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TIME TO READ: 1m 15s

Built in 1831 The Hermitage is one of Sydney’s most iconic homesteads.

Perfectly positioned with harbour views, it’s easy to see why the heritage-listed building possesses such alluring qualities.

It’s rustic gothic architecture has been beautifully well-maintained by the Hemmes family, who have owned the property since 1974.

In 2011 Justin Hemmes, CEO of Merivale, moved back into the family estate and began working with Brian Hess of Hess Hoen architecture to upgrade the home.

Hemmes’ vision for the project was to preserve it’s integrity and open up the spaces to enhance the communal and social spirit of the home. In the process the interior layout was completely flipped, there was part-demolition of ad hoc extensions and new openings created.

Materials were selected that were honest, told a story and displayed texture that changed with use and time. Concealed heritage features, like sandstone walls, were given pride of place and integrated into the new design. Naked clay plaster walls, encaustic floor tiles, aged oak, hand-blown glass and stone were all celebrated in the design as Hemmes mixed the old and the new.

The landscape was also overhauled to create a more seamless connection between the inside and outside. Five-metre hand-painted steel glass doors took advantage of the incredible harbour views and the outdoor courtyard areas added to the Mediterranean vibe.

Wooden decking with surrounding olive trees, relaxed seating and a tranquil pool takes pride of place at the harbour’s edge.

This project perfectly reflects the lifestyle of it’s owner, yet embraces it’s history, materiality and preserves the original spirit of the home.

You can see more of Hess Hoen’s work here.

Photography: Prue Ruscoe

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