In its skilful melding of public and private worlds, Guy Sebastian’s stylish home in Sydney’s east never misses a note
If the world’s a stage for singer and songwriter Guy Sebastian, his home on Sydney’s eastern beaches, which he shares with wife Jules and their two children, is no exception. His talents can be on instant display to the steady flow of friends and family who regularly cross its threshold.
Arranged in a U-shape, the home’s his ‘amphitheatre’, his grand piano having pride of place in the central foyer, a raised space within a soaring nine-metre void. When he’s alone, Guy tinkles away, but, when friends drop in, he and Jules throw open the doors along each side of that U and everyone can listen to him perform. If he wants to make a showbiz entrance – not really his style – the helical staircase forged in steel and encased in crisp white render, which descends the void, provides the perfect vehicle.
This is a home that’s full of grand gestures and an element of theatre – it’s a fascinating fusion of both the public and private person, never losing sight of the fact that it’s also a family home for the couple and sons Hudson, seven, and Archer, five. Its moods shift with the time of day and the many purposes to which it is being put.
After a long search, the couple chanced upon this property about six years ago, seduced by its generous 1400 square metres, rare in this suburb, and its proximity to the beach. “We fell in love with the large block. My dream was to have a big backyard and tennis court,” says Guy. The only drawback was that the site was hogged by a 70-year-old bungalow showing its age.
Drawing on the talents of Joe Snell of Studio Snell – a former judge on a home renovation show, he and Guy met through sharing an agent – they bulldozed the old-timer and created a modern four-bedroom, three-level home. Design-savvy Guy and Jules presented Joe with a bursting scrapbook of images from Pinterest and other websites as inspiration for their forever home.
He in turn spent time with the family to suss out their day-to-day needs. “We wanted our home to suit family living, with the children having their own spaces, and also be able to entertain,” says Jules. “I have five principles – space, light, air, view and sound – get those right and it just flows,” says Joe. And flow it does, and not just thanks to him. “Guy and Jules had a distinct style – they loved concrete, steel, glass, and black and white. I had to get them to back themselves and have the confidence to build the house that reflected them. That way they really own it.”
“Joe opened up our world,” adds Guy. “I love it when someone comes in with fresh eyes and unlocks a home’s potential.” With few openings on the facade, the house presents like a bunker to the street (“Yes, it’s fortress-like, but my job is fairly public, so I need some privacy,” says Guy). But walk in the front door and it reveals itself miraculously, with soaring voids and spans soaking up expansive ocean views and, of course, that amphitheatre lies directly before you. “The piano is the first thing you see. It’s a natural stage, especially when the doors are open,” says Joe. Lofty walls of horizontal ribbed concrete soften the void’s verticality, while the spiral stairs complement the curves of the grand piano.
“The foyer and stairs are works of art. I can be sitting at the piano and appreciate all the detail in the concrete,” says Guy. “And that stair was not cheap, but Joe said, ‘think Guggenheim’.” The bravura performance continues down a few steps into the kitchen and family area. Under the six-metre ceiling – with exposed ducts in true warehouse style – sits a massive six-metre-long bench. Adding to the sense of openness, the Freedom Kitchens joinery reads as furniture rather than being built-in.
The black ceiling contrasts with crisp white walls that extend into an ‘air chimney’, a lantern roof that keeps the open-plan cool, generating cross-breezes and minimising the need for air-conditioning. “This is my dream kitchen not just because I love cooking – but also because it is so communal,” says Guy.
In the opposing wing are the children’s media room and a guest room. Above this, up the spiral stairs, sits the main bedroom with an ensuite and generous walk-in, and Guy’s bells-and-whistles recording studio, while the other wing accommodates the two children’s bedrooms. Perched on the top level is the ‘cigar room’, an intimate club-like space with traditional wainscoting walls, a dramatic contrast to the clean finishes downstairs.
The decoration of their home weds their slightly divergent tastes. “I like little pops of extravagance in colour and texture whereas Jules is minimalist and monochromatic, and likes a continuity of grey, black and white,” says Guy. “I think we have found a balance of the two.”
They chose all their own furniture. Guy looks admiringly at the coffee table he selected in the living area, while Jules picked the smart dining room table, but she self-effacingly plays down their role in the accomplished whole. “Get the architecture and the design right – and Joe has taken care of that – and all it really needs is a coffee table book or a vase to finish it off.”
Both say they keep pinching themselves. “We didn’t grow up in houses like this,” says Guy. “Every day, we look at each other and say, ‘Why is this us?’ But there is beauty in feeling like an alien in your own space. You never fail to appreciate it.”
Emotion comes into it,” adds Jules. “It’s somewhere that you can raise children, invite friends and family. This is our home, beautiful and perfect. I love watching the flow of it and seeing where people land.” All that opens and shuts is automated, which the couple are still adapting to. “I thought it would be overwhelming, but it’s easy to set up. I get nerdy. Everything’s voice-activated” says Guy with just a little irony.
Words by: Chris Pearson. Photography by: Dave Wheeler. Styling by: Steve Cordony.