Home Tour | First Blush by Smac Studio

  • The deeper we delve into this Sydney home designed by Smac Studio, the more we uncover about the young family that lives there.

    If there was a handbook titled ‘Design and Emotion; How the Two are Interchangeable’, Smac Studio principal architect Shona McElroy would have a copy. First Blush, located in Sydney’s Dover Heights, demonstrates Shona’s knowledge of space (the client candidly refers to her as a “spacial acrobat”) and materials and how both can benefit family life.

    The client, who lives with her husband and their three young girls, developed a close relationship with Shona while working on the project, ultimately achieving a result that they are both immensely proud of. She maintains that the design choices were not intended to adhere to a certain style or narrative, but rather to simply reflect her and her family. “Eclectic, glamorous, harmonious and zen; that’s how I would describe our home and us as people,” she says.

    The palette in the kitchen consists of Palladian marble with blush and bronze veining (one of the last few slabs of its kind), contrasted against black fluting and Woodcut herringbone floors to bring earthiness into the space. “We wanted to create a space where everyone could gather – and that also had a lot of storage,” Shona says. Also pictured: the Kristalia BCN Slide Base stool.

    The Vision and Key Considerations

    Catering to a family with three girls, the spaces in First Blush needed to have a feminine feel. The client was drawn to things that felt glamorous yet calming – two attributes that she says describe her and her daughters. “We wanted a place where we could feel comfortable to express ourselves and our creativity,” she says.

    With three young children, life isn’t always well-kept spaces and spotless kitchen benches. With the many joys of parenting comes the inevitable chaos and mess. Shona has accounted for this with easy-to-clean materials like marble and smart storage solutions, like the bench seat in the kitchen (you’d never know it held kids’ pool toys and towels). 

    Space was also a major consideration, with the client specifying open, zen-like spaces for relaxing and entertaining. Awarded the title of “spacial acrobat”, Shona was quick to re-mould spaces to better suit the family’s needs. “She just moved walls and rooms around like that, nothing was out of reach for her.”

    The client chose the pendants that hang above the dining table from Coco Republic. “They create this halo effect,” Shona says. The artwork hanging on the back wall is by a friend of the owners’, Australian artist Vicky Lee. Also pictured: the Zanotta Teti occasional table.

    The Palette

    There isn’t one word to encompass First Blush’s palette. The client said it herself; the home is eclectic, glamorous, harmonious, zen, and a little bit feminine. In the beginning, this was all nudes and earthy tones, but soon enough layers of colour started to appear; primarily warm blush and bronze tones. The name First Blush not only pays homage to this palette, but it also represents the feeling of when you first walk through the front door. “First Blush is another way of saying first impression, and I think that upon entering the home you are greeted with just this lovely warm feeling,” Shona says.

    When a House Becomes a Home

    Design and emotion; the two are interchangeable. In First Blush, stories begin to unfold in the details – the dressing table in the master bedroom, for example, where the owner braids her daughters’ hair. “I have memories of my gran’s dresser with her beautiful bottles of perfume and silver brushes,” she says. “It was a special, magical place where I’d sit each night while she did my hair. Maybe one day my girls will feel the same about this dressing table.” 

    “A house is more than just a place to live. It’s a home. It’s where you raise your children; where you make your memories. That’s what we wanted our house to feel like.”


    – The homeowner

    The owner says this nook bench is one of her favourite parts of the house. As an added precaution, Shona made sure that the white fabric was easy to clean.

    Curves invite a sense of calm into the home. Pictured: the Kelly Wearstler Rousseua small asymmetric pendant.

    The dressing table is “a little glam space” for the owner and her three girls to enjoy special moments together.

    Light fixture by Kelly Wearstler

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