Frazer House is a classic mid-century modern masterpiece that has been lovingly restored to its former glory by homeowner Linda Frazer. Overlooking Chinaman’s Beach in Mosman, Sydney, the original property was designed by renowned Sydney architect, Geoffrey Twibill and completed in 1958 for Linda’s parents, Allan and Hilja Frazer.
The split level, modernist inspired design is a rare example of Australian modern architecture still standing in the Mosman area, which Linda wanted to recapture and bring up to date for the 21st century.
“Dad and Geoffrey were ahead of their time. They built the house to last and apart from some minor additions and changes, it remains in its almost original state,” says Linda.
Studio P Architecture and Interiors were commissioned to breathe new life into the mid-century modern gem, while retaining the unique characteristics of its heritage, resulting in a stunning space that is both timeless and contemporary. “For this home we really wanted the story and the history of the house to shine through the design. It was important to create a design that is sympathetic to the original mid-century style of the house whilst also giving the home a fresh new feel,” says Arwen Sachinwalla, Interior Architect at Studio P.
The existing three-level brick and timber home featured all the hallmarks of early Australian modernist architecture including a flat roof, expansive walls of glass, clean lines, open floor plans and use of bold colours. It was originally built into rock ledges and around a red gum that poked through a central open courtyard and was oriented to catch the sun and winds.
The restoration, characterised by clean lines and an open plan setting, features oversized timber windows that have been restored to capitalise on the stunning waterfront views and which were important to the look of the original home. Natural wood elements and curved detail are accented through the interior, while pops of colour punctuate the otherwise neutral palette alongside classic mid-century inspired furniture, making a sleek, simple and subtle design statement.
“It was important to create a design that is sympathetic to the original mid-century style of the house whilst also giving the home a fresh new feel,” says Arwen. “The material palette is warm timbers mixed with bright and exciting colours, which is then balanced by the prominence and backdrop of clean white walls.”
Structurally Studio P worked with the existing framework of the home and the only changes were reinforcements where necessary. Applied with fine craftmanship, CSR Gyprock’s 13mm plasterboard played an integral role in modernising the dwelling. “Gyprock plasterboard was used throughout the home,” says Arwen. “It was part of every room and ceiling and gave us the opportunity to create the perfect blank canvas to highlight the distinct period features of the restoration.”
Enabling a smooth, perfect level of finish, Sydney builders FORMD AUS were able to apply the Gyprock plasterboard sheets over a variety of substrates making it the ideal product for such an internal restoration project.
“From a construction perspective the Gyprock sheet products allowed us to modify the existing internal layout and unify these new spaces by sheeting over new or old timber frames, or directly sticking the sheet to existing brick elements,” says Rupert Shroff from FORMD AUS. “It enabled us to create the simple, crisp lines that were called for in the modernist design of this period home.”
Balancing light was also key to refreshing the look and feel of Frazer House. Studio P replaced the original dark green painted ceilings, with Gyprock Supaceil, which had an enhancive impact on the light and volume in all the spaces where it has been used. “A big change to the old house was that the ceilings were originally a painted sprayed vermiculite material, which really absorbed all the natural light,” says Arwen. “By replacing this with Gyprock’s premium plasterboard, we were able to bring so much light back.”
Supaceil, a lightweight, 10mm plasterboard contains optimised core technology, which means longer spans and less joins, resulting in a sense of fluidity. Combining the desired level of finish with ease of installation, Supaceil enabled a transformative effect from the entrance and throughout the home. “The living spaces have been really brightened up with new white walls and ceilings and are an incredible frame for the beautiful views out toward Chinaman’s Beach,” says Arwen. “We were also able to reference the original home by painting the plasterboard ceiling in the entry way in the original colours. The plasterboard helps to provide an excellent base material prior to painting.”
While many of the home’s original and typical features have been retained, some redesign was required and the kitchen and the first-floor bathroom, which previously felt quite tight, have been expanded resulting in a more cohesive flow to those spaces. Key standout features that have been lovingly restored include the original tallowwood hardwood floors and some of the cedar battening; the atrium, once built around a tree, has been maintained with an updated weather sensing, vergola-like roof; the original bar area has been transformed into a new kitchen area opening it up to the view and reflecting the environment through an updated smoked glass backsplash and maintaining one of the key tenets to mid-century design; many of the original light fittings have been restored, including the dramatic entrance foyer pendant; and the entrance hall remains largely original, including the central western slate, pendant and staircase.
The Frazer House restoration serves as a testament to the enduring beauty and appeal of mid-century modern architecture and design. By carefully preserving the original features of the home while modernising it for contemporary living, Studio P has created a space that seamlessly blends the old with the new through an approach that allows the home to retain its unique character and aesthetic appeal. A beautiful and functional space that will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.
“My goal was to recapture the architect’s original vision as a tribute to both my parents,” says Linda. “I love living here as much as they did.”
The Frazer House is an iconic example of residential builds that CSR Gyprock has been facilitating since its inception in 1947. Proudly Australian-made, Gyprock continues to innovate, evolving its product range to meet the everchanging needs of the building industry.