Tania Handelsmann and Gillian Khaw’s work is an ode to balance and refinement. Rooted in a belief that elegant, carefully-crafted environments should reflect their clients’ diverse personalities, Australian studio Handelsmann & Khaw are well respected for their growing portfolio. Situated in an exclusive tree-lined suburb, just a short drive from downtown Sydney sits one of their recently completed projects- the Hunters Hill House.
This is a project where the exploration of form and contrasting of textures has brought about a sense of comfort to the stripped-back style of this new home. Using a spare aesthetic to evoke a sense of sophistication (rather than a cold veneer) an abundance of natural light dissolves the home’s industrial edges and raw materials, simplicity and tonal palette all work their magic.
Reclaimed from an old warehouse, the exposed timber beans provide a solid backbone and transform each space with their worn and rustic charm. The visual interest continues with other historical references and detailing, each balanced by more contemporary additions. Features such as the walnut draw fronts, oak flooring, raw sawn limestone tiles and oxidised metal finishes build juxtaposition against the black linear framework, yet never overwhelm the space itself. Impressively patterned marble with angular edges and sculptural lighting fixtures also work collectively to evoke an element of timelessness.
It’s this repeated harmony between both traditional and contemporary styles that weave together inspiration from the past as much as the present. We couldn’t look past the simple kitchen and how it features an extravagant slab of Calacatta Paonazzetto marble in veins of warm honey and tan. It’s smooth to the touch yet its colouring builds warmth. Like other materials used throughout the home, Handelsmann & Khaw’s clever use of subtle, tactile luxury helps soften the homes edgy architecture.
“Our aim was to create a luxury that was subtle and would, like anything exposed to this country’s elements, develop a patina.”
– Interior Designers Tania Handelsmann & Gillian Khaw
As for the furniture, classical and current sit side-by-side to boast a well-edited selection of covetable pieces. Triangular travertine coffee tables and angular chairs complement the royal blue of the linen bedding, solid wood furniture, while wool and leather upholstery exude texture in a seriously reductive palette.
Standout pieces include the recognisable Zig Zag chair designed in the 1930s by Gerrit Rietveld, the 1950s Superleggera 699 chair by Gio Ponti and the 1970s style Pierre Paulin Pumpkin armchairs. Patinated lighting by Apparatus Studio is both modern and timeworn. All this sits against a backdrop of silk rugs and handcrafted tribal artefacts that accessorise the home with plenty of personality.
Tiers of texture, natural patinas and layers of subtle luxury define the restrained elegance of this unique home. Reminiscent of a Flemish farmhouse, Handelsmann & Khaw have conquered the considered use of raw materials. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that all this interplay between dark versus light would give Dutch designer Piet Boon a good run for his money.