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wide blue wonder

From habitat magazine - issue 38, kitchen

A meticulously renovated kitchen in Millers Point is a love letter to the city's maritime history.

One of the difficulties of a heritage renovation is this: when do wear and tear become part of the character of a home? There are more than 100 years of footprints and wear on the hand-cut sandstone in the kitchen of this Federation Queen Anne-style home in Millers Point, Sydney.

A heritage themed kitchen

The kitchen cabinets are brush painted with Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss tinted to Resene Half Ash to keep to the heritage theme. Resene Artemis, a muted slate blue-green, is used on the kitchen island. The hand-painted effect gives the cabinetry a heritage quality and ties in with the sandstone flooring. The kitchen walls are Resene Quarter Ecru White, and the ceiling and window trims are Resene Half Black White.

The four-storey, 158-square-metre home decorated in Resene paints was built in the 1890s. In the decades since, the house, with its timeless slate roof – from the Welsh Slate quarry in Penrhyn – sheltered shipyard workers and families before falling into a tired state. Striking a balance between functional modernity and heritage character was the biggest challenge for lead architect and interior designer Angelique Perak of Sydney’s Studio Duo.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home; it’s a nourishing space physically and mentally. I knew I had to protect the kitchen,” she says.

The home’s 18-month renovation marries tradition with a sleek, heritage-inspired Resene palette. As the building is protected, the renovation had to follow the complex requirements of the Burra Charter, which lays out basic principles and procedures to be followed in conserving important buildings, and the state’s Heritage Council. “This special pocket of Sydney is steeped in history, and we all took the custodian role seriously,” says Angelique.

“We were fortunate that a previous owner had laid pine flooring on the lower ground floor, which could be removed. However, we found sandstone footings for another building underneath, requiring an archaeologist to supervise any work.” The complex demands of the project fused the contractors into a close-knit team. “As we lifted one floorboard, we each carefully completed our task bit by bit. There was simply no time or space to work any other way.”

top tip  If you're painting cabinetry and furniture yourself, use Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss or Resene Enamacryl gloss for a hardwearing, durable finish. Or ask your kitchen supplier to use Environmental Choice approved Resene AquaLAQ, a fastdrying lacquer system for cabinetry, so you get the authentic Resene colour and quality finish.

Painted kitchen cabinets

Kithcen and stairwell

Resene Quarter Ecru White is the primary wall colour throughout the home, with details such as stair risings, trims and ceilings in Resene Half Black White. The stair risers and treads are protected with Resene Uracryl 402, a urethane acrylic suitable for projects requiring extra durability and water resistance. Resene Artemis and Resene Half Ash on the cabinetry and kitchen island provide a coastal aesthetic.

Angelique knew just who to turn to when it came to colour. “I’ve always been a Resene girl – the range is so lovely. Resene offers truly pigmented colours. All the paint had to be approved by the heritage team, so we worked with a traditional palette. I had flakes of the original paint that we tried to match and elevate – I wanted a nod to history with a contemporary twist.”

In the kitchen, as in the rest of the home, Resene Quarter Ecru White was chosen for the interior walls, allowing the velvet texture of the lath and plaster to take centre stage. Daylight softly falls across heritage detailing, black Japanese timber flooring and timeless sandstone. Resene Artemis – used as an anchoring colour – gives the kitchen’s central island a sense of depth and history.

“The Resene Half Ash perimeter cabinetry gives a more contemporary backdrop to extend the space and reflect the natural light,” says Angelique. She elevated the kitchen’s finish with artisan techniques. “Volantes Decorating Service hand-painted the cabinetry in Resene Half Ash to achieve a more authentic result. Their team expertly finished the beautiful texture of the refined brushstrokes. This texture plays perfectly against the double-layer handmade brass grilles, custom-made in England as a respectful homage to the past.”

A courtyard with heritage polychromatic brickwork

An outdoor courtyard area

The courtyard area off the kitchen ties in the heritage polychromatic brickwork and restored flagstone pavers. The timber weatherboards, window trims and steps are painted in Resene Half Canterbury Clay, the soffits are Resene Chelsea Cucumber and the brick perimeter wall is Resene Half Black White. The door, railings and window trims are a custom heritage green – for a similar colour, try Resene Celtic.

The stunning classic kitchen has hidden secrets in the smallest of spaces. The 450-millimetre-wide dishwasher within the kitchen island has a specialised plumbing system, hydronic underfloor heating keeps feet warm on cool mornings and the staircase hides both a pantry and the controls for the home automation, including security, lighting and sound.

The 4m x 3.2m kitchen had its unique challenges. A restoration specialist recast and repaired components for the original oven in the hearth area to working order. However, a modern oven was custom-built to fit within the tight 800mm space in another spot in the kitchen. The proximity to the window and its traditionally thin heritage glass created an issue for a rangehood. Angelique solved the problem by incorporating a downdraft system to rise out of the benchtop, acting as both rangehood and splashback. The disguises didn’t end there. “A family of six needs a large fridge, but it’s not very ‘on theme’. So the fridge is disguised as an armoire, with cupboards on either side – very The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The owners love their old kitchen with the new touches.

History lessons

Angelique advises renovators of heritage properties to engage professionals. “You need a team who understands the unique complexities of heritage properties. Find contractors with a collaborative approach; otherwise, there will be compromises down the track.” When renovating a heritage home, be careful when removing hazardous lead-based paint. Follow Resene’s safety guidelines if you find lead-based paint on your home at If you’re unsure whether your home has lead-based paint, purchase a lead-based paint test kit at your local Resene ColorShop.

Resene Artemis

Design: Studio Duo
Words: Cheree Morrison
Images: Brigid Arnott


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