The home of Koskela co-founders Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky

Published in the June 2018 issue of Australian House & Garden.

Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky bought their home for a very good reason: no one else wanted it. “It was the ugly duckling and almost uninhabitable,” says Sasha of the three-bedroom residence/shop in Sydney’s east.

Describing the 155m2 home as “pretty compact”, Sasha says making it feel more spacious was crucial. But there were many other challenges for the two-level abode, which has all the living spaces and two bedrooms on the ground floor, and the bathroom, laundry and a spare room below, level with the garden. “It’s part of an early 19th-century building,” she says. “At some point it had been dodgily renovated and stripped of its original period features.” She and Russel and their sons Anders, 12, and Mika, 10 lived elsewhere during the structural part of the renovation, enabling the builders to work quickly restoring some of its charm.

To start with, the kitchen, bathroom and stairs were replaced, along with many of the windows, mainly at the north-facing rear of the property. “We installed new louvre windows everywhere and bifolds at the back of the house to capture the cooling sea breezes,” says Sasha. “The kitchen window now looks directly out onto a large bottlebrush tree that attracts every type of bird you can imagine.”

Much of the original Baltic pine flooring was retained, while areas that needed replacing were matched with reclaimed Baltic timber of a similar vintage. The exposed ceiling beams upstairs were restored and painted Dulux Chalk USA, a warm white. New skylights have contributed to this level’s loft-like ambience. 

As is often the case with designers’ homes, Russel and Sasha decorated over time. They’ve used natural, tactile materials, and a lot of indigenous art, in the form of wall-hung canvases and printed cushions. One of Sasha’s favourite features is the stair wall in the living room, which was perfect for hanging some of their much-loved Aboriginal art collection.

Deborah Grant
Kayla Gex
Maree Homer

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