John Street by Phoebe Nicol

  • Phoebe Nicol harnesses the elegance of a bygone era in a reworked heritage Victorian terrace in Woollahra, Sydney.

    Sydney-based designer Phoebe Nicol knows the value of period European furniture and objets d’art. An avid collector and co-owner of The Vault Sydney – a trove of antique furniture, lighting, mirrors and objects – Phoebe Nicol’s eye for heirloom pieces led her to a charming terrace in Woollahra. Redesigned for a client who requested a home that felt “easy to live in, without compromising on character”, the result is a lesson in layering textures and tones to create a delicate balancing act between old and new.

    In keeping with the history of the home, the facade remains distinctly untouched. However, aside from the kitchen at the home’s rear, Phoebe Nicole completely revised the interior footprint to cater to open-plan living and entertaining. Two original bedrooms at the front of the home have been converted into an open living and dining space downstairs, while upstairs, the design team have inserted a new master ensuite into the original loft, one of the most challenging aspects of the overhaul.

    Inside, chevron parquetry flooring contrasts crisp white walls, capturing and reflecting light within the narrow terrace and emphasising the curation of gilded accents throughout. The kitchen, backing onto a compact courtyard, embodies a classic contemporary aesthetic with shaker-profiled cabinetry, bronze joinery pulls, Carrara stone and stainless steel appliances. A bespoke brass island pendant designed by Phoebe Nicol completes the kitchen, accompanied by vintage rattan bar stools.

    A combination of deep burgundy and gold comes to the fore in the living and dining space, informed by a custom Viola marble console designed by Phoebe. Simple slip-covered armchairs are at home next to Pierre Jeanneret chairs in the dining space, expressing the deliberate tension between modern and vintage that prevails in each room.

    The Gubi F.A. 33 Rectangular Mirror adds an Italian design edge into the home.

    Built-in joinery in the same tone as the kitchen cabinetry unifies both storeys.

    Phoebe Nicol says that seeking out natural light in the old home was crucial. “Additional windows and skylights were employed to bring in natural light, while the interior palette focuses on layered shades of neutrals to naturally lift the space,” Phoebe explains. This light-filled design approach continues in the new master bedroom upstairs, with textural sisal carpet, white linen and expansive skylights. The quaint ensuite nestled into the roofline reflects aspects of the Victorian bones of the home through diamond floor tiles and traditional chrome tapware.

    Phoebe Nicol’s John Street project sees the considered reinterpretation of a centuries-old home, replete with character and design relics.

    Nestled into the upper roofline, the master ensuite reflects aspects of the Victorian bones of the home.

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