Capturing Light in a Modern Australian Family Home

  • Sydney-based Stafford Architecture transform a century-old duplex terrace, fusing separate apartments into a sculptural, light-filled home in Darling Point.

    When Stafford Architecture director Bruce Stafford first laid eyes on the run-down dual occupancy, it lacked adequate light flow and the rooms were inconsistent and pokey. Entrusted with the extensive overhaul, Stafford Architecture retained the existing shell of the building in line with heritage requirements while recreating the interiors, paving the way for an open-plan modern Australian terrace. We spoke with Bruce Stafford to learn more about how light informed the design decisions – most pertinently, the selection of robust, natural materials.

    Produced in partnership with Tongue n Groove.

    Aptly named ‘Bring to Light’ by the architects, the home presents as a modest, single-storey gabled-roof structure from the street. Inside, a striking 10-metre void complete with overhead skylight lies at the home’s centre, drenching the kitchen in light throughout the day. In the kitchen, eyes are drawn upwards towards the full-height linear timber wall panelling, creating the illusion of infinite cabinetry. The floating monolithic stone island injects a sense of sophistication into the large kitchen, finished with the Flow Stool by MDF Italia.

    Black steel blades create a subtle transition into the dining room, allowing the room to still bask in the light of the ceiling void. Complementing the dark timber furniture, parquet terracotta-tiled flooring is a nod to the material typically used in traditional Sydney terrace homes of the era. This terracotta tile flows into the outdoor corridor, introduced along the length of the home.

    “Floors are always a critical component in terms of overall composition and the choice of timber floors created a light, consistent and visually textured floor.”


    – Stafford Architecture director Bruce Stafford

    Stafford Architecture introduced a corridor along the length of the home, ensuring all rooms share equal access to natural light and views.

    Stafford Architecture director Bruce Stafford says they aimed to bring as much light as possible into the heart of the terrace. “Coupled with that design driver, the selection of the material palette considered the reflection of light both in terms of colour and texture,” Bruce adds.

    Classic materials used throughout the home ground each space and draw attention to the glimmering blue of the Rushcutters Bay water. Robust accents of black steel softly punctuate the solid foundation of warm timber, concrete, stone and terracotta, while walls throughout are painted a clean white. Upstairs, curved archways reference the openings from the original home, reinterpreted in a smooth, plastered finish. 

    Glass bricks in the bathroom add a Mid-Century sensibility, featuring timber-look tiles from Earp Bros along with the Frama Apothecary Hand Lotion and Hand Wash.

    To imbue a sense of warmth in the open home, Stafford Architects opted for Tongue n Groove’s Freado floorboards. The colouring of Freado remains true to the European oak colour, with a natural and versatile light honey tone.

    Bruce says Stafford Architects always invest time in ensuring their clients select a floor finish that not only fits the design narrative but satisfies all the demands of daily use. “Our client wanted a warm, visually textured timber floor,” Bruce says. “Natural Oak in a light tone was an obvious choice.”

    Through a refreshing design lens, Stafford Architecture have breathed new life into this prestigious Sydney Harbour home. Darling Point Terrace confidently reacts to the tight heritage constraints through the considerable use of light oak, cultivating a functional, open family home.

    Explore Tongue n Groove solid engineered European oak flooring in the est product library here

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