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Beneath the vast blue skies of Brisbane stands an iconic 1968 dwelling, nestled in the leafy embrace of Stafford Heights.
Elevated gracefully, this timeless treasure grants views of the mountains and a valley twinkling in the distance.
This suburban gem has been a sanctuary for the growing family of photographer, stylist and author Kara Rosenlund. It’s a home she discovered untouched in 2020, as though awaiting her artistic imprint.
During the pandemic and with motherhood on the horizon, Rosenlund’s eye was caught by this home’s nostalgia-dripped architecture as she scoured online listings.
Drawn by the property’s unmistakable mid-century character and her family’s need for more space, she and her husband, Timothy O’Brien, decided to make it their own.
Being only its second custodians, Rosenlund and O’Brien celebrated the home’s innate charm, from the much-adored sunken plunge bath to the river stones lining the walls of the stairwell which spirals down to a self-contained retreat below.
Photographer, stylist and author Kara Rosenlund, husband Timothy O’Brien, and children Alby and Edie.Credit: Mollie Buckley
Their respectful renovations were a delicate journey of blending the past with the present, welcoming elements such as a revived kitchen and bathroom, new custom cabinetry and plush carpet to the bedrooms – and, perhaps most notably, an expansive New Guinea rosewood ceiling.
“The level of craftsmanship behind the ceiling was nothing short of extraordinary,” Rosenlund says.
“It’s a piece of art that appears as though it were original and unchanged, alongside the travertine crazy-pave, which is an ode to its era that brings joy to everyone who sees it, even the occasional courier who pops by.”
Rosenlund’s profound affection for natural landscapes permeates through her photography and published books, Shelter and Weekends.
Rosenlund’s eye was caught by this home’s nostalgia-dripped architecture as she scoured online listings. Credit: Kara Rosenlund
Her knack for capturing a spirit of Australiana has paired perfectly with this modernist marvel.
“While this home is a rare and unique find [for] Brisbane, the lifestyle it allows is quintessential [of] the ever-sunny Queensland way of life,” Rosenlund says.
“We have cherished its dual, split-level design, beginning with an entrance illuminated by three large skylights, creating a light-filled link between the living spaces and the bedroom wing.”
Recognising the home’s strong aesthetic, built with sublime coated besser blocks both externally and internally, Rosenlund sought to harmonise this, layer by layer, with muted tones, matt finishes and warm timbers.
Respectful renovations were a delicate journey of blending the past with the present. Credit: Kara Rosenlund
“We gently introduced natural materials, from the seagrass flooring [and] bamboo blinds to the Charlotte Perriand natural rush chairs,” Rosenlund says.
“We also created an abundant, lush tropical garden that can be seen from most of the windows to craft an indoor-outdoor connection – I find the greenery has a way of softening all the strong materials.”
Beyond its physical beauty, this house has been the backdrop of precious family memories.
Rosenlund’s skill allowed her to make this house her own.Credit: Kara Rosenlund
Rosenlund fondly recalls a day last October. The double-sided Cheminees Philippe fireplace in the living room was newly installed, providing warmth on an uncharacteristically chilly Brisbane day, her father was laying tiles on the wall near the fireplace, her daughter Edie was playing on the lounge, and her mother was holding their newborn, Alby.
“It was just a fleeting moment, but I will treasure it forever,” she says, beaming.
“This, along with the daily magic that unfolds, like witnessing the sun’s golden hues dipping behind the mountain range from the western side, leaving a pink afterglow – it’s like watching nature’s own light show.”
For Rosenlund, a maestro with a lens, this home has also been a muse, with its low ceilings inspiring her photography to new heights.
While her works have adorned galleries, including a solo exhibition at the Sydney Opera House, they appear most splendidly within her home.
Rosenlund understood the existing aesthetic of the home, layer by layer, with muted tones, matt finishes and warm timbers. Credit: Kara Rosenlund
For instance, a still-life of a dahlia from her Best in Show collection hangs between the fireplace and display shelves in the living room.
“It’s been wonderful getting to know this home,” Rosenlund says. “Like how the morning sun pours through the large, sliding glass doors, highlighting the travertine floors and the fireplace, casting long, intimate shadows that dance around the ceilings.”
As she lovingly recounts bringing both her babies home, the sentiment is palpable. And yet this same sentiment of family is what brought about the decision to sell, motivated by the desire to live closer to her parents, allowing her children to forge deeper bonds with their grandparents.
The home is filled with memories for the family. Credit: Kara Rosenlund
“We’re incredibly proud of the work we have put into this home,” Rosenlund says.
“At night, I’ll often walk out the front barefoot, a glass of wine in hand, and just admire the house with the outdoor lights on and the indoor lamps glowing – it’s a little ritual that always leaves me in awe, especially if there’s a full moon rising.”
This article was originally published by Domain.com.au. Reproduced with permission.
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