Federation Home

Past Meets Present: A Timeless Transformation in Sydney’s Home Design


A home in Sydney’s Burwood has received a modern extension that complements its Federation roots.

Homes that honour the past have a certain sense of grace about them. These stately structures don’t rush from trend to trend, but instead acknowledge the history that has occurred within their walls, paying homage to eras gone by and reminding the homeowner that we’re not living in a disposable world.

Homes that honour the past

This home in Sydney’s Burwood, designed by Priscilla Elasi from The Stylesmiths, flirts with the past while moving into a modern era. Originally a Federation-style residence with a tiny kitchen, it was in desperate need of an update to increase functionality for the family of five residing there. “The clients’ brief was to create a homely, inviting space that had a timeless and slightly European feel,” Priscilla says. “The extension was to be light and airy with some depth and character. It was important that the extension didn’t feel too modern, yet had a nice flow from the original home.”

This renovation encompassed a formal living room, kitchen, main bathroom, dining room, living area, master bedroom and three kids’ bedrooms, as well updating the alfresco area and pool. Space wasn’t an issue when it came to the design; the original home was rather small, but it was situated on a generous 1100sqm block, so there was lots of room to extend.

This renovation encompassed a formal living room

“We did not touch the old part of the house too much, however we did a slight refresh by painting the walls a brighter, crisper white to give the home a more contemporary feel,” Priscilla says. “We also lightened the original timber floors with a beautiful limewash.”

This marries perfectly with the extension, where blackbutt flooring sets the stage for a light and airy heart of the home. White cabinetry and generous windows and skylights enhance the sense of space in the living area and kitchen, which could no longer be called tiny; instead, it’s expansive, with a generous storage component.

enhance the sense of space in the living area and kitchen

The open-plan layout is decidedly modern, yet respect is paid to the past via classical bronze/aged-brass fixtures and striking natural materials that will stand the test of time. “We chose beautiful Calacatta marble for the bathroom floor and kitchen island, which is timeless,” Priscilla says. “The sheer curtains in the main living are 100 per cent linen, along with all the beautiful rugs in the home which are 100 per cent wool.”

A solid walnut timber dining table complements the timber-veneer island. “All of these natural finishes will age over time, giving the home more heart and soul as it gracefully ages,” Priscilla says.

A solid walnut timber dining table complements the timber-veneer island

As you travel through the house, more historical flirtations come to light. Chandeliers sparkle along the halls, with decorative sconces twinkling in the stairwell, and inside the old primary living area a whiskey room now sits, with mouldings, cornices and an enchanting fireplace from another era. “We called it the Navy room, with dark moody walls and luxurious velveted curtains,” Priscilla says. “This room was a nice contrast surprise from the rest of the home that was light and bright. It had a beautiful old charm about it which was important when designing the space.”

The bathroom continues the classical design theme. White cabinetry is again abundant, making the room feel larger than its footprint and providing more storage, and the detail in the tiles is just playful enough to add interest and prevent the space from seeming staid.

The bathroom continues the classical design theme

The exterior alterations to the home are just as delightful as those inside. A double-sided fireplace links the living room with the alfresco space, with bifold doors opening all the way up to allow a true sense of indoor/outdoor living. The pool received a modern makeover, with the light-coloured tiles underscoring the brilliant blue of the pool’s interior. Matching window bricks were also chosen for the extension, allowing for an almost seamless transition between old and new.

The exterior alterations to the home are just as delightful as those inside.

Perhaps one of the most exciting outdoor additions, however, are the cobblestone tiles used at the front, rear and side of the home. These unique materials were reused and originated in France. “The fact that they were reclaimed was the main factor when selecting them,” Priscilla says. “They also tell a story and really fit the home well.”

the cobblestone tiles used at the front, rear and side of the home.

And if this new home could tell a story, there’s no doubt it would be one of love. “I loved how close they (the clients) are as a family,” Priscilla says. “Even their Uncle Amil, who lived next door, would pop over and help with the build, from helping tile the cobblestones to planting the new plants. You can just feel the love that has been put into this home.”

Words Lauren Clarke Photography Fiona Susanto