Interior design studio Duet channel enduring contemporary design for a young family in the refurbishment of a Federation-era home in Sydney’s Bondi.

Sydney design duo Shannon Shlom and Dominique Brammah, the names behind recently established studio Duet, introduce a balance of honest materials, warm tones and bold details to their Watson House redesign. The Federation-era home, located just between Bondi Beach and Tamarama, needed to better accommodate a young family of five and their two dogs. Asked to bring a light-hearted aesthetic and an approach that would see the interiors age gracefully with three young children, Watson House is a breath of fresh air in the way it reflects family life and the original home’s detailing. 

Duet’s brief was to create a timeless and robust family home that could withstand the ‘harsh conditions’ of three young children and age well alongside its family. The design studio retained the Federation features at the front of the home while at the rear, prioritised light, bright and open plan areas that quintessentially lift cues from the Bondi locale.

 The home captures a modern Australian style through monochromatic tones, a careful layering of textures and an open-plan, contemporary living space that flows onto the outdoor living area. The outdoor pool and patio, featuring designer favourites, the Driade Roly Poly Chair by Faye Toogood, and the HAY Palissade outdoor dining setting, enhance the ease of movement and activity from indoors to outdoors.

The home’s monochromatic palette acts as a backdrop for a colourful personality to take hold; “from the outdoors, the kids, the relationships and the guests,” Shannon Schlom says. In the kitchen, black cabinetry and white Calacatta marble benchtops are underpinned by Chevron flooring; this elegant oak flooring also lining the dining, living and hallway areas.

“How can this home go through the many imminent years of rough and tumble and emerge victorious in all its glory? This question informed our design approach. To be visually textural without being too animated.”

– Duet co-director Shannon Shlom

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With longevity in mind, the living area features an olive Miller sofa by Jardan which draws on the green tones in the marble fireplace and surrounding joinery. The Phantom Hands Kangaroo Chair and Nau Fat Tulip Armchairs complete this inviting space. Marble also makes a statement in the bathroom, combined with dark rendered concrete, creamy, tactile wall tiles and black tapware that punctuates the material scheme.

While the design intervention has culminated in a family’s relaxed and robust forever home, Shannon says one of the biggest takeaways that came out of Watson House was friendship, as the project was “an exercise in women working together very fluidly”. She marvels at how they managed to make decisions between the three mothers and seven kids under four years old – a feat unto itself. 

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