Australian House & Garden
Perfect Harmony Barefoot elegance abounds at this Sydney home beside the seaside.
This home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches proves that a laidback, barefoot feel doesn’t preclude the use of luxurious touches.
Refined yet relaxed, this home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was expertly transformed by interior designer Arabella Gardiner for a pair of empty-nesters who saw the potential for it to become the epitome of resort-style living. The couple bought the property in the 1990s, when it was a simple weatherboard structure with yellowed walls and timber floors that had seen better days. “‘Fisherman’s shack’ would probably be the best description,” says Arabella, “but the block was large and level, it was close to Pitt water and the homeowners knew that with a little work, it could become a real retreat.” Rather than knocking the shack down, the owners chose to restore and add to it, with renovations taking place in three stages. The most recent works, undertaken in 2018, saw the home extended to make space for a main bedroom with direct access to the pool. New parquetry flooring went in, the living spaces were opened up, and the kitchen reconfigured to accommodate an exquisite centrepiece: a marble-clad island. “The island was inspired by a piece I’d seen by French interior designer and architect Joseph Dirand,” says Arabella. “I fell in love with the profiling of Dirand’s bench and because the homeowners adore marble, I thought I would hero it here.” Complementing the marble are suspended brass shelves that tie in with brass-finish tapware and pulls for the integrated fridge. Floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains soften the space and wide-gauge parquetry balances the lines in the V-groove ceiling. “It’s not an enormous house, but the broad floorboards help it feel bigger.”
“THERE’S AN EASE TO THIS HOUSE – IT ACKNOWLEDGES ITS LOCATION WITHOUT BEING OVERTLY BEACHY.” Arabella Gardiner, interior designer
Adjacent to the kitchen is the living area, redesigned to feel “more contained and cinemalike”. Here, tall banks of joinery replace some of the storage lost by opening up the kitchen and dining area. Elsewhere in this room, there is a new fireplace that features a bullnose sandstonesurround.“Iwaskeentocreatetheimpressionthatthere’dalwaysbeenafireplace in that spot – even though there hasn’t,” says Arabella.
The hallway leads to the main bedroom suite, where french doors open out to the pool. “The sound of the pool’s waterfall feature creates a distinct holiday vibe here.” Further enhancing the house’s resort feel, white plantation shutters are used throughout and the mirror-walled study and two guestrooms each look out to a pond. “The owners love entertaining, so the poolside area is set up to facilitate that,” explains Arabella. Lush tropical plantings complete the holiday-at-home picture. “The owners enjoy their time outdoors, spending happy hours tending to the garden or swimming laps. The pool is a consistent depth (2 metres) and is lined with beautiful glass mosaics that appear either a deep blue or green, depending on the light.”
The house is now perfectly tailored to the needs of its summer-loving owners, people who really value their space and privacy. “This is a home that feels contemporary, open and liveable but also polished. There’s a strong sense of it being a personal haven for its owners – it’s just so incredibly peaceful here.”
“THERE’S A LIGHTNESS AND PEACEFULNESS TO THIS HOME.” Arabella