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Reno special: A designer renovation completed in six weeks

A design-savvy homeowner reinvented a rundown property into a family home in a six-week intensive makeover


Tom Williams is used to working to tight deadlines to create cool interiors. It’s what he does as part of his job for Juicy Design. When it came to creating a home that would one day be suitable for a family, he had years of experience at his fingertips. He also had a homeware shop, Project 82 in Sydney’s Surry Hills at his disposal, as he is a partner in the business.

Tom and his wife Belinda Williams bought their property in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, complete with ocean view, in July 2008, making an offer pre-auction, and rented it out for two years until they could afford to move in. It took six weeks of intensive renovating before they settled in to their new home. Here’s what they did.


1. Getting started
The couple had been attracted to the house’s space and views, as well as its “good bones”, which they could picture themselves adding their touch to. However, after two years of tenants it was looking tired. “A bathroom needed urgent replacing, the kitchen was tiny and the garden was unusable,” says Tom. He devised a plan to tackle the kitchen, living areas and bathroom and to gut the entire top floor, which had been added by previous owners.


2. Decor decisions
Coming up with the look and feel of the interior was easy, Tom and Belinda simply looked to their surroundings. “The ocean and the light greatly affected the design,” says Tom. They opted for a clean base, using neutral materials including blonde timber, stone and white walls. “Our style is light, natural and eclectic in a contemporary way,” says Tom.


3. Living is easy
The living room is located on the upper floor and looks towards the ocean. It receives lots of morning light, making it a beautiful spot to relax in and was therefore a key focus for Tom’s redesign plan. The entire storey was remodelled and a sense of openness created by connecting the living room to the deck with the use of stackable doors, one of Tom’s favourite features. The deep-seated sofa is from Tom’s shop Project 82. The hanging pod chair is Tom and Belinda’s top spot to sit and read a book.


4. Time is money
Completing the renovation in a whirlwind six weeks kept costs down, but also put a strain on the couple’s work/life balance. The couple moved into the house in September 2010, just three months before getting married, and completed the kitchen in the first two weeks of living there. “It’s always tough to renovate when you are also running your own business,” says Tom. “But it’s good to have a tight timeframe to keep things on track.”


5. Kitchen cure
The once-tiny kitchen was redesigned to make more efficient use of the space. Handle-less cabinetry keeps the look streamlined and a kitchen island provides extra bench space. Mosaic Carrara marble tiles were used for the splashback and the benchtop is Caesarstone. The kitchen cabinetry extends to include a wall of open shelving filled with colour-coded books. The marble-topped dining table was reclaimed from a French restaurant.


6. For art’s sake
Artwork is a key design feature throughout the house. A mini gallery wall can be found in the dining room, hallway and in the entrance to the downstairs sleeping quarters. Tom has collected many works over the years during his travels.


7. Double time
Think about how rooms can be used in new ways. The office is at the front of the house and had previously been a bedroom. It could easily be converted into a child’s bedroom, with its neutral palette a blank canvas upon which to add to. Tom has furnished the office with a colourful, industrial-style desk, plus chairs and a rug from Project 82. The artworks are from Peter Naaf Framing.


8. Ask the expert
Tom’s background in design allowed him to project-manage the renovation to his exacting specifications. The three-level house needed work, and Tom’s magic touch. “We primarily bought the house to be close to the ocean, and to have somewhere that we could get ready to have a family.”


9. Bedtime bliss
The downstairs level is now the bedroom zone and underwent cosmetic changes such as new floor surfaces. The carpets were all replaced and the walls were painted in Taubmans ‘Flat White’. The master bedroom (pictured opposite and below right) is also on the ground floor and opens out onto a balcony, decorated in lush green plating. A green Eames rocking chair brings the colours of nature inside and a bright orange Eames ‘DSW’ chair brings a hit of colour to the bedside. The typography artwork hanging above was created by Tom.


10. Final details
In the hallway downstairs, pops of character are provided bya bright green Armadillo & Co rug, an oversized mirror and a huge number six, found at an auction house. Tom also added reclaimed bricks to sections of the house to add interest. It’s these creative touches that make the house a home. “We included interesting detail, such as reclaimed doors and Carrera mosaics, to add our own personality. But it’s a constantly changing environment that we don’t intend to stay still.”

Words by: Natalie Walton and Johanna Thornton. Photography by: Chris Warnes/Warnes and Walton/Real Living.