A Light-Filled + Colourful Re-Working Of A Dark Sydney Terrace

It’s not uncommon to come across an old terrace that presents lighting and spatial ‘challenges’ or ‘restrictions’ to its hopeful renovator.

This small terrace in Surry Hills, NSW, was such a house. The site, at just 4.1 metres-wide, was orientated west-east with a tall office building on its boundary to the north and an equally tall apartment block across a narrow lane to the east.

Luckily, Brad Swartz Architects ‘love working with restrictions’.

Despite its challenging orientation and size, the site, says architect Brad Swartz, ‘felt unusually green considering its dense inner-city location.’

The proposed renovation therefore aimed to amplify this. ‘We wanted to connect the back to nature,’ explains Brad. ‘Something that always feels amiss in terraces and often in the city.’

Whilst the front rooms on the ground floor — the dining and bedroom — largely remained intact, the architects re-designed and added to the back in order to maximise the site and sense of space.

A central void was installed with ‘lots of skylights’ to flood the home with natural light, while high ceilings and a sunken lounge added to the feeling of space inside.

To connect the home back to nature and maintain a sense of calm away from the busy city, the interior draws on an earthy palette of natural materials and raw finishes, including spotted gum flooring, burnished concrete and Verde Guatemala marble.

‘It feels light, bright and spacious, which is no small feat considering the narrow width, orientation and surrounding buildings,’ explains Brad.

Bright white walls reflect the natural light from above, while the owners’ impressive art collection adds colour, and offers a distinctive focal point within in each space.

But it’s the bathroom and dining room where more saturated hues take centre stage. In the dining, a luxurious forest green wraps the walls, whilst earthen pink tiles line the upstairs bathroom.

‘There’s a warmth to the home,’ says Brad. ‘It really feels like a little oasis in what is actually a pretty dense part of Sydney. But most of all, it feels fun. There’s a joy in the space with the artwork and architecture both working together to create a lot of beautiful moments in the home.’

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