Architect Tom Wills on daringness and teamwork in Balmain
A family retreat from TW Architects and interior designer Nina Maya, this Balmain home has been devised to bring a ‘beach house’ feel into the heart of an Inner Sydney peninsula.
With luxe but pared-back finishes, it’s a beautifully curated space of marble, timber, plastered walls and highlights. Generously proportioned, the three-level residence is designed for relaxed entertaining, with resort-inspired leisure spaces on the lower level.
What sets it apart is the flexibility of a 300sqm interior floorplan. With so many relaxation zones packed into the built-up Balmain area, architect Tom Wills says it wouldn’t have been possible without a careful collaboration process, from ideation to interior design, all the way through to council approvals.
“Every project starts with a good client and we came into this with the willingness to be daring,” Wills says. “While the clients were sensitive to their surrounds, they were very ambitious and willing to push the boundaries.
“That’s why everything works well as a compact house that is now so generous in terms of Balmain family homes.”
The sizeable harbour-fringe site was unusual to find on the peninsula, with the client buying a property that effectively had a piece of vacant land alongside. While opportunities to build a new house are rare in this area, the additional untapped dirt was somewhat unprecedented.
The challenge was to create something to meet council heritage conservation requirements, while ensuring the neighbouring properties wouldn’t be impacted with views or overshadowing. That led the design team to explore the potential of a significant basement retreat.
“If we didn’t unlock those secondary spaces, you wouldn’t be seeing the interest the house has received, and the inspiring feeling I think it imparts on families,” Wills says.
While the main living level comprises indoor/outdoor entertaining areas and outdoor play spaces with a pool and cabana, the basement is dedicated to the cinema, gym and games room. The interiors achieve maximum solar access through the use oversized skylights, with external louvres balancing the need for privacy, as well as access to the views.
With wall-to-wall bi-fold doors to the backyard, the poolside spaces feel like part of the interiors, set within the walled backyard setting and landscaped grounds.
Also defining the home is the interior designer finish. Inside, the craftsmanship and architectural detail is obvious from the stonemason-constructed fireplace to the Marmarino plaster walls. Italian travertine features alongside French oak floorboards, seamlessly melding wth the Arabescato marble and accents of bronze and silk.
“Taking the time with the client to design it properly and ensure there is consistency with quality of materials and dedicated tradespeople is key,” Wills says. “These sorts of buildings are all about the willingness to follow it through.”
View: the listing here.