Queens Park House by Arent&Pyke is the romantic restoration of a Federation bungalow in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs for a family of four.
Arent&Pyke co-founder and principal Sarah-Jane Pyke says the Federation bungalow is one of her favourite types of homes to work on. “They have everything you need and nothing you don’t – they sit very compactly on their site,” Sarah-Jane says. However, to cater to the social homeowners, their two energetic preteen boys and their dog, two cats, a lizard and a cockatoo, the design team needed to reconsider the home’s layout to ensure the most functional and effective floorplan.
Architect Ben Vitale inserted an upper floor into the roofline of the original bungalow – barely visible from the street. Then, he carved out an additional floor below to house storage, a laundry room and a cellar.
The front part of the house was carefully retained, while the circa 1980s rear addition was the first thing to go. “The addition was large in scale, mean in proportion and didn’t do the beautiful home any justice,” Sarah-Jane explains. As the home faces a park, Arent&Pyke and Ben Vitale changed the sense of arrival, so the new entry point is now through the new addition – a Spanish villa-style structure inviting you inside through curved openings framed with French doors. “It’s really beautiful to come through the garden and get a first view of the house when you enter through the kitchen,’ Sarah-Jane says.
Walking into the home through the back entrance hints at the whimsical sensibility that follows throughout the rest of the home. Despite its prettiness, Sarah-Jane says it’s not uncommon to pop over to the hardworking home and see ten young boys in the backyard after school, hanging out and jumping into the pool. “A lot is going on; everyone is busy and active, so the house had to be robust, and it had to be functional,” she adds.
Coloured kitchens are a hallmark of Arent&Pyke’s projects. The muted green kitchen in Queens Park House is the first room you see when entering, so it had to make a statement. Here, dark eucalypt cabinetry is balanced with an ivory island bench that comfortably seats six – a crucial element to the brief for midweek family dinners. An extensive butler’s pantry equipped with ovens, a generous workspace and storage provide ample space for the avid cook to entertain easily. At the same time, the main kitchen is kept clean and clutter-free with integrated appliances.
Sarah-Jane says the kitchen needed to be an exciting place to get in among the action while still being functional enough to pump out incredible family meals. “Fusing beauty and practicality is the essence of what we do in our kitchens – we never want one to be sacrificed for the other,” she adds.
The detailing in the master ensuite is classical and restrained, with a focus on materials and craftsmanship.
Arent&Pyke found space to establish moments of calm – particularly in the front sitting room – for this dynamic family home. This space is a purely kid-free zone, positioned at the front of the house and filled with eclectic pieces like the Cassina 637 Utrecht Chairs, vintage coffee table and Anna Charlesworth pendant.
One of the key elements Arent&Pyke wrestled with in the redesign of this period home was linking the ceilings in the new space with the intricately detailed ceiling from the old home. “We just couldn’t envisage flat plasterboard in this space,” Sarah-Jane says. “We settled on a slight panelled breakup in the new ceiling to give us some sense of that balanced dialogue between the old and the new.”
This subtle ‘gesture’ continues upstairs, where architect Ben Vitale has cleverly made room for a master bedroom, ensuite, walk-in robe and private home office. Suddenly elevated, Sarah-Jane likens this upstairs retreat to a serene oasis, where your eye line is met with sky and treetops. Where a feast of colours and patterns reigns supreme downstairs, upstairs sees a more sober and sophisticated colour scheme of soft greys, burnt terracotta, and navy blue come to the fore. Linear wall cladding, a classic freestanding bath and traditional fixtures throughout the master ensuite and robe tastefully balance the old with the new.
Arent&Pyke have masked the demands of busy family life through bold colour choices and a considered floorplan. Queens Park House rewrites the narrative of a traditional family home; attesting good things take time.