By avoid­ing a clichéd beach-house look, the own­ers of this beau­ti­fully re­alised home found the right bal­ance

For this fam­ily, de­sign­ing their dream beach­side home was just the be­gin­ning


The thing about de­sign­ing a beach house is this: it’s hard not to make it clichéd. For Kim­ber­ley and Ra­mon, it wasn’t about knot­ted ropes and pic­tures of sail­boats on the wall. They wanted some­thing prac­ti­cal where the form re­flected use, with­out be­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily Bru­tal­ist and with beach-house ap­peal. With two kids in the house, Jett and Hunter, plus Pep­per the poo­dle, it had to be func­tional as well as beau­ti­ful. “We didn’t want it to be fussy or pre­ten­tious,” says Kim­ber­ley.

Hav­ing knocked down the 1970s brick house that oc­cu­pied the site, Kim­ber­ley and Ra­mon set about build­ing their dream four-bed­room home over the course of a year. The cou­ple brought in Melbourne firm Far­nan Find­lay Ar­chi­tects, who de­signed four floors to fit onto a rel­a­tively small foot­print of 320 square me­tres, which makes the rooms feel cosier than your av­er­age con­tem­po­rary build­ing – a re­lief in a world of big white boxes.

When­ever it’s warm enough, the fam­ily start their day swim­ming in Syd­ney’s Gor­dons Bay, which their home over­looks “be­fore the crowds set in,” says Kim­ber­ley. It’s such a rou­tine that the house has been de­signed with a back gate that leads to the steps go­ing onto the walk­way and the bay. To hide the sand that in­evitably creeps into the house, the cou­ple re­jected glossy tim­ber floors, and in­stead clev­erly opted for re­cy­cled barn oak. The oak floor’s rough tex­ture keeps the spa­ces re­laxed and echoes the aes­thetic of the beach at the bot­tom of the hill.

In fact, tex­ture was a driv­ing force be­hind the de­sign of this build and it’s what keeps it in­ter­est­ing from slab to roof. In­side, the house is dec­o­rated min­i­mally with con­trast­ing tex­tu­ral ma­te­ri­als: tim­ber on the balustrade; lightly veined mar­ble in the kitchen; con­crete for the stair­case and the boys’ bed­room ceil­ings; and white-painted bagged brick­work for the walls. Beau­ti­ful brass han­dles on the cup­boards link all the spa­ces to­gether. “Rather than putting up a lot of art­works, the art­work is the in­te­rior it­self,” says Ra­mon. “It’s like liv­ing in a work of art.”

The out­side of the build­ing is clad in spot­ted gum, link­ing it to the beach be­low. “We chose spot­ted gum be­cause we wanted it to age,” says Kim­ber­ley of the wood that was once red, and is now a sil­very grey. “Down at Gor­dons Bay, the fish­er­men’s boats sit on these old tim­ber boat skids and we wanted the house to re­flect them. It brings the bay up here.” And the con­nec­tion to the wa­ter be­low doesn’t end there. “Then you have the na­tive flora re­serve that sur­rounds the bay,” says Ra­mon. “That’s trans­lated in our

front gar­den, bring­ing some of the wildlife up here, be­cause there’s a lot of birdlife that lives in that re­serve. We now have a fam­ily of these beau­ti­ful bril­liant-blue wrens.” The H-shaped house hosts a bam­boo gar­den in one of its two nooks – “the wrens love the bam­boo, so they’ve nested” – and a Ja­panese gar­den in the other.

And the bricks-in­side-and-wood-out­side trick is no mis­take – it’s ac­tu­ally highly func­tional for a cli­mate as change­able as Syd­ney, and works in line with the cou­ple’s green goals for the house. “The con­struc­tion method is re­verse brick ve­neer, which is tak­ing the stan­dard brick ve­neer con­struc­tion and flip­ping it,” says ar­chi­tect Michelle Find­lay, who de­signed the build­ing with her part­ner Joel Far­nan. “So you put the ther­mal mass – the bricks – on the in­side, and you put the in­su­lated light­weight con­struc­tion on the out­side. It gives you re­ally good in­ter­nal ther­mal mass, and it lev­els out any sort of fluc­tu­a­tions in the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture, mak­ing for a much more com­fort­able house in sum­mer and in win­ter. And the aes­thetic up­side of that is that you can use beau­ti­ful light­weight ma­te­rial out­side like the spot­ted gum cladding, and you get the lovely tex­tured, bagged brick­work on the in­side.”

The con­trast­ing ma­te­ri­als ex­tend to the mas­ter bed­room sit­u­ated at the build­ing’s sum­mit. En­veloped in Col­or­bond steel out­side and on the roof, ply­wood sheets are curved around the walls within, mak­ing for a boat-like ef­fect in­side. But it’s down on the large deck, just off the liv­ing area on the sec­ond floor, where the fam­ily spends most of their time. “It’s re­ally the cen­tre of our liv­ing space,” says Ra­mon. “We eat all our meals out there in the warmer months. We of­ten just sit with the mu­sic play­ing late into the evening, watch­ing the stars.”

For more info on Far­nan Find­lay, visit far­nan­find­ builder of this project was Join Con­struc­tions – go to join­con­struc­

STAIR­CASE (top left) Con­crete treads con­trast with the spot­ted gum balus­ters, which carry on to the liv­ing area, their sil­hou­ette echo­ing the bam­boo in the court­yard. KITCHEN (top right) Spot­ted gum ve­neer cab­i­nets and ‘Bianco Gioia’ mar­ble bench­tops from Arte­do­mus set the tone in the re­fined cook­ing zone. The oven is set into the space un­der the stairs in a wall clad with black-painted Amer­i­can oak. LIV­ING

AREA (op­po­site) A pair of Free­dom so­fas are com­ple­mented by a MJG ot­toman from Life In­te­ri­ors and a West Elm rug.

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