It’s one thing to be inspired by an artwork, and it’s another to design a home around a piece of art. In this rare instance, Madeline Blanchfield Architects have teamed up with their creative clients to meet a brief motivated by a 17th century lithograph print. With this approach,  the print “Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing” provided the basis for a calming, quirky and deeply personal family home.

DESIGN Madeleine Blanchfield Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Prue Ruscoe

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For an arty family of five, the south-facing 1950s suburban home lacked light and fluency. To craft a unique character, the existing house was completely gutted, save the structural columns and beams. The walls have been replaced by large windows of the external courtyard and Sydney’s eastern shores, bathing the home in natural light. Each space ties together the shared personality of its inhabitants – their belongings, ideas, gatherings, stories and memories – with room for more to be added.

The home is also mindful of its relationship with the environment. Sustainable design practices are embodied in the passive solar design, incorporating solar hydronic flooring and hot water heating. To preserve heat, windows have been double glazed with appropriate eaves on those north facing. Vertical external sun-shading is fitted on the east and west of the home, to ensure a cooling relief in warmer months. In a move towards self-sufficiency, water storage and internal recycling systems such as composting are now available to the clients. Keeping to a principle of minimal waste was developed in the renovation process, where sandstone from the base of the original building was cut and recycled.

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In art, a lithograph print forms around a technique that involves printing with the smooth surface of metal or stone. This method is reflected in the choices of the polished materials used throughout the abode, with soothing hues and cool tones. Marble has been chosen as a luxurious backsplash and solid console, pared with metal basins, brass and gold tap fittings. So too is the metallic touch favoured in lighting, adding to a collection of furniture designed, detailed and hand-made. More subtly, Alice in Wonderland was the inspiration of the staircase, just as the external fireplace takes influence from Carlo Scarpa. Lime washed walls and vintage-look cactus print wallpaper are an eclectic wall dressing, while cushions and fabrics soften the home’s clean lines and forms. Only could this be achieved through the high calibre of artists, curators, joiners, metal workers, stylists, textile designers and stone masons involved.

Valuing the craftsmanship of creators, Madeline Blanchfield Architect’s intuitive design has brought art into the architecture, but not in its conventional wall-hanging form. With this success, one lucky family has an inspirational home to let their artistic juices flow.

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Demonstrated in both the abundance of artistic elements and art in the home itself, the project resurrected a home to become part of the client’s life journey.

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With the ease of accessibility to the backyard, the home is an outdoor-indoor entertainer’s delight – made even better with views over Sydney’s eastern beaches.

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