This 1870s Sydney Home Is A Mini Modern Art Gallery

This 1870s Sydney Home Is A Mini Modern Art Gallery


by Lucy Feagins, Editor

The backyard has been transformed to feature an automatic awning, integrated storage, ample seating, and lush landscaping.

Knoll 1966 Table designed by Richard Schultz. Knoll Bertoia Side Chairs designed by Harry Bertoia.

Common Project agency director Ben Barratt-Boyes, and interior designer and founder of Studio P3 Pablo Albani, with their French bulldogs George and Maddie in their backyard. Caleb Shea sculpture.

Caleb Shea sculpture.

La Chance Bolt stool. Jardan sofa, armchair and rug. Artemide Tolomeo Mega Floor lamp. ‘Turk Lane’ photographic print by Michael Parekowhai. Walter Knoll Oki Stone Table. Muuto Kink Vase. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

Jardan sofa rug. Muuto Kink Vase. ‘dottori’ sculpture by Seung Yul Oh. ‘Rainbow Servant Dreaming’ sculptures on wall by Michael Parekowhai. Oluce Atollo Table LampHappy Yeti Vase designed by Jaime Hayon for BD Barcelona. Est Lighting Cometa pendant. HAY Revolver Bar Stool from Cult. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

‘On the Rocks at Arthur’s Pool, Santa Monica’ (1976) by Hugh Holland. ‘Pokpo’ by Seung Yul Oh. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

‘Craig Keller’ photographic print by Michael Parekowhai. Jardan bed and throw. Flos Taccia Lamp. ‘Quatrefoil’ sculpture by Max Gimblett. ‘Pou Sto’ sculpture by Seung Yul Oh. Neosabers light saber. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

‘Portrait of Ed Brown’ photographic print by Michael Parekowhai. Poliform bed. Jardan bed linen and throw. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

Flos Bellhop Table LampVitra Prismatic Table designed by Isamu Noguchi. Areaware Hanno the Gorilla wooden figures designed by David Weeks. Peter Stichbury artwork. Wardrobes made by Trademark Joinery. Tongue & Groove oak chevron flooring. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

‘Kapa haka (maquette)’ sculptures by Michael Parekōwhai. Dulux Lexicon Quarter paint colour.

Olde English Tiles tesselated tiles.


Pablo Albani and Ben Barratt-Boyes recall they did a ‘terrible job of playing it cool’ when inspecting this inner-city Sydney house for sale.

The couple had been itching to leave their Surry Hills one-bedroom apartment, and they had finally found a home of their own.

‘The house had a lovely feel to it… We walked through the front door, looked at each other, and knew this was the one we wanted,’ says Pablo.

Naturally, as an interior designer and founder of Studio P3, Pablo wanted to make his own mark on the property, so they immediately embarked on a 16-week renovation built by Woodhouse Projects.

The structure and layout of the house (which had already been given a contemporary makeover by a previous owner) was largely unchanged, but almost every element outside of the kitchen and bathroom was touched. ‘Everything from the tiles at the front door (including the front door!) to the garden at the rear are our doing,’ says Pablo.

Rotting skirting boards, architraves, cornices, windows, and floors were all replaced and new insulation and an underfloor ventilation system was installed. ‘The new oak flooring went down and the place instantly came to life,’ Pablo says.

The renovation also added significant storage to the property, including floor-to-ceiling wardrobes in both bedrooms, and a huge 40 square metre attic. 27 large rubbish bags of debris were removed in the process!

The garden underwent the biggest transformation of all. What was a short deck and car park became a year-round space for entertaining, complete with an automatic awning, integrated storage, ample seating, and lush landscaping.

‘It’s a space we spend a lot of time in all year round,’ says Pablo. ‘It extends so seamlessly from the lounge, and with the doors open and the awning out, you feel like you’re still inside.’

Ben and Pablo collect art, and this house is great at displaying it. ‘For us, art is a way to connect to family, childhood memories, and our roots,’ Pablo explains.

Most of their collection is by prominent New Zealand artists (where Ben is originally from) and each piece holds hidden meaning. For example the Turk Lane photographic print by Michael Parekōwhai represents one of the trenches in France where New Zealand troops, including Ben’s great grandfather, fought in WWI.

Animals are a prominent theme throughout the collection, including the fibreglass sculpture works of Seung Yul Oh, that give the house a unique personality. ‘Pokpo (the mouse) is something of a happy surprise. He’s unexpected and makes you smile, says Pablo.

‘You could say that art has been a main driver in the design of our home. I don’t think we could ever part with any of the pieces we have.’

Dulux Lexicon Quarter provides a fresh, cool backdrop throughout the home that allows the artwork to really sing.

Even with these precious pieces, Ben and Pablo’s home is still a relaxed, comfortable space to be lived in. The door is always open to friends and family who the couple love hosting in their private inner-city haven. ‘We both migrated from other countries and feel pretty lucky to have a bolt-hole in one of Australia’s greatest cities.’

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