Who lives here: Leah Taylor, interior designer, stylist and the force behind homewares shop The Minimalist; her husband, Darius, who works in finance, and their cat, Asher.
Style of house: A four-storey one-bedroom Sydney terrace with
a retail store on the ground level.
Timeline: Leah and Darius gave their home a cosmetic makeover that took nine months.
Cost: Around $20k to update the kitchen, balcony and rooftop, as well as refreshing the interior.
Leah and Darius moved into the iconic Porter’s Paints building in Sydney’s Surry Hills four years ago, and although the exterior was certainly eye-catching, the interior, balcony and rooftop needed work.
The ground level of the building is home to Leah’s homewares store, The Minimalist. A separate entry takes you to the second floor and into the open-plan kitchen, dining and living area of their home. The bedroom and bathroom cover the entire third floor, flowing out onto a large undercover balcony and stairs leading up to the rooftop terrace. Despite not owning the building, the pair has been able to give the interior a much-needed refresh due to the long-term commercial lease agreement they have with the owners. “We would love to buy the property if we had the option – we can definitely see ourselves staying here for a long time yet!” says Leah.
When the couple moved in, the original kitchen had white open shelves and cupboards covered with a brown ‘timber look’ laminate. “The walls were a very dark charcoal colour with one bright red feature wall,” says Leah. The priority, when it came to making updates, was to simplify and streamline the kitchen’s look, giving the space a monochromatic overhaul. “We did that by adding matte black cabinetry, new handles and by painting the surrounding walls a very light grey,” explains Leah. “We didn’t do much but the overall effect changed the entire feel of the space.”
The kitchen features a commercial grade oven and cooktop and a three-metre-long custom-made dining table from Cafe Culture + Insitu that is perfect for entertaining guests. Leah chose three Mud Australia pendant lights over the dining setting to create a sense of repetition, while her favourite parts of the new design are the open feel of the space and the subway tiles with black grout, which she changed from white using a black grout pen.
Despite a monochromatic scheme throughout the home, Leah has managed to create a space that feels warm and inviting. “The timber floors and textured brick walls soften the look and keep it from feeling too clinical,” she says. The interior was revitalised with a fresh lick of paint, and sheer linen curtains add another texture. A pale grey on the walls of the combined kitchen and living area helps to unify the interior in its minimalist form.
The pair topped off the style facelift with the rooftop garden, completely stripping it back to its bones. They kept the wood-fired pizza oven intact, and installed a bar beside it for easy prep, as well as outdoor lighting and a sound system. Making sure the rooftop was fit for entertaining was a must. “We use the space all the time. We have a New Year’s Eve party up there every year and lots of other occasions throughout the year like birthdays, Halloween dress-up parties or even just summer afternoon drinks,” says Darius. Staying true to the home’s colour palette, the rooftop features shades of grey, black and white, accented by garden greenery.
Leah and Darius’ home is a reflection of Leah’s distinctive personal style. “I like simplicity and texture, and having just a few really strong key pieces and minimal clutter,” she says. “I’ve always loved simplicity. As a child I always wanted to wear white and it’s still the most calming and serene colour for me. Life is crazy busy enough and I like my home to be calm and uncluttered, filled only with the things I love the most.”
“I learnt a little patience. Once I get an idea, I want to do it right away and that’s not always possible,” Leah Taylor, homeowner.
“Thankfully we didn’t make any big or costly mistakes, and I think that’s due to taking the process of renovating slowly, and making sure we researched all the variables first.”
Best surprise: “The rooftop area worked out so well. It wasn’t even used by the previous residents, so clearing everything out of the space, opening it up and seeing its full potential was really exciting.”
What I’d do differently: “We were only able to give our kitchen a minor facelift but I would’ve loved to put in a completely new kitchen with deeper cabinets and more drawers.”
For more on Leah’s shop The Minimalist, visit theminimalist.com.au.