An award-nominated family home in jewel tones | Shona McElroy

A palette of emerald and bronze creates calm luxury alongside marble and Venetian plaster. Sydney / Australia / 2021

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This duplex is owned by a young family who gave Shona McElroy, principal of Smac Studio, enormous creative freedom. The home features modern design with a touch of old-world Europe — as seen in the Venetian plaster finishes, marble bathrooms and herringbone floors. Despite having an internal width of only 4.8 meters and a shared wall with no windows, the home still has ample natural light and lots of elegant personality. Outstanding features include a curvaceous powder room, a cantilevered kitchen island that allows four people to sit face-to-face and a curved marble staircase at the entrance.


The emerald powder room is the star of this build. Moody and encapsulating, the space is intended to evoke a cave of wonders, particularly when the Petra sconce by Christopher Boots shines its rose-quartz glow. To avoid making it feel wedged under the stairs, McElroy used flexible plywood to embrace every possible curve in the space. “It’s small and windowless, so I thought rather than trying to brighten it up with white paint I’d lean into the dark, tactile side of things,” she says. Unable to fit in the floor-to-ceiling mirror originally planned, McElroy pivoted, adding two semicircular corner mirrors reflecting each other. “It’s become quite a playful space with that little optical illusion,” she says.


During the design phase, the Elba marble staircase at the entrance took priority over all else. To make it work McElroy performed some spatial acrobatics, shrinking the powder room and entrance vestibule, as well as reconfiguring the upstairs. “We thought the staircase was going to be the hero, but now everyone keeps going on about the powder room,” says the owner.


Green and jewel tones continue throughout the house, in the Verde Antique marble at the entrance and the esmeralda quartzite in the kitchen. Suspended by a steel internal support, McElroy designed the island bench to comfortably accommodate four people sitting face-to-face. “Spaces should be conversational,” she says. The stone is jewel-like and took many months to source. “It’s got depth and character, but it’s also quite airy. Kind of ethereal,” says McElroy. Being quartz, it’s also incredibly hardy. “We’ve spilled red wine all over it and it just wipes right off,” says the owner. The emerald stone on the island is carried through to the stove area, where it frames the burnished brass rangehood. “The quartz has a kind of bronze veining that echoes the rangehood,” says McElroy. “This zone makes me think of an antique necklace worn with a sage green dress.”


The owner of this home is a property developer and on completion he signed Smac Studio for his next three projects. “I’m kind of an intense person, I always want to improve and be better,” he says. “In my job I see a lot of beautiful houses, but this is the first time I’ve been satisfied with what I have. I come home and think, “‘There’s nowhere else I’d rather live.’”


 

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    This duplex is owned by a young family who gave Shona McElroy, principal of Smac Studio, enormous creative freedom. The home features modern design with a touch of old-world Europe — as seen in the Venetian plaster finishes, marble bathrooms and herringbone floors. Despite having an internal width of only 4.8 meters and a shared wall with no windows, the home still has ample natural light and lots of elegant personality. Outstanding features include a curvaceous powder room, a...

    Project details
    • Year 2021
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Single-family residence
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