The French con­nec­tion

A beau­ti­ful beach house takes an un­ex­pected turn

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - More De­cus In­te­ri­ors, de­cus.com.au; Square De­sign, square­design.com.au Pic­tures An­son Smart

When most de­sign­ers talk about coastal style, this house is not the first thing that springs to mind. With Bouddi Na­tional Park over the back fence and Kill­care Beach spread out in front of it, this house in the last stages of con­struc­tion could have gone very dif­fer­ently.

But in­te­rior de­signer Alexan­dra Dono­hoe from De­cus In­te­ri­ors says the clients were very clear in their brief.

“The clients trav­elled ex­ten­sively and they re­ally love old farm­houses in France,” Alexan­dra says.

Her chal­lenge was to cre­ate that French farm­house feel that would still feel right at home on the Aus­tralian coast.

“It was a bit tricky but the styles are not po­lar op­po­sites,” she says.

From the farm to the beach

By the time Alexan­dra was called in, the over­all struc­ture of the house had al­ready come to­gether, thanks to Syd­ney builder Dan Clift from Square De­sign.

While the main materials were con­crete and glass, most of the in­te­rior ar­chi­tec­ture was still a work in progress. Alexan­dra stepped in to cre­ate the French farm­house look the clients de­sired.

“Ini­tially we came in for the fur­ni­ture but to­wards the end it be­came ap­par­ent that Dan had quite a bit on and we were asked to do the join­ery as well,” she says. “They started the process be­fore we ar­rived and we were tasked with mar­ry­ing those el­e­ments with pol­ished con­crete floor­ing and off form con­crete walls.”

Get­ting the bal­ance right and look­ing for com­mon­al­i­ties proved key to its suc­cess.

“You can­not place French farm­house style next to a con­crete floor and ex­pect it to work,” Alexan­dra says. “It has to be mas­saged by adding things like darker join­ery in the li­brary and living ar­eas and then us­ing fur­ni­ture with ref­er­ence to re­laxed beach house style with farm­house din­ing el­e­ments.”

She also used a cou­ple of im­ages the own­ers had given her of rooms they liked as ref­er­ence points through­out the process.

Each room also has a clear pal­ette, with two paint­ings, in­clud­ing one by artist Tim Sum­mer­ton, pro­vid­ing the colour cues.

“The art­works were from the clients’ Syd­ney home,” she says. “We weren’t sure we were go­ing to use them both but in the end they worked re­ally well. “The din­ing room one is per­fect from a scale and pal­ette per­spec­tive.”

When less re­ally is more

Alexan­dra ad­mits that this house had the po­ten­tial to be a de­sign dis­as­ter.

“This could have gone ei­ther way,” she says. “Some­times clients want to put ev­ery sin­gle in­gre­di­ent in the room and we have to nav­i­gate those wa­ters to re­move as many un­nec­es­sary el­e­ments as pos­si­ble.

“It’s a real chal­lenge to talk peo­ple back but if you in­clude ev­ery­thing, noth­ing will be able to shine through. In the end, we want the clients to be happy.”

The out­door space over­look­ing the beach is a mix of glass, con­crete and tim­ber

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