If archeologists ever got the chance to dig up an extinct, underground version of Sydney in a millennium or two, and they unearthed the home of restaurateurs Brendan and Rowena McPherson, what would they make of the finishes in their Woollahra home?
Perhaps just more marble benchtops and timber floors in a gussied-up Victorian Italianate mansion. But they’d be wrong.
They are not just timber floors. They are steamed oak timber floors air-freighted from Belgium. The light fittings? They would be Christian Liaigre chandeliers. Not wallpaper either. Ralph Lauren wallpaper for the bathrooms, no less. Those are silk carpets in the bedrooms. And that claw-foot bath in the parents’ retreat? It didn’t just land there. It was craned in because it’s made of steel.
The result of a meticulous two-year renovation by interior designer Thomas Hamel and overseen by Rowena McPherson was completed in time to earn it an eight-page spread in the August 2015 issue of Vogue Living.
It is a very differently finished house to the one the owners of the Rose Bay waterfront restaurant Regatta bought in 2010 for $8 million from the late media executive Ian Law and his widow Roslyn.
At the time the ornate finishes were its best feature, and they remain, set behind the original 1880s facade set well back from the street, and including the original plaster ceiling detail, arches and marble fireplaces.
As well as the finer details, the floorplan has been reworked. Gone is the pool, replaced by a level lawn and two-storey cubby house that would impress those in the tiny-house movement. Related: What makes a house iconicRelated: Woollahra’s early start to springRelated: Eastern suburbs heating up
There is a studio apartment above the double garage, and car turntable if the long driveway is too much. The rear family room still has the double void above the dining area, but scored a tongue-and-groove cladding with pendant lightings.
The pedigreed Woollahra digs, named Icilus on the facade, was bought by the Laws in 2006 for $6.8 million from Gandel Group chief operating officer Dion Werbeloff and his wife Caroline back when he was a Goldman Sachs man.
The McPhersons have listed it with Ben Collier, of The Agency, with a $13 million asking price given plans to trade up to Bellevue Hill nearer the schools attended by their three sons.
Expect to see another full-scale renovation that should leave any future archeologists in no doubt of the sort of splendour enjoyed by the Sydneysiders of today.