The designer created the grandly proportioned, traditional retreat for her family and friends on Palm Beach
This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Architectural Digest.
Less than an hour from Sydney’s cosmopolitan sights lies what’s been called “the jewel of the northern beaches”—Palm Beach, a peninsula blessed with golden sand and a greenness not typically associated with Australia. There, in a protected conservation area, Bob and Margaret Rose have conceived and built a weekend residence they’ve named Bellona.
“My vision was to create a house of memories for my grandchildren,” Margaret Rose explains. “I wanted a tranquil but inviting atmosphere—not overwhelming but comfortably elegant.”
The couple, whose Rose Group in Woolloomooloo develops large-scale residential projects, imagined a house that would incorporate traditional elements like wide verandas, gables, abundant windows and a shingled roof. They then called on their senior design architect, Drew Barnyak, and worked out the details together.
“I relied on memories of the area from my childhood,” says Rose, “and sought out Palm Beach’s remaining original structures. I wanted to build something that would grow old gracefully.”
Set amid frangipani, magnolias and Norfolk Island pines, the nearly 7,000-square-foot residence appears far older than it is. A ship weathervane sails atop a gable facing the sea—a reminder that the Rose family, who were the peninsula’s first free settlers, came to the area in 1793 aboard the Bellona.
The interiors gracefully balance the architecture’s formality with its main purpose as a beach retreat. There’s a travertine dining table, but it’s surrounded by cane chairs. The walnut-plank floors are mostly unadorned, and the living room sofas are done in simple linen slipcovers. “As with all the houses we’ve designed, my husband insisted on being able to put his feet up on any chair at any time,” says Rose.
When the house was nearing completion, she called on interior designer Michael Love, who advised on fabrics and created a number of furnishings.
Margaret Rose’s commitment to authenticity is charmingly evident in the master bedroom. There, a screen door was designed with a gratifying squeak.