendant by Apparatus Studio — all available from ECC.
Subtle decorative touches have been applied throughout, like the Circuit wall lights by Apparatus Studio available from ECC.

Before it was Oak House, the structure of this home (erected in 1912) was first a place in which wool arriving from sea into Sydney was processed, before eventually becoming a suite of commercial offices. It has a storied history, and one that the owners were required to protect by maintaining the building’s colonial character and conserving its original structure. This required the team at Alexander & Co. to work strategically and creatively within those parameters, eventually coming up with a concept that would pay homage to the home’s history while grounding it firmly in the present. 

Externally, Oak House has retained its original character entirely (it was only slightly altered for restoration purposes and privacy), with most of the renovations taking place on the building’s interior. As such, the facade was designed to envelop the contemporary home rebuilt within, creating an interesting aesthetic dichotomy between old and new and making a strong architectural statement. 

Here, the Extrasoft sofa by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani available from Studio Italia, is paired with Patricia Urquiola’s Fat-Fat ottoman for B&B Italia available from Matisse.
The Cloud37 pendant and Trapeze 2 Surface pendant by Apparatus Studio, available from ECC, illuminating the Tobi-ishi dining table by B&B Italia and Hannes Wettstein’s Hola 369 chairs for Cassina both available from Matisse.

The interior is a study in sleek European luxury. Painted timber panelled walls and herringbone floors communicate beautifully with the gnarled timber beams of the original structure (peppered throughout), while a palette of soft, oaky neutrals, bright whites, undulating marble and dulled bronze sets a calm, sophisticated tone.

The Synapse pendant by Apparatus Studio lends its distinctive form to the space — available from ECC.

Subtle decorative details and touches of toned-down colour have been deployed with a deft hand to ensure that each space feels layered, warm and unique. Take the two Hug armchairs by Rossella Pugliatti for Giorgetti in the main living room for example, or the eye-catching wall and pendant lights by Apparatus Studio throughout. Every detail has been meticulously considered and assembled in such a way as to exude quiet, understated, timeless luxury. 

Jean-Marie Massaud’s Poliform Ventura stools are much-loved additions to this heart of the home available from Studio Italia.

Comprising five bedrooms over two storeys, the layout of Oak House has been just as carefully designed. With children’s rooms on the lower floors, adult living upstairs and balconies on both levels to maximise the effect of the residence’s astounding views over Sydney Harbour, this home offers a seamless flow between its shared and private spaces.

Each bathroom has its own aesthetic character, while a sprawling, superbly-designed Boffi kitchen sits at the heart of the home — a place where the family can perch on Jean-Marie Massaud’s Poliform Ventura stools to connect with one another and bookmark their days. 

The Circuit: 4 Vertical pendant by Apparatus Studio complements the bathroom’s dulled bronze accents available from ECC.

Oak House is a design triumph and a credit to Alexander & Co.’s creative approach. Overcoming the hurdle of working with a historic waterfront building to create something that feels of-the-moment without being trend-driven, Bull and his team have proven that perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks. 

Clockwise from top left: Bamboo Silk Rug in Stone Grey from Nodi, Dual Astral Pendant from Powersurge, Aalto Vase from The Studio of Tableware, Lepli ottoman by KENSAKU OSHIRO for Poltrona Frau available from Studio Italia, Chelsea Chair by Rodolfo Dordoni for Molteni&C, available from Dawson & Co.


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