As he lays eyes on the property at 71 Sturt Valley Road, Stirling for the first time, a single thought crosses Suki Cheema’s mind: I could do wonders to this place.
The London-born textile designer studied at Central Saint Martins before moving to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry – working for world-renowned designers including Diane Von Furstenberg, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
After more than a decade working with these design legends, Suki decided to carve his own path, starting a home furnishings label under his name where he creates collections inspired by art, travel and culture.
Suki moved to South Australia to be closer to family and didn’t know what to expect from Adelaide. “It wasn’t a chosen destination, just a twist of the universe, but I have been pleasantly surprised – this city has a lot to offer,” he says.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home has been Suki’s creative project for the past year, offering a canvas for him to put his ideas into practice and display his talent.
“I was attracted mostly to the layout of the house and its incredible bone structure, but also loved that it is surrounded by nature,” Suki says. “I renovated the house in a way that each room tells a story – using my own textile pieces in them and developing the space that way.”
Perched above its landscaped garden, the 1910s property flaunts a beautiful sandstone facade with white lattice accents and original leadlighting.
Inside, Suki chose an off-white colour base to contrast with the home’s Jarrah floorboards and ornate cornices.
The ground floor was updated to bring light into the property, with Suki changing the colour scheme to black and white as a way of modernising the home while maintaining its charm.
Suki says merging the kitchen with a conservatory was intended to meld inside and outside and bring nature to the forefront of the design.
“I call it ‘The Glass Kitchen’ because it has windows all the way around and a glass ceiling with skylights that you can open up to let in fresh air and sunlight.
“It is amazing having that outside reflection in the morning and being in nature while cooking or enjoying breakfast. When the sun goes down and it is starting to get dark, that change of light is so beautiful in the space.”
Dinner parties held in this home are sublime. After cooking up a storm in the kitchen and sharing a meal over a bottle of wine in the adjacent dining room, guests can flow into the formal living room and enjoy a digestif by the fire.
“The downstairs living room is a more formal space with an artistic flair to it,” Suki says. “I put my Andy Warhol Diane Von Furstenberg lithograph on the wall to give it that artistic feel. It is the kind of room that you simply want to relax in with a glass of wine.”
Upstairs has a cosier and more personal atmosphere, with three bedrooms tucked at the back and arch windows and a balcony offering vistas across the valley.
“My studio is also upstairs and it is a kind of artistic reflection of me and my work. The room’s design reflects on my life in New York and London and carries a resemblance to those cities.”
Nature encompasses the home from all angles and meandering trails wind between established trees in the native garden where koalas and bandicoots are regular visitors.
Drippers and irrigation keep grapefruit, lemon and apple trees flourishing throughout the year and the 10,000-litre water tank has a fire protection watering system to guard against bushfires.
“When the weather is nice, you find a spot to relax in the afternoon sunshine and enjoy a good book and a bottle of wine,” Suki says. “In the winter, you can have a little fire and look up to the stars at night.”
Having started a PhD in design and textiles with RMIT Melbourne, Suki has decided to sell his much-loved property to find a smaller home closer to the CBD to make travel between cities easier.
Without knowing the new owners’ interior tastes, Suki says he simply hopes they will be artistic people who can see the potential of the home in the same way he did.
“I have given them a base to work with and hopefully they will create their own version of what they see in the space. They won’t need to do any renovations; they can just move their furniture in and put their own mark on what is such a beautiful home.”
The sale is being handled by Jordan Begley of TOOP+TOOP.