The Look

Upper North Shore Residence by Phoebe Nicol

A reworked provincial home in Sydney’s North is designer Phoebe Nicol’s tribute to its owner. 

French, English, and Italian design identities meld together in this collector’s home designed by Sydney-based Phoebe Nicol. With a shared passion for antiques, Phoebe Nicol worked with her client across more than two and a half years of careful planning and curating. The designer aimed to create an interior environment that celebrates pre-owned pieces arranged in an elegant juxtaposition of old and new.

The formal living area features custom boucle sofas, a 1940s Murano glass pendant and Starburst mirror from the Vault Sydney, Greg Natale twisted marble bowl and 1940s coffee table.

The generous home featured expansive gardens and Victorian details. However, the interiors were dark, which Phoebe addressed by removing shutters and integrating a soft interior palette. The designer also stripped and limed the dated floorboards and introduced new joinery and a striking stone fireplace in the living room.

Each space was designed to feature a series of layers; soft colours and natural materials such as sisal or linen, followed by intriguing, ‘heavier’ pieces that maintain balance and warmth. The formal living room features brass lights and one of the owner’s favourite pieces, the 1940 Murano glass pendant. White sofas with custom boucle coverings soften the deep brass accents. “This house celebrates a palette of whites, off whites and neutrals,” Phoebe says. “It demonstrates that white is not one colour but a thousand tones and shades, all slightly and subtly different from each other.”

As both a designer and the co-owner of The Vault Sydney with Jemery Bowker, Phoebe Nicol had a trove of rich history at her fingertips for this project. The homeowner was an avid visitor of the Rosebery antique store and appreciated the designer’s unique aesthetic and collector’s eye. From The Vault, Phoebe sourced various pieces for the study and bedrooms, such as Louis XII style armchairs, an 18th-century trestle table and a polychrome mirror from 19th-century Spain. 

“Every room has a focal point, something that creates visual interest and sparks conversation.”

 

– Phoebe Nicol

The informal living area features custom Belgian linen sofa and ottoman, tapestry fabric cushions, Jenny Topfer artwork and Belgian terracotta lamps.

Custom wall lights, pendants, and soft Belgian linen connect the living and dining areas. Small variations in neutral tones appear in subtle details like the natural rug underfoot or the two robust terracotta lamps sourced from Belgium atop a 17th-century Italian console.

Jenny Topfer’s artwork in the living areas and hallway injects a contemporary reverence. Her textural pieces are made slowly and carefully from oil and wax pigment on linen, nodding to the home’s layered aesthetic. “We fell in love with the artist Jenny Topfer,” Phoebe says. “Jenny’s work is soft, layered and beautiful.”

Phoebe Nicol’s deep understanding of the client saw her transform the Upper North Shore Residence into a home that inherently reflects their shared aesthetic and penchant for collecting.

The expansive gardens feature Manchurian pear trees and an antique terracotta urn.

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