Before this home in South Yarra got the Tamsin Johnson treatment, it was an outdated mustard-coloured two-storey, with a poky 90s renovation. There were glass brick feature walls and partitions where there shouldn’t be – in the words of Tamsin, it was ‘actually comical!’. The whole place urgently required flow, continuity and cohesion as one space.
‘We looked to mid-century style to suit the house and accentuate the bones we fell in love with,’ says Tamsin of the approach she took to updating her sister’s home.
The block is long and narrow, meaning there was very little access to light. To remedy this classic problem, the threshold was located at the centre of the property, positioning the entrance hall in the belly of the house with wings unfolding towards the front and back. This layout created pockets for internal voids, and a small courtyard to siphon more light into the space; yet it still remained dark.
As her first port of call, Tamsin devised a new tiered, open-plan layout for the ground floor, opening up the living spaces so each communal zone could spill into its neighbour. She filled in the courtyard, repositioned the clunky U-shaped kitchen, and installed huge steel-framed windows on the ground floor to ensure light carried from the sunken living room at the front of the house to the original conservatory-style breakfast nook at the rear.
Essentially, the designer created a tunnel of light that draws the whole floorplan together.
Once this sense of spatial cohesion was achieved, Tamsin set about updating the finishes throughout the home, and sourcing unique design pieces to inject a sense of personality.
For example, banquette seating upholstered in red and white striped fabric was paired with an antique French dining table made from cane, lending an eclectic feel to the breakfast nook. Cane furniture throughout provides a connective thread to the house’s textural rhythm, uniting the offbeat interior scheme from room to room.
‘She’s my best friend and we have very similar taste so it was a very easy process,’ says Tamsin of working for her sister, Tess. ‘They gave me complete creative license.’
And the results speak for themselves! The finished project ‘has a real ebb and flow of life,’ says Tamsin. Hence its name: the ‘Sanctuary’ home.
See more projects from Tamsin Johnson here.
Tamsin’s new book ‘Spaces for Living‘ is out now, purchase it here. Copies will be available at all good bookstores and on Tamsin’s own website from September 15th.
Spaces for Living by Tamsin Johnson is published by Rizzoli, and out now!
Light floods into the main space courtesy of the conservatory-style glazing. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The kitchen was previously poky, U-shaped and in a completely different part of the ground floor, blocking light from the rear windows and preventing flow between communal spaces. Now it is perfectly integrated into the new scheme. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The colour palette is understated but the marble is gregarious! Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The antique French cane table and banquette seating covered in Ralph Lauren fabric create the perfect breakfast nook! Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The home bar fits snugly into a nook. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The conservatory-style windows in the breakfast nook were part of the original house, and form a key part of the light tunnel that connects the front and back of the house. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Looking down at the dining room table from the staircase. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
A serene moment overlooking the courtyard. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The sunken lounge! Tamsin’s fresh new layout created an open plan, tiered floorplan that allowed the spaces to spill into one another. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Cane furniture throughout the house knits the interior palette together cohesively. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The crazy paved fireplace flute is a striking centrepiece! Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The main bathroom contains some art-deco geometry. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
Crazy paving in the bathroom provides textural continuity throughout the house. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The main bedroom is more traditional. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The stoneware basin and chrome hardware gives the outdoor bathroom a provincial, classical feel. Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The. quirky curved exterior was painted white which, when the cactus garden was put in, gives it Californian vibes! Photo – Sean Fennessy.
The rear courtyard was landscaped to include greenery, decking and a plunge pool. Photo – Sean Fennessy.