This Sydney Apartment is the Perfect Canvas

A few weeks ago we peeked into Gemma Cagnacci and Andrew Meehan‘s New Zealand cabin retreat. We were so enamored of their little cabin that we asked if we could peek into the Sydney apartment where they spent the majority of their time. Gemma is a designer for a textile company and runs Line x Color x Shape, a blog about all things aesthetic, and Andrew is a designer for a renowned Australian architectural firm and has a background in retail design. This pair loves to travel and their home is filled with treasures that they have picked up while on the road, as well as pieces inherited from family and art from friends. But they try to avoid the look of too much clutter by letting the white walls and natural floorboards act as a blank canvas for all their finds. They’ve been in this apartment for three years and were drawn to its location, not only the neighborhood of Surry Hills, but also the direction that the apartment faces – north – a historical favorite for artists (Vermeer was known for his north-lit studio). It’s the perfect location for a creative couple when they need a little break from seeing the world. -Amy

Photography by Gemma Cagnacci

Image above: “Our lounge room is full of light and is where we tend to hang out the most,” Gemma says. “It is full of bits and pieces we have collected over the years, especially from our travels. A few of our favourite pieces include the colourful kilim we found on a trip to  Turkey, the vintage photographer’s lamp Andrew found in a vintage furniture store and various pieces of art including a concert poster for one of our favourite bands, The National, and a painting by our friend and artist Max Berry.”

Image above: “Our dining room is still a work in progress, as we are still deciding on what dining chairs we want to invest in. Again, there a lots of items we have collected along the way including a branch that I found while walking home from work.”


See more of the Sydney apartment after the jump!

Image above: “This beautiful painting is one of my most treasured items. It belonged to my grandparents who traveled and lived all over the world. They bought this Balinese silk painting while living in Indonesia many, many years ago and I am very fortunate to now have it in our home.”

Image above: “The cabinet is another beautiful piece that once belonged to my grandparents, which they bought while living in Japan. It now resides in our spare room with an etching I created while studying at university, and Page Thirty-Three essential oil bunsen burner.”

Image above: “Our bookcase is jammed full of books and a gorgeous hat I found in Vietnam last year. I love the orange pom-poms!”

Image above: “In our dining room is an ever growing wall with items and art largely found whilst traveling. We try to add something after each trip. There are pieces from Uzbekistan, Mexico, Laos, Egypt, New Zealand and Australia including baskets from the Tjanpi Desert Weavers of central Australia, a portrait painted by friend and artist Max Berry and a small wire piece made by myself.”

Image above: “The mantelpiece is pretty special as it really reflects the history of the house (a Victorian-era terrace) with a large section of the original paint left showing above. From left to right – a painting I bought in northern Vietnam, a piece by Max Berry, a screen printed concert poster for The National, another painting bought in northern Vietnam and a wooden carving I brought home from Lake Toba, Indonesia.”

Image above: “Our dining room.”

Image above: “Kitchen details, including one of my favorite Marimekko prints on a tea towel.”

Image above: “More kitchen details. Our home does not have much storage, so we make good usage of these industrial shelves. The framed ‘Hell Yeah’ tea towel is by Australian artist and designer Rachel Castle.

Image above: “Behind our dinning table is more storage, with cooking and interiors books plus kitchen items. The gold vessel is a Tibetan singing bowl we bought in Nepal recently, the etching on the left is one I created while studying Fine Arts at university, the small wooden box was found at a flea market in China, and the painting on the right is another flea market find from Mexico City.”

Image above: “In comparison to the rest of our home, our bedroom is quite simple with not much decoration. Our bed was made by a good friend as a wedding gift which makes it very special and the rug was bought while traveling through Turkey.”

Image above: “On the other side of our bedroom is an artwork by Australian artist and designer Beci Orpin on top of a stack of some of my favourite magazines.”


Image above: “We have a tiny spare room, which is home to an old hospital bed painted black and now used as a daybed. The old chair belongs to my mother, but is currently living with us! Above the bed is another painting by our friend and artist Max Berry.”

Image above: The sunroom is a favourite spot for our cat, Taj. Here he is sitting on an old bentwood chair with a Rachel Castle penny round cushion. The planter was bought plain, but I jazzed it up a little by painting it white and adding some polka dots for a bit of fun.”

Image above: “Looking into the lounge room from the hallway and through to the sunroom. I bought the vintage skateboards for Andrew as a birthday gift as he loves surfing and skateboarding. The wire piece above them is something I made a little while back.”


  1. Gen says:

    As Sydney is in the southern hemisphere and Vermeer was in Holland I’m confused by the comparison re. “North facing”. North facing in Australia is the equivalent of south facing in the northern hemisphere -the aspect with the most light.

  2. Sarah C. says:

    Surry Hills is adorable. Such a great neighborhood!

  3. Gabi H. says:

    I love all the colors and textures in this home. Such a lovely collection of treasures. And that bed is stunning!

  4. Liz says:

    Yes, Vermeer’s studio was north facing. So this one in Sydney should be south-facing for the same effect. I wonder if it was just the journalist who got mixed up, or does the apartment actually face the wrong way? Seems like the latter as they talk about how light-filled it is.

  5. Thuy says:

    Living room rug is amazing!

  6. Kisha says:

    This is perfect. Definitely one of my favourite tours on D*S ever. I love everything about it.

  7. ashley says:

    beautiful home. could you please tell us the name of the white paint you used for the dining room? thanks!

  8. Gemma says:

    Hi Gen and Liz – yes as we are in the southern hemisphere, being north facing means we get direct sunlight, which we love. So the lounge room and sunroom face north, while the spare room faces south.

    Ashley – I’m sorry I cannot tell you the paint name, as it was freshly painted just before we moved in!

  9. Lovely, great warmth, texture and personality

  10. AMANDA says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who reads all the way through! Northern light here in the southern hemisphere is a must have in living spaces. Southern light is best for galleries and displays as it’s more ‘flat’ and even. Yay.

  11. readerein says:

    Very glad that others – even Northern Hemisphere dwellers – picked up on the north / south disparity! Because science, DS.

  12. miss M says:

    I love the bed!
    What an amazing wedding present.

    I have a design for a platform bed which I want to have built….

    Would they be interested in a commission?


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