MONIQUE

Monique and An­drea are turn­ing a post-war weath­er­board into a fam­ily home with that un­mis­tak­able hol­i­day feel.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Monique bought an old weath­er­board on the coast – now she’s re­viv­ing its beachy hol­i­day house charm.

“I’M NOT SURE IF WE found this house, or if the house found us! It was two years ago, I was heav­ily preg­nant and my hus­band, An­drea, and I were a week away from start­ing de­mo­li­tion on a fish­er­man’s cot­tage we owned in Sydney’s east­ern sub­urbs. On a whim, we de­cided to take a drive to the north­ern beaches. We stuck our heads into an auc­tion for a prop­erty high up on the plateau over­look­ing New­port Beach. Af­ter a 30-sec­ond prop­erty in­spec­tion and a win­ning bid, the prop­erty was ours! A year later, we moved in and be­gan work.

New be­gin­nings

The orig­i­nal post-war bun­ga­low was ex­tended 20 years ago, so we’ve been ren­o­vat­ing it to re­store the essence of a true beach house. We call this weath­er­board ‘cot­tage in the sky’ La Casa Bianca, which stems from my hus­band’s Ital­ian back­ground. The house was run-down and dirty when

we bought it, and be­ing white the dirt re­ally shows! It’s quite old, so a lot of our im­me­di­ate work was on the aes­thet­ics, but ma­jor changes in­clude re­design­ing the front court­yard to give it a Tus­can feel, and weath­er­board­ing the garage to match the rest of the house. It’s been great to move in our fur­nish­ings, home­wares and art­work, and add my in­te­rior touch.

Defin­ing the look

The style I’m cre­at­ing is Nan­tucket coastal ca­sual (Nan­tucket is a tiny is­land off Cape Cod on Amer­ica’s north-east coast). Any struc­tural or dec­o­rat­ing choice has to pass my test ques­tion: “Would you ex­pect this in a hol­i­day beach house?” And there’s an emo­tional side to it, too; I want to recre­ate that mag­i­cal feel­ing of child­hood hol­i­day mem­o­ries. Ev­ery­thing in the house rep­re­sents my own and my hus­band’s cul­tures and old homes: the trop­ics and colo­nial airs of East Africa and Malawi, where I was born, to the clas­sic coun­try style of homely English cot­tages, be­cause I lived in the UK for a while, and the more rus­tic charm of Ital­ian ru­ral homes, for my hus­band’s child­hood. Now we work our shared Aus­tralian beach life­style into the mix.

Style foun­da­tions

If there’s one con­sis­tent el­e­ment in my house, it’s the cane fur­ni­ture I im­port from Malawi. I’m bi­ased, I sup­pose, but I re­ally value the qual­ity and crafts­man­ship of these hand­made pieces. The other im­por­tant theme is white: white, white and white!

I am very par­tic­u­lar about which whites I use, pre­fer­ring those that have more black in them to make them cooler shades. For ex­am­ple,

I will play with per­cent­ages of black in Du­lux Lex­i­con to cre­ate ei­ther a brighter white, or one that can give a touch of grey or blue, depend­ing on the sun­light hit­ting the room.

Busy spa­ces

Even with all the white, the house is made en­tirely from wood so it nat­u­rally feels warmer. In win­ter, we find any ex­cuse to use our beau­ti­ful but un­der­stated fire­place. To smell the wood smoke when you’re out­side and hear the crack­les when you’re cosied up un­der blan­kets on the sofa is bliss!

I think the in­te­rior of any home should al­low its house­hold to live the best life pos­si­ble. When dec­o­rat­ing, I like to take into con­sid­er­a­tion ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing that lives un­der our roof and the hob­bies we have. For ex­am­ple, the hall­way to the front door is such a busy thor­ough­fare that deals with all the com­ings and go­ings of our fam­ily: muddy work boots, shoes worn when walk­ing the dog and our daugh­ter’s gum­boots are all left here. All our an­i­mals run in and out, and it’s also the all-im­por­tant route from kitchen to pizza oven that we have to nav­i­gate with fresh pizza bal­anced on pad­dles. So it’s a must that this space is con­stantly kept tidy and or­gan­ised, which we do with wall hooks, a bench seat and shoe stor­age.

Lit­tle touches

My ap­proach to dec­o­rat­ing is you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Take the time to shop around, re­search on­line and don’t rush into any­thing – shop wisely and build over time. My ce­ram­ics col­lec­tion has evolved over the last 10 years. Many of them are from Mud Aus­tralia, and it started with just a few small espresso cups!

Lo­cally, my favourite stores are Beach­wood, Africanolo­gie and Home On Dar­ley. And I’m get­ting the most pos­i­tive feed­back at the mo­ment (be­cause it’s win­ter) about my faux fur throws – all of them cost around $60.

Our home is an in­spir­ing space and a place to re­lax. When you walk in, there’s the in­stant feel­ing of be­ing on hol­i­day and away from the norms of life.”

Group sea-blue planters in dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes.

OUT­SIDE Up high The front bal­conies look over New­port Beach and out to the ocean.

EN­TRY WAY Come on in This busy space is kept tidy with coat hooks and a nar­row bench.

Monique im­ports this cane chair from Malawi.

LIV­ING ROOM Warm up Monique finds “any ex­cuse” to light the wood fire. Sofa from Pottery Barn; cof­fee ta­ble from Beach­wood.

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