Northern Beaches Babylon Home by Fiona Lyda

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    In Sydney’s Northern Beaches, design luminary Fiona Lyda eschews a modern overhaul in favour of uniting the heritage of this midcentury home with gently renewing features and furnishings.

    As the founder and director of beloved Sydney design showroom Spence & Lyda, Fiona Lyda is  a curator with a magpie’s eye for unearthing and showcasing global design finds. It should be no surprise then, that in turning her eye to this once-forgotten Avalon home, she has transformed it from its faded glory to a gently modern coastal retreat.

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    Originally built in 1950 by an ambitious architect and socialite turned antiques dealer, the home was a bold design statement. “It’s an extremely eccentric and fabulous piece of architecture that pulls from the roots of the Australian architecture movement at the time” says Fiona, who was drawn to its clifftop location, distinct stone elements and the design’s unique curation of spaces. Keeping the integrity of the original house was crucial to Lyda, who brought on Casey Brown Architecture to bring the home into the 20th century as sympathetically as possible.

    Defined by a material palette of hand-built stone and earthy timber, it would be easy for the interior elements to be overshadowed by the structure itself but Lyda has drawn on her years of experience (not to mention some standout Spence & Lyda pieces) to introduce furnishings that are practical and refined while sensitive to the surroundings. “It was about having a heritage of modernism but allowing it to come into the here and now” Fiona explains. “I looked to add textures and pattern that would still allow the stone to be key.”

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    The home’s transformation isn’t over yet, with the larger renovation continuing over the coming months. For Lyda, it all comes back to the heritage of the home and its distinct character that attracted her in the first place. “It’s a process of clarification, removing extraneous detractors and getting a cleaner, more organised place that allows for the modernity of life to creep in”.

    This piece originally appeared in est magazine issue 26.

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