Thanks to the generous support of Sydney Living Museums’ Foundation, the refurbishment of the drawing and orientation rooms at Vaucluse House is now complete.

Two significant projects have come to fruition at Vaucluse House. The drawing room refurbishment draws upon authentic sources and traditional trades to re-create a room that the Wentworths might have known, while the orientation room has been redesigned to enhance visitors’ understanding of the site’s complex history. The results were unveiled in April 2017. It is through the generous financial support of the SLM Foundation and our donors that we are able to continue our important work in preserving our heritage for future generations.

The drawing room

The drawing room – now considered one of the finest surviving colonial interiors in Australia – was built and furnished by William Charles and Sarah Wentworth in the 1840s. In 2017, we see it transformed by experts for the next generation of visitors. The refurbishment has been a labour of scholarship, dedication and care.

No pictorial evidence of the original drawing room survives, so our only snippet of information is an auction advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1853, when the family was preparing to leave Australia for England. It listed a variety of furniture for sale, comprising ottomans, sofas and easy chairs in ‘elaborately carved rosewood’ and upholstered in crimson silk damask. Without a fragment of this original upholstery, SLM worked with Richard Humphries from Humphries Weaving in Suffolk, England, to source damask of an appropriate design, colour and quality.

As a significant original finish, the colour and design of the floral wallpaper frieze was an important reference point and guided the decision-making process. Midway through 2016, over 200 metres of this splendid custom-woven crimson damask was shipped to Sydney. The furniture – including two single-ended sofas, stools, a pair of ottomans and five Wentworth-provenanced chairs – was expertly reupholstered by Carlos Rodrigues.