Building a new home requires creativity—especially if you don’t have the freedom to make all your own choices. When designer Jess Hunter of Jess Hunters Interiors wanted to build a contemporary home for her family of six in Berrima, Southern Highlands NSW, she was faced with some historical town restrictions.

Kitchen with large black island, fish trap pendant light and art on the wall
The kitchen is a place for gathering and cooking, according to its functional design and island seating. “The pendant is actually an old fish trap that I bought from a small local business called Rabbit Trap Timber, which I had made into a light shade,” says Jess.

The front of the home needed to adhere to the historic Georgian architecture of the 1830s and include materials like timber and stone. As a compromise, Jess designed the exterior of the home to comply with the heritage guidelines, while most of the interior showcases her love of modern design.

Living and dining room with black and gray paper lanterns, a black dining table and fireplace.
The open living/dining/kitchen area literally opens up to an outdoor living space. The Hunter family likes to hang out here the most.

Separate Sections

To successfully design a contemporary home that balances traditional Georgian style with modern architecture, Jess worked with Tina Tziallas of Tziallas Architects. Together, they found a solution that would marry the two designs. “The sooner you can get involved with the architect, the better,” says Jess.

Open modern space with concrete floor, gray couch, a small tv and a table filled with collectibles
To hide the television in plain sight, Jess hung it offset to a table. She filled with collectibles that draw your eye instead.

The home is separated into sections: one traditional and one modern. The traditional areas hold the girls’ rooms, while the modern areas are the master suite and open living room/dining room/kitchen.

Planter alcove with large window that sees into the house
Jess planned to have as many large windows as possible in her home. This allows in natural light and makes the surrounding landscape a stunning backdrop to the interior spaces.

To keep the design cohesive, they used concrete flooring throughout the home. But it was a challenge to ensure her home would be family-friendly. “There are a lot of hard surfaces here, such as concrete, stone and glass, so I needed to soften the space and make it feel comfortable for the kids,” she says. She layered textures and fabrics to take away the harsh look of the hard materials.

Contemporary bedroom with black wainscoting, olive green bed comforter and plant
The master bedroom is Jess’s favorite place to wind down. She kept the décor minimal and modern for a soothing place that relaxes the mind.

Salute to MCM Style

Though this isn’t your typical Mid Century Modern home, it does have similarities that echo mid century design staples. Jess’s furniture pieces have clean lines, and the color palette combines neutrals with natural greens in the form of plant life.

Home office with black accent wall, a black desk and vibrant hanging plants
The home office has a striking black accent wall with plant accents that pop and bring life to the space. Jess created the black wall using matte-black Glosswood pre-coated cladding.

She also wanted natural light in as many places as possible, so they put in large windows and even a sliding glass wall that opens to the outside. “We wanted all the beautiful natural aspects of the surrounding land and bush to be part of our home, even when we are inside,” she says.

Contemporary gray bathroom with finger tiles in the shower
The master suite shower has finger tile walls. “These gorgeous little rectangular tiles create a fantastic modern pattern when they are stacked vertically,” Jess says.

This contemporary home displays the ingenuity of the designer. The restrictions of the town could have held her back, but instead, she designed what would make her happy while enjoying what the town has to offer.

Black bathtub with wood art piece hanging above it
Nothing says modern like a black bathtub. A statement art piece hangs above the tub, adding texture and intrigue.
Back entrance to a home in NSW. Warm wood door with black feature wall.
Though the town had strict guidelines to adhere to for the front of the home, they were lenient about the design at the back of the home. So, Jess was able to have Tina Tziallas of Tziallas Architects apply more of her modern design to the back entrance. The Woodgate custom designed this door.

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