Who lives here
Interior designer Jillian Dinkel and her husband Kevin, their baby daughter, Delilah, and Italian greyhound, Miller.
Manly, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
"Modern Victorian. I love preserving original architectural details and pairing them with contemporary furnishings and art."
"With this home, my biggest objective was to rework the period floorplan to suit modern living and entertaining."
"It's a tie! I love the kitchen for its perfect marriage of functionality and aesthetics, and I love the drama of our entry hall."
Where summer vibes linger year-round, Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is a dreamy locale to raise a family. Ocean swells, foreshore reserves, national parkland, and a vibrant village that’s pulsing with on-trend bars and global eats. Among all of this, Jillian Dinkel, a Sydney-based interior designer, transformed a tired-looking terrace into a family home that simply wows from the moment you step through the front door.
When it comes to house design, Jillian has plenty of experience and expertise, so we wanted to get a few of her tips and tricks to learn what it takes to create a beautiful home.
We were lucky enough to sit down with the talented designer to take a tour around her stunning Manly home. Just a word of warning: this may inspire you to completely redecorate!
For her terrace house, Jillian pulled out all the stops, converting what was a two-bedroom, single bathroom house into a luxe three-bedroom, two-bathroom family home. And as keen entertainers, the dramatic entry and welcoming open plan kitchen and lounge room were high on the agenda.
“The house is on a beautiful street filled with other heritage homes, but this one had been badly neglected for decades – it was pokey and dark and filled to the brim with furniture and garbage, and the smell was almost unbearable!” says Jillian. “But from the moment I saw the original cornices, the plaster arch of the hallway, and the soaring 3.3-metre high ceilings, I knew it was my home.”
Masterfully reconfigured and thoughtfully designed, Jillian admits that she loves to rework a tricky floorplan, which is precisely what she did with her terrace house.
Starting as a fashion stylist in New York, Jillian spent a decade travelling the world working on photoshoots – giving her a sense of what true luxury is, and the thoughtfulness that goes into the most intricate details. Transitioning into interior design, Jillian now works primarily on period homes in Sydney, where she blends traditional architectural features with contemporary furnishings and art. But it’s the moments of drama throughout the homes she creates that really pop, and her home is no exception.
“The goal was always an elegant and sophisticated home for our growing family. I reworked the home’s layout and selected colours, wallpaper and lighting to highlight the original features,” says Jillian. “Inspired by my travels and experiences, this home reminds me of my childhood in the south and my 20s spent in New York.”
ENTRY & LIVING AREA
Indulgent from the moment you arrive, the home opens into a dramatic entryway, which is reminiscent of a New York brownstone vestibule. Original kauri pine floorboards, marble floor tiles, wall panelling that was designed by Jillian, and the wallpaper and pendant lighting were imported from the United States.
Off the hallway, the living room is a sophisticated yet welcoming space with lambskin cushions, a vintage Calacatta marble coffee table (one of Jillian’s favourite pieces), and a sleek bar cart. Jillian also had the original wood-burning fireplace reinstalled, and a Samsung Frame TV placed above, a discreet piece of tech when the TV is in art mode.
Hands down, Jillian’s favourite room is her kitchen and small dining nook that not only boasts two arched windows with ocean glimpses but also features her beloved vintage Cesca dining chairs.
“I was incredibly inspired by the original wedding cake style cornices – I designed a curved island that incorporates our main sink and a zip hydro. I hand-selected the Hermes marble, which is used across the kitchen.”
Jillian continues. “The cabinetry is hand-painted in Dulux “Blue Metal” with aged brass handles from Armac Martin. I love our Ilve Nostalgie range that has bronze handles that will patina with time, and the six-gas burner is a dream when entertaining. I always include an appliance cupboard when designing a kitchen, and the same applied here.”
MASTER BEDROOM & ENSUITE
For the master bedroom, Jillian created a hotel at home feel by painting the walls and ceiling a Dulux “Klavier” (a shade of black), which envelopes the room that features a four-post bed and a French cane bedside table. While the ensuite features wall to wall steel frame partitions that section off the shower and handmade Apparatus Studio lights that grace the custom bronze trimmed shaving cabinets and custom-designed marble vanity.
LAUNDRY & STORAGE
Having lived for many years in Manhattan, Jillian knows how to make every millimetre count. By reducing the size of the guest bedroom, it gave Jillian enough room to create a large storage closet accessible from the main hallway. She installed shelving from the ground up, using every bit of the 3.3-metre height while the laundry got a full-height cabinet to hold cleaning supplies and home utility items behind closed doors.
Tucked away on a peninsula surrounded by popular surfing beaches and the spectacular bushlands of North Head, Manly is a bustling hub with a laid-back attitude. Here you will find it all, secluded bays, world-class shopping, stunning views, and a vibrant dining and bar scene. It’s the perfect blend of city and coastal living that allows you to watch sunsets at North Head and take an after-work dip at Fairy Bower Pool.
When it comes to getting out and about locally, Jillian swears by Belgrave Cartel for coffee, and for breakfast with ocean views, The Pantry is her go-to. In neighbouring Freshwater, Pilu is her pick for lunch, but for dinner, it’s hard to beat Sake along Manly Wharf. Manly is also a hotspot for drinking establishments, and Donny’s is a firm favourite in winter, but come summertime, the rooftop at Greenhouse wins hands down.