It has been almost 10 years since architect Marika Jarv designed the interiors of Gorrow House in Bondi. Yet they still stand strong and are a testament to her astute eye. As has been the case with a few of Marika’s projects over the years - she predated a trend. She was one half of PrintDolls that created destination bus scrolls before they were endlessly copied. And here she created a bathroom with exposed brass tapware and plumbing, which is now more commonplace. However, her choice of timeless materials and clean lines ensures this space will continue on for many years more.

Marika’s latest venture is An Adventure of the Heart, a fundraising initiative with friend Lisa Brown to help raise funds and awareness for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia. As part of this venture the duo are launching an online shop on Thursday 1 December. Various Australian fashion, lifestyle and homewares businesses, including Imprint House, have donated to the shop and all funds raised will go to the fundraising initiative. 

What was the starting point? The original house was built in the 1960s but, unfortunately, lacked the coolness of that era. Instead it was a labyrinth of rooms, and suffered from a deficit of natural daylight, poor connection to the outside, with very dated finishes and fittings.The brief was to completely transform the inside, open the building up, connect to the rear pool area and create an entertaining haven. The owner was well travelled and an avid surfer, so it was essential the house conveyed a relaxed coastal style, yet had international appeal, specifically reflecting time spent in New York.

What approach did you take? The client was a fashion designer, and was keen to explore unexpected design solutions and to push the boundaries. He has eclectic taste, and so was keen to “mix old and new” and to experiment with a “clash in the house”. The overall aesthetics were a bit of a mish-mash of his broad range of tastes, experiences and interests. It was a collaborative, experimental and at times spontaneous design process.

What materials and palette did you choose and why? The material palette was kept fairly simple and restrained; brickwork, concrete, cement render, timber and brass, but used in a way that perhaps more conventionally-inclined clients would baulk at. Externally, we kept the existing blond brickwork and used cement breeze-blocks as a nod to the past. Internally, the polished concrete floor topping was encouraged to deliberately craze as we liked that effect. In some parts, we retained the existing brown vermiculite ceilings, and simply resprayed them white, as the rough texture juxtaposed against the smooth rendered walls created an interesting contrast. In the bathrooms we installed exposed raw brass plumbing and taps - before they were “in” – this project is almost 10 years old now, black ceramic basins and cement rendered all the walls.

What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them? Whilst the builders were excavating for the rear deck, we discovered the house had no foundations. A lot of the budget then got swallowed up under-pinning the walls adjacent to the courtyard - it’s never fun to spend money on what you can’t see. Unfortunately this, along with the client’s unexpected decision to relocate overseas before the house was properly finished, meant lots of details - including the kitchen I’d designed - were never completed. It’s disappointing the house never got to realise it’s full potential, but the spatial flow works very well now.

What’s your favourite feature? The opening between the kitchen and dining areas to the rear courtyard. We used a stacking system of externally mounted, timber-framed sliding doors which meet at a corner junction – when they are all pushed out of the way, the lines between inside and out are really blurred.

images courtesy of marika jarv; interiors photography matt russell