Modern manor

Modern manor

A rare Victorian gem, sensitively restored by Sydney builders Moxon Bros, strikes a glorious balance between heritage splendour and contemporary cool.

Photo courtesy Moxon Bros Architectural Builders

Author

Gabrielle Chariton

Ensconced in a leafy enclave of Bronte, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, this stately home is a typical – and incredibly well-preserved – example of Australian Victorian-era architecture. From the cast-iron picket fence and tessellated front pathway, to the lacework-edged bullnose veranda and deep bay window, little of the home’s exterior has changed since it was constructed circa 1892.

The interiors, however, have recently undergone a dramatic transformation under the capable direction of Troy and Aden Moxon, owners of Moxon Bros Architectural Builders. These HIA members are both passionate about the high-level craftsmanship and detail involved with heritage home restorations. 

‘Troy and I are obsessed with architecture and fine detail,’ Aden says. ‘We love working to achieve that high-end finish.’

The third-generation builders (Moxon Bros was founded in the 1960s by their grandfather Albert and great-uncle Ted) thrive on challenging, intricate projects, and their versatility and meticulous approach has led to fruitful collaborations with several architects. This project came to them via Denby Dowling Interiors, who they’ve partnered with on various projects over the past decade.

‘The home’s owners were after open-plan living. They have kids and they like to entertain, so they wanted to open it all up and bring the outdoors in,’ Aden says. He adds that prior to the renovation, the house read as two distinct sections: the front half original – still charming, but run-down; with an unsympathetic, outmoded living room extension to the rear. Their task: to create a seamless flow, from the leadlight entryway right through to the landscaped back yard.

Modern manor kitchen
Gorgeous green tiles are used as a motif throughout the interiors
Photo courtesy Moxon Bros Architectural Builders
Modern manor bathroom
Stunning period features include pressed metal ceilings
Photo courtesy Moxon Bros Architectural Builders

Incredibly for a house of its age, there were no structural issues to deal with, and in the original section of the house, which comprises a central hallway flanked by a formal living/dining room on one side and two bedrooms on the other, works were primarily of a restorative nature. The hearths around the marble fireplaces were repaired, timber flooring re-sanded and polished, and any problematic plasterwork was fixed – all in preparation for its cosmetic makeover.

The newer section – built around thirty years ago, Aden estimates – required more heavy lifting. ‘It was all like a rabbit warren, with hallways leading into different poky rooms; it was just confusing.’

The kitchen – a tired laminate-and-granite affair – was too closed-off, and the flow of the largest space, the living room, was interrupted by two awkwardly large, floor-to-ceiling support posts.

‘We had to get an engineer in and put in steel beams to support the roof and ceiling loads, enabling us to remove the internal walls, open it up and turn it into a house you can actually enjoy,’ Aden says.

Post-renovation, the new section includes a study, the master suite, bathroom, a breakfast nook and concealed laundry, as well as a bright and airy kitchen/living/dining space framed by floor-to-ceiling glazing that opens onto the alfresco area.

The third-generation builders thrive on challenging, intricate projects

The new galley-style kitchen is finished in a combination of white Shaker profile joinery, glass-fronted cabinets, and white stone benchtops. A heritage-inspired feature pendant hangs over the island and the whole space is framed, rather dramatically, by a full-height splashback of glossy heritage-green subway tiles. It’s at once contemporary and classic; the bold colour and joinery artfully working together to forge a connection with the home’s 19th century origins.

These gorgeous green tiles are used as a motif throughout the interiors: unexpectedly adorning a rear wall in the living space; floor-to-ceiling in the master bathroom, and as an accent in the second bathroom.

The Moxon team has skilfully brought the disparate elements of the home together into a cohesive, singular whole, using deep skirtings, recycled blackbutt flooring, and extending the soaring 3.7-metre ceilings through the new living space. A consistent use of finishes – brass for all door hardware and tapware, boldly patterned wallpapers, and crisp grey and white paint – visually link the spaces throughout the home. The finished effect is indeed seamless, and while the stunning period features such as decorative plasterwork and pressed metal ceilings have been highlighted, the overall aesthetic, from front to back, is classic and timeless.

Modern manor living room
‘Troy and I are obsessed with architecture and fine detail’
Photo courtesy Moxon Bros Architectural Builders
modern manor Photo courtesy Moxon Bros Architectural Builders

‘It’s all streamlined throughout now,’ Aden says. ‘We’ve used all the same fittings and the paint and the wallpaper to tie it in from end to end.’

Thanks to the home’s structural integrity, the project ran smoothly.

‘Our general building knowledge of working in those homes for a long time made it easy. The main thing we came across was waterproofing issues in the bathrooms but we were sort of ready for that and fixed a lot of it as we went through it. We have lost count of how many bathrooms we demolish with little or no waterproofing.’

They also encountered some problematic wiring: ‘We upgraded the switchboard with safety switches and circuit breakers, and got the wiring up to code.’

At the conclusion of the 16-week build, Aden says the homeowners were ‘over the moon’ – not just with the new decor, but with the improved functionality and useability of the primary living spaces. This stunning result – and the client’s positive reaction – is part of what drives the Moxon team: Aden says they gain immense satisfaction from ‘completing each project with a happy client and transforming a house into something special’.

Moxon Bros

About Moxon Bros

Third-generation builders Aden and Troy Moxon have building in their blood, having grown up helping father Steve Moxon on his worksites across Sydney. The brothers took over the family business in 2004 and haven’t looked back: they now employ a team of several carpenters and apprentices, and specialise in high-end architectural projects, completing about eight jobs per year. Moxon Bros have been members of HIA for 10 years, and tend to use their membership to access business and industry compliance information. ‘You can call HIA for anything, from a change in regulations to checking apprentice wages,’ Aden says.

Third-generation builders Aden and Troy Moxon have building in their blood, having grown up helping father Steve Moxon on his worksites across Sydney. The brothers took over the family business in 2004 and haven’t looked back: they now employ a team of several carpenters and apprentices, and specialise in high-end architectural projects, completing about eight jobs per year. Moxon Bros have been members of HIA for 10 years, and tend to use their membership to access business and industry compliance information. ‘You can call HIA for anything, from a change in regulations to checking apprentice wages,’ Aden says.

Related Articles

Second nature

This eco-friendly and socially-responsible brand elegantly blends nature, ethics, and style.

A remarkable vision

This home’s muted yet luxurious interiors form the perfect backdrop to spectacular picture-postcard views.

Under the spotlight

From ceiling to floor, highlight the popular areas of a home with eye-catching modern finishes in bronze.

Soap holders can prevent leaks

Customers may want extra shower shelving – but they don’t want extra water leaking under their shower tiles.

Join more than 120,000 like-minded subscribers