Castlecrag by Polly Harbison Design

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    Polly Harbison Design bring the magic of a secret garden home to a renovation in Sydney’s leafy Castlecrag, with hints of inspiration from Portuguese villas.

    Castlecrag by Polly Harbison Design was built to blend within its environment through a series of interconnected open plan living spaces and ‘plant’ rooms carefully sculpted by Bates Landscape.

    The former house was nicknamed the bête rouge (red beast), thanks to the brick colour and hodgepodge of rooms and extensions. However, rather than knocking the house down and starting from scratch, Polly Harbison employed a design strategy to reduce, edit and revive its solid bones.

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    Polly used the frame of an old brick house on the Castlecrag site that had formerly been the home to a family with 10 children. The previous house was an unruly mess of rooms with no consideration for aesthetics or ease of living. “While it met the fundamental requirements of shelter, what was missing was light, beauty and connection to the amazing site,” the architect shares.

    For the first time, the tranquil home connects the living spaces to the gardens through the removal of add hock rooms and a new rear deck.

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    The architect designed a series of spaces that open to the newly conceived garden rooms. In the dining room, the table was handmade by the client’s father, complemented with Chair ‘170’ by Takahashi Asako (The Wood Room), and Coco Republic Cove Pendant Lights.

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    In the dining room, Harbison designed a bar area with Portuguese handmade ceramic tiles from Trio Ceramica.

    “The new ‘landscaped’ rooms key to the projects planning are enriched by Bates Landscape’s selection of plants.”

    – Polly Harbison

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    On the modern deck, the outdoor space is maximised throughout the year with the Jetmaster Wood Burning fireplace and cosy Tribu Pure Sofa and Coffee Table from Cosh Living.

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    Structurally, the architects opened the rooms, creating open plan living on the ground floor that connects from the front courtyard garden to the back deck, and down to the existing pool. Polly also changed the orientation of the stairs to flow next to a newly created lightwell — capturing light throughout the ground and the first floor.

    The new owners wanted to invite their Portuguese heritage into the design, starting with the white-painted stucco exterior. Glimpses of this can also be seen in the focus on curves — from the arched front door to the concrete cover over the deck.

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    The concrete curved terrace cover and steel windows from All Metal Projects add an elegant, yet practical fire-proof touch to the family home.

    As well as keeping the former structure of the bête rouge, the architects used cross-ventilation and light to increase passive and sustainable qualities of the home. Honest to its natural environment, the home’s interior has an organic orientation to the external zones, as Polly adds, “the garden is the star of the show.”

    With a mix of open plan living, external ‘plant’ rooms, and intimate spaces, Polly has transformed the home with improved flow, light and connectivity to its tranquil surrounds.

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    The architects opened the family living spaces all the way down to the existing pool, adding a Gather & Co firepit for chilly evenings. Terrace dining is complete with the Andreu World Reverse Table and Emu Round Chairs, both from KE-ZU.

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