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No expense spared at Claire Rendall's Sydney Harbour project

by Phoebe Liu on Apr 18, 2017 in Interiors
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In ‘The Indian Room’, the designer created an aubergine tadelac wall and ceiling backdrop, with a door salvaged from an Afghan merchant’s
house and given a new lease of
life as a dramatic headboard

In ‘The Indian Room’, the designer created an aubergine tadelac wall and ceiling backdrop, with a door salvaged from an Afghan merchant’s house and given a new lease of life as a dramatic headboard

Every interior designer dreams of delivering a completed project of uncompromising excellence, exactly to the client's specifications — how many can say that, four years on, a client has not changed a single thing since moving in? London-based designer Claire Rendall can, and tells Perspective it's because "we care about the details"

With a rare few exceptions, the homes we see photographed for the pages of glossy magazines (not unlike this one) are styled to look 'just so'; to achieve to closest possible approximation to a designer's idea of what the ideal should be. Once the photographer has left and the designer has handed back the keys, real life takes over and, inevitably, the client will make changes — move a sofa here, change the wallpaper there, and so on.

Folding floor-to-ceiling glass doors enable an unbroken panorama of the Sydney Harbour lights at night

Folding floor-to-ceiling glass doors enable an unbroken panorama of the Sydney Harbour lights at night

For London-based designer Claire Rendall, creator of luxury interiors and furnishings covering high-end projects from Elizabethan stately homes to this contemporary Sydney Harbourside project, the client's initial reaction to the project said it all: "I never thought it would be this beautiful," he said.

Now, four years on from completion, the residence remains as Rendall left it, with not a single piece changed. The key to this kind of success, she says, is listening: "When starting a project, we always ask the client to sum up a few words what they would like to see in the project," she explains. "We hate to trudge out the same old style and want to make a client's dream home come true. We have a strong ability to pick out from seemingly casual conversations what will make the client tick and get into the psyche of what a client wants."

In the kitchen, Carrara marble worktops complement the units in dovetailed solid walnut, with burr walnut edges in ebony on the cabinet doors

In the kitchen, Carrara marble worktops complement the units in dovetailed solid walnut, with burr walnut edges in ebony on the cabinet doors

What the client wanted in this instance was for the design to be "sumptuous". Rendall designed most of the furnishings in the residence. "Our bespoke furniture is always one-off for the time and place," she says, pointing to a Burmese rain drum on a bespoke base used as a table, and the walnut console table inlaid with silver. In the sitting room, the cushions are made from vintage carpets or camel saddle bags to bring a richness of colour and texture.

A 200-year old French oak staircase in the entrance area has a bespoke brushed aluminium handrail, blending in with solid walnut skirting boards and doorframes

A 200-year old French oak staircase in the entrance area has a bespoke brushed aluminium handrail, blending in with solid walnut skirting boards and doorframes

For one of the bedrooms, the client mentioned they'd seen a fabulous velvet and silk bedspread on the TV serious The Tudors, so Rendall sat down to watch the DVD, and crafted one in its image. "The client said if the house caught fire, this would be the first item they would save," she says with a laugh.

This is an excerpt from the “Where no expense is spared" article from the April 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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