Urban Pulse

Georgina and Miles live to the beat of an inner-city drum in their remarkably remodelled terrace. Yes, you read correctly – this is a terrace house. From the street, it looks like many other period buildings in Darlinghurst, but behind the carefully restored 1910 facade lies a home which is anything but old-fashioned. In fact, it's a true reflection of the city around it: innovative, daring and, most of all, big on fun.

Georgina and Miles had owned the property for some time and were renting it out when they decided to redevelop. While their original DA was knocked back by the local council, their second approach was successful. What happened next was a complete overhaul. “I restored the facade and the boundary wall back to its original form. But as for the rest of it, I gutted the whole place,” recounts Miles, who was the full-time builder on site. “We brought it into the 21st century.” Some would go so far as to say that they took it into the future. While some of the changes – such as including more bathrooms, modernising the kitchen and adding another level – are standard upgrades, Georgina and Miles went further. Stealing ideas from world design capitals such as New York and London, they included features that combine cutting-edge technology and quirky, urban fashion.

A plunge pool on the open-plan ground floor – between the lounge room and the kitchen – is one such feature. It's topped with a glass roof which closes mechanically, so it can be walked over when it's not in use, and the concrete floor means there’s no need to stress when water starts splashing. Although it may seem like an unusual spot to go swimming, Miles believes the family uses it more than they would if it were outdoors. “I've done plunge pools before in apartments and I find that you really use them if they're internal, because you can control the climate of the house and it's quite fun really,” he says. “You just put the spa on, jump in and off you go – it's a jacuzzi.” When the sun is high, you can even sunbake, thanks to the open courtyard in the centre of the house. If the weather is good, the glass roof can be opened for open-air barbecues, while sounds of the city drift in. “Living in an area that's quite alive at night, it can be quite nice to open up the middle of the house,” Miles adds in explanation. “During summer we keep it open virtually all the time. And because the whole house is built around the courtyard, you don't get any foliage or anything coming in. If it rains it's got a sensor and it just closes on its own, and with the concrete floors, even if you get water in the house, everything is built to withstand the elements."

The glass balustrading which soars up from the living room almost seems to poke fun at the skinny stairways you find in most terraces and provides an impressive welcome for guests. “When you're building a house I think you need something that's going to be an eye-opener,” Miles reflects. “Everybody has a first reaction when they walk in. They see the staircase and go 'wow' – they love it.” It also complements the open-plan design, letting more light spill through from the courtyard. “We kept it as open plan as we could,” Miles confirms. “We tried to furnish it off instead of putting walls up. So you can remodel the house 20 different ways. Even the dining table is on casters, so if we've got a big dinner party we can move it all the way out to the front of the house instead of the back.”

Alternatively, for smaller groups, Georgina and Miles go for the chef's table approach. This is a concept catching on around the world, where top restaurants offer a table in the kitchen so VIPs can enjoy an exclusive dining experience. Here, it's more about keeping friends together while the food is prepared, but once again it's worth noting how they've taken the standard approach one step further to make it work for them. In many homes a bench separates the kitchen from the dining area; here the two spaces become one, and the table doubles as a workspace in the galley kitchen. Miles puts the success of the project down to careful planning. The kitchen, for example, was designed with the painting by Martine Emdur and the Tom Dixon copper lights in mind. He also credits James Phillips from Weir Phillips Architects for helping them make the most of the space, and his wife for adding warmth and colour with the furnishings. African and animal motifs imbue a sense of magic in the metropolis – and make the space feel like a playground in the urban jungle. Indeed, for people who like to play, this is an ideal home. “You've got clothes shops, shoe shops, coffee shops, bars... you've got everything,” Miles says. “It's brilliant, and we love it.”




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