From street level, Kerrie-Ann Jones’ Sydney home looks small (the garage alone seems to take up half of it). But this is deceptive. The 1950s waterfront home spans two floors and includes two kitchens, two living rooms, four bedrooms, six bathrooms, a home office, a small recording studio, a gym and a swimming pool. “It’s a lot more space than we need,” admits Jones, though the former magazine editor-turned-stylist has made it her mission to make every corner count.
Her line of work certainly prepared her for the feat (she’s the founder of the online interior styling school The Stylist Lab; she recently launched a YouTube series; and she co-hosts a podcast about prominent Australian interior brands, designers , artists and makers), but so are her many years of renovation. This home is the fourth Jones has owned — she started young, buying her first apartment at 21 while working two jobs to afford the mortgage and construction. “I wanted it more than anything,” she recalls.
After living for a time in a terraced house in Darlinghurst, in inner-city Sydney, Jones and her husband Andrew longed for more open space and living in a coastal location. During their house hunt in 2020, they prioritized north-facing properties because it’s “the best sun angle here in Sydney,” she points out. It was clear from the start that the home’s original owners had style: Original features include cobalt blue tiles in the bathroom, silver disco wallpaper in the dining area, and pastel yellow kitchen cabinets.
The problem was, apart from the floor above, most of those details were rotted, broken or rusted. Jones was careful to replicate some of the elements, like the spiral steel staircase outside that boasts an old-school perforated pattern but meets today’s code standards. She even opted for more expensive wooden windows over modern aluminum. “While it was much more expensive and labor intensive, it was one of the only ways we could honor the house’s original heritage,” she shares.
With a little help and guidance from her father, who is a mason and sandstone mason, Jones decided to make the house work for her family of four by adding an extension to the garage and the children’s wing at the front of the house, add the roof, reduce the pool and combine two bedrooms into one master suite. She conveniently moved the living space, bedrooms and laundry to the upper level so that no one had to lug their dirty clothes up and down the stairs.
Then there were some decisions that took a little longer for Jones to make, like finding the right stone to use in the kitchen. Finally, she settled on a Brazilian quartzite with sparkling flecks and swirling veins that is not only mesmerizing to look at while she cooks, but is “surprisingly easy to clean, and it doesn’t stain,” she notes.
With the island as the kitchen’s hero piece, Jones didn’t want to overcomplicate things elsewhere, which is part of the reason she opted for a streamlined, plaster-covered vent hood. Rounding off the sides of the island and the fireplace in the adjacent living area created a cohesive look and also relieved some tension. “I designed them with my children in mind,” she says. “I was worried that they would bang their heads against the corners.”
The open shelves were everything to her: “I’m very short! I can’t easily get to overhead cabinets,” she says. Plus, as a stylist, having a place to display treasured objects and cookbooks feeds her creativity in her off hours. Even the tall plinth in the nearby dining area, made from leftover travertine onyx from the fireplace addition, is an ever-evolving arrangement of small sculptures and fresh flowers.
Obsessed with the look of palladiana-patterned terrazzo, Jones decided to replicate the look on a much more impressive scale in the bathroom with large-format offcuts of marble (some are scraps from the fireplace; others were sourced from vendors on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree). Jones’ father crushed them, and the subcontractor put them in place. The other bathrooms have a mosaic tile version of the same arrangement, which was much easier to install. In the primary bedroom, she struck a warmer note by lining the wall in walnut cabinets with grasscloth wallpaper inserts and brass handles.
On any given day when the sun is shining in Sydney, Jones and her two children will head to the beach or take a dip in the pool and end the evening later on the terrace. “I have always been attracted to life by the water. My first two apartments were in coastal suburbs and I loved them,” she shares. “It’s very peaceful just to sit on the balcony and watch the boats bobbing on the bay.” The view is so well it even turns her head away from the kitchen island.