American dream Classic US style finds a home on NSW’s south coast
A VISION CRAFTED FROM HOURS OF INTERNET RESEARCH – AND A FABULOUS KITCHEN – HAS BROUGHT THIS FAMILY HOME ON THE NSW COAST TO LIFE
Inspiration can come from many directions, but for Jenna, it was all about the 2003 movie Something’s Gotta Give. “That kitchen was where the passion started,” says the mother-ofthree, whose decoration devotion to American East Coast style only grew as she immersed herself in beautiful images from other movies, TV series, Pinterest and Instagram. So by the time Jenna and her husband, Paul, bought an empty block of land on the NSW south coast, their dream home was almost fully formed in her imagination. The couple had been living in a place they’d renovated near the coastal city of Wollongong, but when their family of four grew to five – with Noah and Flynn joined by a third boy, Ethan – the house started to feel a little crowded. Determined to build their forever home from scratch, they began looking for empty blocks, finally settling on a pristine patch of land in the hills above the city. “Up on the mountain here, it’s a lot more private, more rural,” says Jenna. “We can come home from our busy lives and feel like we’re out of the city, but it’s only 15 minutes away.” The property is surrounded by untouched bushland, with only one direct neighbour (that property is owned by friends) plus room for their rambunctious boys to run wild. “We’d always wanted a single-level house and it was big enough to have that sprawling home we wanted,” she says. Local draughtsperson Nadine K Designs drew up a plan for the house, which the pair loved, but Jenna suspected it was missing a certain something that would truly capture her preferred authentic East Coast American style.
Her internet trawls soon led her to Sydneybased, US expat architect Andrew Barnyak, who the couple enlisted to further Americanise the plan. He told them, with inimitably American bluntness, exactly what needed to be done. “It was great to find someone so black and white, he really led me in the right direction,” says Jenna. Among the changes he suggested were further raising the ceiling heights, putting highlight windows above every window and door, and retweaking the layout slightly. The design is an unexpectedly good fit for Australian living. “My interpretation of the quintessential American home is that they’re very much based around the kitchen as the heart of the home,” says Jenna. Even the traditional materials of a Hamptons abode turned out to be a good fit for the location – with a bit of a twist; wooden weatherboards are replaced by James Hardie ‘Linea’ cement composite boards, chosen for their fire-retardant qualities, while the aluminium windows demanded by the bush setting are made to look like wood, with sash details and decorative timber architraves inside. In-depth research gave Jenna a clear idea of what she wanted from the interiors, but designer (and close friend) Michaela Coulson of Damien Interiors helped with the execution, guiding her in the right direction and giving her practical advice to bring the vision to life. “Every time I finished designing a room, I would go to her and ask, ‘Have I got this right?’ And then we’d work on it together and find the right materials,” says Jenna. “It was a fabulous journey to go on together.” That extra bit of effort has gone a long way to give the couple the home they wanted, a place that Jenna imagines her kids growing up in, and coming back to as adults. “The house is everything I thought it would be and more,” she says.
This light-filled area opens to the kitchen and casual dining space for family functionality. It’s a place for contemplation for Jenna, taking time out with Noah (pictured). Plush furnishings in Jenna’s preferred hues – fabrics from interior designer Michaela Coulson – give a feeling of polished intimacy, while a timber-topped coffee table from Style My Home completes the tableau. A Pottery Barn rug is a stylish match. KITCHEN “Pretty much our whole house is built around this kitchen,” remarks Jenna of the space she researched most. The Shaker-style cabinetry, classic knobs and handles and bell jar pendants from Designer Lights, were drawn from her online inspiration, while the marble splashback tiles give the kitchen a character all its own. “It’s opal green marble, readily available in a mosaic,” says Jenna of the distinctive look. “We wanted a subway tile and were lucky enough to find a company to make it for us.”
BREAKFAST NOOK “It’s common to see a breakfast nook in the kitchen area of an East Coast American house,” says Jenna, who was inspired to create something similar in her own home (opposite). Here, a brushed nickel Emac & Lawton chandelier hangs over chairs from Haven & Space in Berry and a round table from Interiors Online – the perfect size for morning tea for Flynn and Noah (pictured opposite). Behind the public face of the kitchen (above) lies one of architect Andrew Barnyak’s most practical ideas – sliding doors that bookend the kitchen, one opening to the butler’s pantry and the other to the laundry. “It has an amazing flow,” says Jenna.