In designing and building traditional homes for the modern era, the late David Cheney was renowned for his obsession with the finer details.
Said to be designed to last a century or more, the architect’s homes are akin to collector’s items and to own a David Cheney home, no less renovate one, comes with a weight of responsibility.
At Walkerville, the two-storey terraced home “Newington” at 25 St Andrews Street was built in 1989, inspired by the architect’s observations of Victorian-style homes across Adelaide.
Newington’s most recent custodian, Genworth Group Development Manager Nick Diamantis, purchased the home in 2020 while he was living in Melbourne.
Nick took the opportunity to snap up the home as a long-term prospect, with an eye to one day moving back to Adelaide.
“What drew me into the house was its facade, grandeur and proportions,” says Nick.
“I’m drawn to both timeless traditional and minimalist modern-style homes and this happened to fall neatly into that traditional category for me.”
However, long-term plans were fast-tracked when the Coronavirus pandemic encouraged Nick to move back to South Australia, taking up a management role at his family’s construction business Genworth Group – where he had previously worked for several years – and moving into his property at 25 St Andrews Street, Walkerville.
“I moved into the house for a while and it was then that I started thinking about making some improvements to the property,” he says.
“COVID was a blessing in disguise in some ways because it brought me back and gave me the drive and confidence to renovate the home.
“I wanted to further enhance it into a modern family home while paying homage to the original vision for the property.”
He says renovating a David Cheney home comes with a weight of responsibility, but there was also a great opportunity to modernise the home and give it a much-needed refresh.
Nick project managed the renovation as a personal project but drew on his experience and trade contacts from working with Genworth Group, a business founded by his father Chris Diamantis.
“I’ve been born and raised in construction and design – it’s in my blood,” says Nick.
Having completed the renovation this year, Nick has decided to sell.
The most substantial change to the home was the demolition of the old staircase and the creation of a new stairwell that opened up the entrance foyer. This space is referred to as the home’s gallery as it provides soaring walls to hang art.
“The staircase was one of the biggest design challenges to overcome and it completely changed the design language of the downstairs gallery.”
One of Nick’s favourite features is the original leadlight window on the first-floor landing.
“It’s a beautiful feature that just complements the whole room,” says Nick.
“In the mornings the window gives you a beautiful rainbow of light that trickles down the staircase.”
European oak chevron flooring has been hand-laid throughout the ground floor, with the tones complemented by an imported brushed gold feature light in the entry hall.
This pendant light and wall sconces were imported from America and will be sold with the house.
“Everyone who’s been here so far absolutely loves that pendant light, it just contemporises the room; I was very glad to find that piece,” says Nick.
“I think I was able to bring the home into the 21st century with all the modern conveniences. For example, the home didn’t previously have air conditioning to certain rooms.”
Neither did the home have a proper laundry so, as part of the extensive renovations a mudroom/laundry was created with direct access to the garage.
Upstairs, access between the master bedroom and ensuite is hidden via a door in the cabinetry of the walk-in robe.
The en suite subsequently accesses the terraced balcony through French doors, opening up to the views of the Adelaide Hills.
There are three bathrooms throughout the home, all of which have been renovated.
The rear kitchen is ideal for entertaining and family living with Ceasarstone benchtops, a Falmec cylindrical rangehood and Asko appliances, with large picture windows to the back yard.
Nick hopes to find a new owner who will appreciate the traditional beauty of the home as much as he has.
“Even I didn’t expect the renovation was going to come out as beautifully as it has,” Nick says.
“It’s not every day you get to work with such a grand home with tall ceilings and good bones, so I was very lucky to have a great foundation to work with.”
The sale will be handled by Georgie Todd and Henry Gower Tillett of Harris Real Estate.