2018 Sydney Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Photo Credit : Thomas Dalhoff


Project Overview

A creative couple, who have a passion for contemporary art, and there 2 young children living in an ornate Period Home. While respecting the architecture and detailed ornamentation, we transformed their home to reflect the creative energy of the family. The result is a home that is simultaneously traditional and contemporary.

Project Commissioner


Project Creator

Brett Mickan Interior Design


Brett Mickan
Nick English
Kim Nguyen

Project Brief

The clients admired the level of detail in this ornate, period home, however they didn’t wish to live in a restoration. They wanted their home to reflect their love of contemporary art and suite the lifestyle of their young family.
The major issue with the layout was the connection between the kitchen and family room. The kitchen was a room full of moulding detail, angled walls, glass cabinets and stepped ceilings and only partially open to the family room. The result was a room that was way too visually loud and swamped the adjoining family room space. It was our task to create a kitchen that had far less of a visual presence yet still married to the architecture while providing a lot of storage. The bathrooms had a faithful period restoration by the previous owner. Without gutting the entire space, it was our task to transform these areas into contemporary rooms.

Project Innovation/Need

Although the clients were not happy with how heavy the existing layers of ornamentation felt, they had been attracted enough to the property to purchase it. I needed to find a way to honour the architectural detail while transforming the home from traditional to contemporary. Taking my cues from the existing stained glass details, I layered the home in colour and pattern. Colour was used to guide you through the home with a bold terracotta hue to delineate the entrance and centre hallway from the adjoining spaces. Custom designed rugs and luxurious fabrics were used to balance the level of detail in the house. We created spaces that highlight the art work, where the combination of materials and finishes allowed the rooms to became works of art in their own right.

Design Challenge

The design challenge was to celebrate the ornate details while simultaneously diminishing its visual impact. We created modern interiors that belong to the home, don’t fight the existing spaces, and will not date quickly. We used existing colour, materials and complexity of pattern as our design trigger. We gutted the kitchen / family area to open it up and allow it to function for contemporary living. This was achieved by continuing to speak the architectural language of the building through moulding and materials, and selecting furniture and fittings that honoured the hand crafted tradition of the house.


As much as possible we endeavoured to transform the existing spaces rather than demolish and start a new. For example, the ornate tiling in the bathrooms was retained. We installed contemporary fixtures and custom designed a contemporary vanity to make the tiling the stand out feature rather than a dated detail. Where possible, we reconditioned client’s existing pieces and added vintage pieces of various periods that continued this design balance of old and new.

This award celebrates innovative and creative building interiors with consideration given to space creation and planning, furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation. Consideration also given to space allocation, traffic flow, building services, lighting, fixtures, flooring, colours, furnishings and surface finishes.
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