In Greek Mythology, Elysium is described as a place of perfect happiness; exactly what we at est believe a home should be. As regular est readers will know, we are always looking out for homes that bring contentment — a concept that Studio Prineas understands well. After our chat with founder of the studio Eva-Marie Prineas, we were keen to take a closer look at their heritage transformation of the House Elysium. Unsurprisingly we found that just as its name alludes, this home makes for a happy place indeed.
To put it simply, Studio Prineas have an expert eye for knowing what to alter and what to keep; an essential quality for taking on a Victorian-era Grand Italianate Terrace. Characteristic to the distinctive 19th century Italianate architecture is a sense of symmetry and a form, and it was this foundation that Studio Prineas have adapted to the rebuild of this inner-city Sydney home.
In a bid to bring this heritage-listed house into the present-day, it had to be infused with an openness to the outdoors. The brief set out to orientate the terrace to the rear garden with a two-storey extension that subsumes the rear living space and connects multiple levels of the house to the outside area and exterior studio. Studio Prineas also managed to be creative within their constraints – the internal reworking of the garden level required excavation under the existing footprint of the home, while maintaining the heritage fabric of the front two rooms of the terrace, and structural limitations led to the opportunity for a walk-in pantry and cellar.
With this modern addition came a full restoration of the existing structure, right down to the cornices and skirting boards. While classical features of Italianate influence were aptly preserved, room configurations were changed to create a generous upper level bathroom space, resplendent with its own ornate marble fireplace. Visually, there’s no hiding the contemporary insertions from the original structure of the home, yet the new is subservient to the old, well-proportioned to celebrate the richness of the Italianate ornamentation. In our opinion, this comes down to the quality of the materials chosen, such as the sustainable plywood cabinetry.
In a true harmony of forms, Studio Prineas have mindfully considered the scale of the new, to match the grand scale of the original. To large proportions, the team has fully embraced the planted surroundings, with steel frame windows and expansive ceiling height that open the living space to the lush outcrop. It’s a picturesque vista for all seasons: outdoor-indoor entertaining in summer and an abundance of greenery to beat the winter blues. For an element of surprise, Studio Prineas have chosen ornate matte black ceiling and pendant lighting in each space. These bold accents of black inject depth into each space, complemented by a palette of white and shades of warm grey; certainly with our tick of approval. Coupled with authentic timber flooring, this palette is ready to soothe the intensity of a working day.
Blessed with Studio Prineas’ forward-thinking design, the House Elysium now looks to the future with clarity and connection, for another hundred years of happy living.
“The strength and scale of the new work positions the house midway between the European typology of the street terrace and the subtropical typology of the courtyard garden.”
– Studio Prineas