Amer­i­can dream Clas­sic US style finds a home on NSW’s south coast



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.

LIV­ING ROOM 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...

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...

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