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KICK OFF YOUR SHOES

KICK OFF YOUR SHOES

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IF THERE’S SOMETHING every successful beach house should inspire you to do, the moment you’re inside the front door, it’s to kick off your shoes. And this, says the fortunate owner of this elegantly laid-back holiday home — with its washed-out textural tones and splashes of vivid colour – three hours north by road from Sydney, is precisely what she feels like doing every time she enters. “Everything opens up so you almost feel like you are on a large veranda,” she adds. “You instantly leave the city behind and can relax and enjoy.”

When the owners first planned their new home-away-from-home two-and-a-half years ago, the key thing was creating something that would be a departure from the dark-timbered Federation house in the city where they spent the rest of the time.

The brand new beach retreat was to have five bedrooms (including a bunk room) and four bathrooms  — to accommodate a large extended family — and had to be somewhere that was “very, very relaxed,” says the owner. “We wanted to be able to have people sitting on a sofa with a wet costume and not get too worried about it. It’s to be lived in and enjoyed.”

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“We wanted to be able to have people sitting on a sofa with a wet costume and not get too worried about it. It’s to be lived in and enjoyed.”

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An existing dwelling on the absolute beachfront block was demolished and in its place, Studio Blue Architects, in league with interior designers Hare + Klein, fashioned a two-storey, timber-clad (both outside and in), Cape Cod-esque weekender that opens wide to the ocean view, salt air and sea breezes.

Downstairs are the kitchen and living spaces and above are the sleeping quarters. Each of the bedrooms has its own balcony and each (except the bunk room) boasts a view of the water. The big, open plan living space downstairs, which throws open to a deep front terrace, is anchored around the kitchen’s concrete island bench.

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What really sets this house apart however is the expert use of subtle texture and rich colour accents. One of the first things you notice are the three over-sized wicker lampshades above the bench, from Melbourne’s Hermon and Hermon. The mix of fabrics meanwhile is a rich symphony of stripes, bright pinks, blues, ochres, browns, greys and oranges against a Dulux ‘vivid white’ backdrop.

Hare + Klein interior decorator Anna Douglas, in concert with the company’s designers Merryl Hare and Sarah Marriott, were responsible for the finishes, fabrics and furniture selections. The fabrics used in the living spaces were, explains Douglas, predominantly designed for outdoors – but here their use indoors has been calculated to bear the rigours of the sun, salt air and the occasional soggy, bathers-clad bottom. The furniture is a mix of the custom-made (like the magnificent dining table) and the pre-loved – like the distressed Chinese industrial cupboard beside it. “It’s a mix so that it looks like it has evolved,” explains the owner.

Not to mention a place where stepping out of your shoes and socks is your very first act when you arrive.

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KRISTINA ALVAREZ

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