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FASHIONED FOR ONE

FASHIONED FOR ONE

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DARRYL GORDON HAS turned countless people’s houses into homes with his interior design skills and eye for the perfect piece over the years, so it’s little surprise that his own place is a study in classical elegance and impeccable taste – for one.

Living and working out of a 1845 colonial cottage in East Sydney in the shadow of the CBD Gordon has created, he laughs, something that’s “all about me”.

“It’s a very selfish kind of a house,” he says standing in the upstairs front room that doubles as his dressing room and television room.

A flat screen TV has been set low on the wall – just perfectly positioned for lying in front of, on the adjacent sofa alone. Upstairs at the back of the house, with a balcony overlooking the home’s shady courtyard, is the master bedroom. Here the walls are finished in an urbane burnt orange and, although it mightn’t be a huge space, the room and its contents somehow tread a fine line between indulgence and restraint.

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It’s also the very antithesis of the more common, contemporary taste for an uncluttered room in which to sleep. There’s a floor-to-ceiling set of bookshelves built in on the wall opposite the bed, complete with ladder. There are three lamps, an armchair, an ottoman and a couple of stools. Under an oval mirror between the room’s two French doors (which open onto a small balcony) is a small Pembroke table.

“It’s the first thing I bought when I was about 19 with my first pay cheque,” says Gordon. “It’s not a particularly great piece, but I’d never part with it.”

On the walls around the bed is a set of antlers and a few framed pieces of Gordon’s favourite art – photography. “It’s something I’ve got into in the last couple of years,” he reveals. “With Australian art it’s really hard now: the prices that major artists are getting means it is not really accessible. But photography is. You can get a fantastic Bill Henson for 10 grand,” he says. “It’s still a lot of money, but it’s accessible to more people and it can only appreciate.”

Gordon’s collection includes works by Max Dupain and his son Rex Dupain and beach scenes by Danielle Thompson and Narelle Autio (a huge Autio dominates the stairwell).

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Between master bedroom and dressing room – just as you come up the stairs — is the bathroom. Again Gordon favours the timeless, old school look. The sink is built into an off-white vanity with a marble top. The plumbing hardware is a British brand Lefroy Brooks.

In the corner of Gordon’s dressing room is an additional (and tiny) shower room. Gordon’s dressing room doubles as a guest room. Directly below, in the cottage’s large front room, is his office – which has necessarily been decorated sparingly. There’s nothing on the walls above the office’s two fireplaces because “I don’t want any art that is determining,” he says. “It’s a working space.”

The boardroom table doubles – technically — as a dining table but “if I’m entertaining I tend use the garden,” he  says. “I’d only have people here if you can’t sit outside.” A consul table, sofa, chairs and coffee in the space are custom made and “kind of standard” or are, in other words, on show to clients.. “It works as a bit of a laboratory,” he says.

Here and there are large quixotic pieces from nature. In the office is a petrified slice of tree that “was fished out of a dam in Thailand. An Asian furniture importer often looks out for quirky architectural things for me,” he says. A client will likely take a fancy to it for their own place.

“Things come and go.”

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“I like creating views through windows and doors to something beyond.”

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Strictly it might be the home’s office-cum-sitting room but it’s really a space that tends to only be used between nine-to-five during the week. “But you never really clock off. You’re always looking at images and thinking about things and ideas will occur to you at odd sorts of times.”

Through a panelled wall beyond the work space is Gordon’s eat-in kitchen, which opens to the back courtyard. “I always wanted to have a kitchen that was big enough to eat in.”

A marble-topped Eero Saarinen table is matched with dark Bentwood chairs on three sides and a banquette, with storage underneath, on the fourth. The space is at once intimate and light-filled and doesn’t open wide to the outdoors, as is typical in renovations of more slavishly contemporary sensibilities. “It comes down to what’s appropriate,” explains Gordon. “The house was built in 1845.”

When Gordon purchased the place, it came complete with approved plans to have these “huge glass doors” to the outdoors. “Which is a nice sort of lifestyle thing,” he says, “but it’s not appropriate to how the house was conceived.”

“I like creating views through windows and doors to something beyond,” he says.

“I think it works in a small space.” Which it refreshingly does. Or at least it does when you have a home furnished, and perfectly balanced, with handsome and exquisite things.

www.darrylgordondesign.com

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ALEX DUPONT

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