Thousands of books in this parkside house were destroyed by a fire. Ravaged by smoke, water and burning embers, a rare Stuart piano was wheeled out just in time.
Three years later the original “Art noveau” house has been reborn with new joinery, furniture and landscaping.
The rebuilding was a complex exercise that included decontamination of every part of the structure, refinishing and updating to current codes and standards, and reconstruction of lost sections of the house.
The stairwell was partially reconstructed with a new suspended steel stair to the attic replacing the unfortunately positioned old one. Behind the main stair a new two storey library was placed for the regrowing collection, along with a draw bridge leading to the upper level of the library.
The eclectic interior furnishings have been redeveloped like the architecture. Some of the salvaged pieces have been reused while some new elements have been carefully selected by Interior Designer Romaine Alwill to provide a wide range of moods for a house full of character.
The landscaping was also a reconstruction of the old garden damaged by firemen and builders with William Dangar adding a lush fernery that borders the entry path and the new portico.
With the rise of the internet, the idea of a library filled with bookshelves could be considered a rarity. But as technology moves ahead, there's still a loyal and dedicated market for books, and in particular the customised library. "It's an extremely pleasurable experience to reach for a book, even more so when a library has been tailor-made to suit a collection," says architect Luigi Rosselli, who regularly includes wall-to-wall bookshelves in home libraries. "Having walls of books adds another layer to a room," he adds.
Rosselli included an impressive library in an early 20th century home in Centennial Park, Sydney. Built in 1910, the large period three-level home was severely damaged by a fire. The renovation included replacing some of the period features, including an elaborate staircase set within the home's grand entrance.However, rather than completely replacing the original design, Rosselli removed part of the ceiling located behind this staircase.
The result is now a two-level void, approximately one metre in width that allows light to penetrate below (a new skylight was installed). And rather than simply create a bookshelf to cover the wall of the lower level, Rosselli extended the joinery over two levels, so it appears as one continuous design.
While the gap between the bookshelf and stair landing allows for increased natural light, the idea of the owners reaching out for a book from the top tier required attention. "When you press this winch, the balustrade of the staircase lowers to form a platform to stand on," says Rosselli, who compares his design to a levy bridge one might find in a castle. "It's also quite a dramatic backdrop to the entrance," adds Rosselli, who used a combination of American oak and two-pack painted joinery for the bookshelves.