Sydney Swan’s reno: A grand final lookback

5 days ago

It’s been an action-packed renovation season for the Swans skipper Luke Parker and partner Kate Lawrence, as they saw their dream duplex go up in Sydney. 

When Luke and his interior designer better half Kate, bought a property in inner Sydney, they knew they had a major challenge on their hands. They wanted to turn their ugly duckling purchase into two beautiful swans – a chic duplex.

So, the couple drew up a game plan, called in some expert help and have scored big before the siren, so to speak. They now call one of the four-bedroom, three-bathroom properties home and rent out the neighbouring property.

“We’ve enjoyed it so much we’re looking around to see what other properties are popping up,” says Kate. “We’d like to build a duplex again – some people think we’re crazy but now we’ve started, we want to keep going!”

The goals

Luke and Kate began with a house that had seen better days. Once the bulldozers moved in, they were left with a whole lotta space to suddenly transform into a contemporary meets coastal style duplex.

“Duplexes in the area were selling for a good price and building a duplex also meant we could live in one property and rent out the other,” says Kate.

Luke and Kate decided to do a duplex because of the investment potential. Picture: Hannah Blackmore

While the two homes are under the same roof, they have their own entrances and outdoor spaces.

“The only adjoining wall is where the staircase is located – we didn’t want adjoining walls where the bedrooms and bathrooms are. Our neighbours have moved in and we don’t know they’re there!” says Kate. Ideal really.

The couple built both homes with four-bedrooms and three-bathrooms and each has an entertaining deck, grassed area and pool.

Lessons learned

Luke and Kate fitted in plenty of rooms, without feeling cramped, by choosing an experienced architect and builder.

“If you’re building a duplex, engage a builder early on and use their knowledge,” says Kate. “They can help you find ways to do things more cost-effectively.

“And find an architect experienced in designing duplexes. We didn’t have many challenges but one challenge was to include the kitchen, dining and lounge room in one space that was open plan and not cramped. The architect did some amazing work.”

The gaping light void which floods the home with a gorgeous glow. Picture: Alan Richardson

In their first building project, Luke learned how much you have to spend before even starting to build.

“There are council fees, soil reports, arborist reports – then there’s always something else you haven’t factored – so you need to have a budget for unseen expenses. You might pay for ten reports and initially wonder what they are all for but they all come into play during the build,” he says.

Favourite spaces

Luke and Kate’s s home has the same floorplan as the neighbouring property, but uses a darker, edgier colour palette with black and charcoal carpentry and timbers, gunmetal details and concrete benchtops. The investment property has a lighter, coastal interior.

The couple love their dark and stormy colour choices for the kitchen. Picture: Hannah Blackmore

Luke’s favourite place is the living area that has an architectural void, creating a sense of height and space. The area leads directly to the entertaining deck and features large picture windows that flood the home with light.

“When you’re in that space it makes you feel happy,” agrees Kate.

“My favourite space is our ensuite because it’s like a luxury hotel ensuite. I love the massive window wall on the left-hand side and the mirrors and tapware – the space evokes a sense of calm.”

The final score

Kate Lawrence

Another reno could be on the cards for Luke and Kate after this success. Picture: Hannah Blackmore

“We’re blown away by what has been created,” says Kate. And they’ve made a solid financial investment, too.

“We’ve rented out the neighbouring property for $ 1,500 a week and if we sold the homes right now, we’d be looking at a 30% profit. Not a bad result,” says Kate.

Not bad at all.


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