Step inside the Sydney terrace of award-winning architect Eva-Marie Prineas and discover her passion for preserving its storied past.
Studio Prineas principal, Eva-Marie leads her Sydney-based architectural firm with two fundamental values: heritage conservation and sustainable design. Her philosophy of “understanding and adapting places that are already special” rings true in the reimagining of her own 1890s Victorian Italianate home.
The kitchen features a custom island bench designed by Studio Prineas and built by Finch Projects. The adjoining dining room includes the Koskela AC dining table surrounded by Thonet Le Corbusier chairs. A bark painting adorns the back wall created by Jimmy Nyalalkaya (circa 1915-1989), Wandurrk, 1974.
Eva-Marie set out to respect the existing narrative of her inner west Sydney terrace home while instilling a greater sense of purpose and comfort. “I love the nuances between the classical and contemporary elements throughout the home. There is no clear separation between old and new,” she says.
The home is detached from both sides with access to light and ventilation, unusual for most terrace dwellings. As with all Studio Prineas projects, the aim was to conserve as much of the original building as possible while making way for present-day additions in an empathetic way. “The archways of the original, grand rooms at the front of our home were restored to form a greater sense of connectedness within the house and its relationship with the street,” Eva-Marie reflects.
Sustainability was paramount throughout the design process. “We retained the original hardwood timber floorboards, sanding, and polishing them after enduring many years under layers of carpet and lino,” Eva-Marie says. “One of the first design decisions we made was also to install solar panels to the north-facing roof at the rear. The original double brick structure keeps the house remarkably cool in warmer months with no need for mechanical cooling.”.
Sharing her 130-year old home with her husband Peter and their two teenage sons, it was crucial the design could withstand ‘life’ while also offering flexibility as the family’s needs evolved. For this reason, design decisions revolved around adaptability. Eva-Marie chose to lightly bag and paint existing brick walls in one hue to ensure re-touching was effortless. Rugs were chosen over carpet so they could be easily replaced if necessary. At the same time, tiles in the kitchen, rumpus room and secondary living rooms were specified for their durability and ease of maintenance.
Despite a narrow footprint, by removing redundant alterations from years past, Eva-Marie revealed the true proportion of the home. The home’s original architraves, cornices, ceiling roses, and mouldings were retained without sacrificing its original character. As the kitchen space is one of the only new structural additions, replacing a dilapidated bathroom, tiled flooring was specified. Eva-Marie explains, “Rather than infill timber boards which would be almost impossible to match, we made a deliberate material change to the floor. This tiled finish carries through to the threshold between the dining room and deck and the circular shape of the penny rounds is repeated in the cladding to the island bench.”
A contemporary white palette provides a crisp backdrop while earthy hues feature throughout in soft olives, mustards, and terracotta, with punches of black. Tallowwood timber flooring provides warmth flowing from the entrance right through to the deck area outside.
The seamless flow to the external deck invites the outdoors in, complete with a repurposed fireplace providing a practical year-round entertaining space. This is Eva-Marie’s favourite design detail, “When the sun sets, it’s the perfect spot to savour a long winter’s afternoon,” she says. “With two teenage boys who love having their friends over, the deck has become a focal point. They can often be found outside making pizza with their friends or relaxing around the fireplace in the winter months.”
Eva-Marie acknowledges her heritage home always had a strength of character. “Over the past nine years, we’ve added layers and personality to gently blend the classical with the contemporary in an empathetic way,” she says. “We aimed to create a truly liveable home, but also reflect the longevity of architecture, through bold choices and considered problem-solving.”.