In the eastern Sydney suburb of Woollahra, designer Doris Sykes is about to tackle her own renovation.
Ms Sykes is linking up two adjoining houses she owns on the same street, turning the smaller, one-bedroom house into a second bedroom for the house she lives in next door.
She hasn’t had a spare bedroom since turning the upper storey of her existing house into one large bedroom for herself
“We’re just going through one of the cupboards, it’s that easy,” Ms Sykes told The Australian Financial Review. “It’ll still look like a cupboard, but there’s one [door] you walk through into another house. It’s going to be gorgeous.”
Ms Sykes’ Woollahra renovation hasn’t yet been to the local council for approval and as a result, doesn’t feature in the official figures that this week showed a 10.8 per cent jump to $652 million worth of renovations and alterations nationally. Once approved, however, the job that her builder, Sven Johnsen, values at between $500,000 and $600,000 will certainly add to the official total.
It would be a gorgeous job, but it would take up to 20 weeks and not be as easy as Ms Sykes described, Mr Johnsen said.
To join up the houses required punching through two boundary walls, removing fireplaces and moving other walls. The cupboards had to be pulled out and rebuilt, he said.
“It’s quite a complicated build,” Mr Johnsen said. “We portray it as being simple.”
To stain the concrete floors Ms Sykes wants, he will cover the surface with dirt and salt, and leave it for three weeks. The walls will be raw plaster. A steel and glass skylight in the ceiling of the new house will support a $30,000 crystal chandelier.
“It’s difficult in this country trying to find finishes and things you like,” Ms Sykes said. “I’m not a slick, modern person, I’m more country in the true sense – of a little French farmhouse, very earthy. We’re getting things ordered now – a wonderful stove from Florence. I’m desperate to get things ordered and done.”