My clients had purchased a rambling old property in Bellevue Hill, which was originally part of the Scots College boarding house. It had a lot of potential, given it’s very unusual to find this sort of space in the eastern suburbs.

However, this dilapidated old building (built in the early 1900s) had very long hallways and contained a mishmash of dark and poky rooms. It seemed silly to me that so many rooms were small and dark, considering the location and size of the property.

I concentrated on the logistics of how the spaces worked and set about improving the proportions. The clients were a family with five children, so they needed a lot of room. Moving the walls and increasing the size of individual areas was key to the project’s success.

The clients were passionate about keeping as many pre-existing features as possible, in order to maintain the building’s character. Therefore, when we relocated the windows, we kept the original frames.

One of the biggest things I did was open up a small sunroom at the back, extending it and adding a deck and new kitchen. This created a substantial family living area. I widened dining rooms and corridors and added new bathrooms, an upstairs balcony and a new swimming pool.

The interior colours and finishes were designed by Karen Gordon Interiors. For the colours inside, a neutral colour scheme was selected. Because the timbers were so dark, we felt they needed something to soften them and lighten their look. Vibrant artworks around the house also provide splashes of colour.