But moving in was easier said than done. The house is a detached home with tiny windows on the ground floor and uninspiring brown colours. Allan also decided to reverse the house, moving the living area, dining area and kitchen to the upper floor so that they would connect more closely to the roof, while the master bedroom, children’s bedroom and bathrooms were moved to the ground floor.
She also opened up the windows and stairwell, and converted an outside stairwell into a shower with a high ceiling and skylights. To make her plan a reality, the house had to be completely gutted. She tasked Alexander Stuart Designs with the renovations, which took eight months.
A long-time art aficionado, Allan has cultivated quite the art collection over the years. She’s just as likely to purchase pieces from local galleries and international art fairs as from artists on Instagram. Rather than sequestering her pieces away in storage, Allan always buys art with the idea to display them. “I think art personalises a house and reflects the owner,” Allan said. “Things I buy, I usually consider for a while before purchasing, and they are normally for a specific place in my house.”
Walk through Allan’s abode and you’ll find art pieces setting the tone in many of the rooms and spaces, whether large-scale paintings, arrangements of smaller pieces or abstract artworks. Some favourites include a painting by Tanya Ling purchased from a London-based gallery that takes pride of place in the dining area, as well as a Wang Keping sculpture sitting on a windowsill from Hong Kong. Art that doesn’t hang in her home is shown in her office. Several works by Australian artists—mostly relating to water or the harbour—are placed in her apartment in Sydney.
By opening up the home and filling it with artworks—as well as light, contemporary, and sculptural furnishings—Allan has created something of an Aussie beach house. She loves Friday night movie sessions in the master bedroom with her sons and throwing lunches, dinner parties and dragon boat-watching parties on the rooftop. “The roof terrace is a great place to relax or entertain while overlooking the water,” said Allan.
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