Magnolia House by Arent&Pyke

  • A young family on Sydney’s lower North Shore receive the full Arent&Pyke experience, paving the way for a warm, welcoming and gracious family home.

    Here at est we’re quick to say first impressions count. This was the primary motivation behind locally-based design team Arent&Pyke’s top-to-toe transformation of the Magnolia House too when they were asked to first take on the kitchen and bathroom re-do. A quick sketch of a staircase in the entryway and receptive clients evolved into an entirely refurbished family home. Now drenched in colour, texture and natural light, the Arent&Pyke spirit has taken this home far from its former state and how family living is typically envisioned.

    First engaged to renovate the rear of the home, the team and Arent&Pyke just weren’t happy with the overbearing entrance, so decided to sketch up a new arrival point. This impromptu idea sparked a re-work of the whole home. “It really came down to understanding the needs of the client. It’s often the case, people will say ‘I want this’ but when you speak more to them they realise that they want more or something different,” said Sarah-Jane Pyke, co-founder of Arent&Pyke.

    According to Sarah-Jane, the entrance was heavily enclosed by the stairs – as if the staircase felt “too heavy for the house, imposing on everything you saw”. Immediately it made sense to the client and was a turning point in the project, changing the flow of the entire home. In the words of Sarah-Jane; “First impressions are very important – and the stairs are now your first impression when entering the home. It’s really welcoming; spacious, light, and elegant and wasn’t any of those things before”. The staircase is particularly special in this project, as the manufacturer vowed to never repeat the ‘technically challenging task’ – a one-off custom element that truly represents the heart of this home.

    What came next was a re-design of the spatial layout for a young family, changing all aspects of the interior except for the original volume of the home. Sarah-Jane describes the clients as “enthusiastic adaptors” to what they proposed for the home’s new build and this trust informed the whole material palette, where the limestone floors were replaced by classic herringbone oak. With co-founder Juliette Arent leading design for the project, Sarah-Jane said she could fully appreciate the structural transformation of the home. “There’s now a beautiful rhythm as you go down the hallway, and your eyes are led all the way down to the family room, kitchen and through to the garden view,” she said. “The house really draws you in in a very natural and warm way; it’s a very warm house.”

    Arent&Pyke have exercised their expertise in tempering the architectural details of the home. Textures of sisal carpet and timber panelling soften the staircase; panelling that also lines the walls and conceals the entrances to the study space and powder room. But it’s Arent&Pyke’s confident use of colour, shades and texture that really characterises their work in the Magnolia House. Every room draws on the palette of the next in an interesting way, be it the eucalyptus tones of the shaker kitchen that are played within the formal living and powder room, or that salmon cabinetry – peacock Hackney wallpaper combination in the study space.

    As demonstrated in Magnolia House, Sarah-Jane said a passion for colour is a thread through all of their work, to bring joy and as a strong link to memory. “We’re really trying to create a backdrop to all of your lasting family memories,” she said. “That’s really what your home is there for – it’s a vehicle for you to come together with your family. So by injecting colour into a home, we feel it becomes a really big part of memory.”

    Lighting was carefully selected to be a standout feature in most spaces of the home. We’re definitely drawn to the enduring Louis Poulsen pendants in the living space and the Apparatus pendant that crowns the kitchen bench. The sophisticated living and dining space is a dedicated adult zone but situated close to the children’s rooms. We can see why this is a devoted grown-up area with its midnight blue velvet Gubi Beetle Chairs, Walter Knoll Table, Cassina ‘Rio’ Coffee Table, Minotti Seymour Sofa in petrol blue and coral ‘Bibendum’ Armchairs. Cleverly so, the palette of the artworks replicate these colours, while the new fireplace and custom joinery further add to the grand atmosphere.

    Sarah-Jane said the project was full of surprises. This rings true metaphorically and literally in each of the inviting yet striking spaces within the Magnolia House. By working closely with the client on every step – from the built elements, colours, furnishings, lighting to the artwork – they’ve created a sophisticated home with the right kind of flow for family living. Here’s to plenty of happy memories made in a home entirely tailored to its residents.

    Steel frame glazing opens up to a stellar second storey view with views of the garden by Secret Gardens
    Beautiful pastel tones Ait Manos tiles from Onsite Simply & Design, on Terrazzo flooring with an Atelier Areti ‘Plates’ pendant light

4 Responses

  1. Hi Gemma,

    We recommend reaching out to Arent & Pyke directly for the cabinetry specifications.


    the est team

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