Inside the heritage-listed home of interior designer Anna van der Gardner

Take inspiration from some of Australia’s best living spaces. A historical home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has been brought to life with the love of an interior designer and her family.

Anna van der Gardner: “Have a clear idea of what you wish to evoke in decorating a home and take the time to find things you love.”Credit:Jennifer Soo

The home
In 1836, the architect Mortimer William Lewis bought land in Nelson Bay (later Bronte, in Sydney’s east) and began building a house. Bronte House was purchased by Waverley Council in 1948.

Who lives here
Interior designer Anna van der Gardner, her husband Wes, and their daughters Ada, 11, and Lillie, 7, since 2015.

This colourful room greets visitors.“The walls were already painted,” says Anna. “We added the cane seater and the antique metal base wall table for more plants.”Credit:Jennifer Soo

What we did
“While heritage restrictions apply, approved changes were permitted,” says Anna. She introduced new wallpaper, tiling, lighting, curtains, shutters and brightened the large sitting and dining rooms using a soft green palette.

Favourite room
The dining room, able to seat 10, with its large marble fireplace, and a north-facing bay window that looks into the garden “where you can watch the seasons change”, says Anna.

The dining room features a map dating back to 1844. “We love it because it’s a year after the house was built. All the wooden floors in the house are original.”Credit:Jennifer Soo

The ’hood
“From the house a pathway leads us past a waterfall and through a forest of trees to Bronte beach, which the girls just love,” says Anna.

Best advice
“Have a clear idea of what you wish to evoke in decorating a home and take the time to find things you love,” says Anna.

“The kitchen’s bones were already there when we moved in, so we added our touches with a custom-made bench and some furnishings, such as copper pots.”Credit:Jennifer Soo

Future plans
“Historic properties such as Bronte House require constant care, maintenance and improvement,” says Anna, who flags they might apply to do more work on the interiors or in the garden.

“The garden is my passion.” Rare plants such as Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) and Brazilian blue amaryllis (Worsleya procera) are two favourites.Credit:Jennifer Soo

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