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ANNA CARIN DESIGN's modernist refurb of a Sydney federation home
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ANNA CARIN DESIGN and the art of ‘keeping what you have’

June 27, 2020
ANNA CARIN DESIGN and the art of ‘keeping what you have’

The simple philosophy of ‘keeping what you have’ is refreshing in our throwaway society.

And it’s something that has influenced interior designer Anna-Carin McNamara since her childhood, with the idea of reusing objects underpinning the strong eco principles behind her work.

Principal Designer at ANNA CARIN DESIGN, Anna-Carin grew up on a small farm in the south of Sweden where she collected eggs, picked wild berries and saw from her mother how our home environment can influence the way we feel. “A welcoming, warm and inviting home played a vital role in my formation,” she explains. Anna-Carin’s work reflects the quality, elegance and clean details of Swedish design, and draws on the earthy warmth of her rural heritage.

As Anna-Carin explains,

“my design philosophy is based on the Scandinavian design principles of simplicity, functionality and sustainability.”

She loves to celebrate original characteristics in the homes she designs, finding contemporary partners that complement these features.

ANNA CARIN DESIGN Federation House, Roseville | House of Home

And it is this simple aesthetic that attracted the owners of a 1900 Federation home in Sydney when they were renovating. Recalling why they chose ANNA CARIN DESIGN, the clients explain:

“We love the Scandinavian style, her choice of colours and textures, her simplicity. Everything she did was complementary to the original house.”

The Federation home had great proportions, high ceilings and beautiful traditional detailing like stained glass windows, but the rooms were dark, there was an enclosed ‘U shape’ kitchen and spaces were isolated. The musician client was looking for a design that allowed private space to rehearse and for quiet contemplation, as well as communal family spaces and a strong connection to the outdoors.

Anna Carin Federation House, Roseville | House of Home

Anna-Carin’s team chose to optimise the space with an open plan kitchen and family room for the busy family of five. A square-set circular skylight now brings in an abundance of natural light while clever white and grey paint selections, and replacing heavy drapes with sheers, gives on overall brightness to the space. Demonstrating her ‘keep what you have’ philosophy, Anna-Carin explains: “The carpets in the front rooms were ripped out to uncover the original timber floors which were then sanded and stained Black Japan. For the new kitchen and family room a wider plank was introduced in a herringbone pattern — a subtle transition between old and new.” The dark floors throughout help to ground the space.

Anna Carin Federation House, Roseville | House of Home
Anna Carin Federation House, Roseville | House of Home

Anna-Carin also added a contemporary edge to the home with lighter birch timber veneer joinery, a mirrored range hood, marble and brass finishes and architectural lighting selections. As the client explains,

“the lighter palette of painted woodwork has helped to modernise the house and give it a lovely atmosphere.

The beautiful Federation ceilings featuring Australian wildflowers and butterflies are complemented by the stunning Douglas and Bec lights”.

Anna Carin Federation House, Roseville | House of Home

But the true hero of this design is the way Anna-Carin has comfortably ‘reused’ the owners’ own furniture and partnered them with new pieces that will, in the future, become collectibles in their own right. Like the new Thonet Originals dining chairs that complement the owners’ tractor chairs at either end of the dining table. And the Danish &Tradition ‘Blown’ pendants that have a beautiful quilted texture, highlighting the home’s existing stained glass windows and the owners’ antique cabinet. In the kitchen a new Artek tea trolley and stools give the space a quirky, contemporary attitude. An heirloom Verner Panton vintage lamp sits comfortably in the front sitting room, surrounded by Jardan tub chairs and sofa, and the exquisite Anna-Carin ‘Pike’ floor rug that is part of the Forsa Collection with Designer Rugs’ Designer Collaborations series. As the client explains, “I have her [Anna-Carin] in my home which is a lovely connection to the whole experience.”

We would like to thank Anna-Carin McNamara and her team at ANNA CARIN DESIGN for inviting us to step inside this incredible home. Anna-Carin is excited to announce that she is launching a new rug collection later this year and will release a book in April 2019.


Materials and finishes Flooring: Tongue n Groove Parquet Grande in Raba – Eterno. Paint colours: Murobond Salt 25%, Dulux Lexicon Quarter Lighting: Douglas & Bec, Anglepoise, &Tradition Blown Pendant Other: Custom powder coated steel balustrade; Black Honed Granite Fireplace Surround and Hearth

Project Credits Interior Designers: Anna-Carin McNamara, Lauren Ryan, Torie Hyde Builder: Kilbri Pty Ltd Key suppliers: Adam Standfield Cabinetmaking, Tongue ’n Groove, Surface Gallery, Euro Natural Stone, Candana Photographer: Justin Alexander

Special thanks to our regular House of Home Contributor, Kate Shaw for writing this article.

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