The Block’s Shel­ley Craft re­vamps her By­ron Bay gar­den to in­clude a stu­dio that’s per­fect for kids, vis­i­tors and sum­mer par­ties


TV per­son­al­ity Shel­ley Craft throws open the doors to her gar­den stu­dio in By­ron Bay

When you move to By­ron Bay, a stream of guests fol­lows, as tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Shel­ley Craft dis­cov­ered in 2016 when she moved to the hip­ster hotspot af­ter sev­eral years liv­ing in the hin­ter­land. She and her hus­band Christian Ser­gia­comi, a real es­tate agent, snagged a Paul Uhlmann-de­signed mod­ernist style house in town, with a big trop­i­cal gar­den and pool. While the quar­ter-acre block – a rel­a­tive rar­ity in town, where many blocks have been sub­di­vided – was big enough to ac­com­mo­date daugh­ters Milla, 8, and Eadie, 6, as well Rhode­sian Ridge­back Aldo, it was a bit squeezy when friends came to town.

“Re­ally, the idea started with us want­ing to make bet­ter use of the out­door space,” says Shel­ley. “The beau­ti­ful big gar­den was a lux­ury, but we wanted it to be a lit­tle bit more use­ful so that we could ac­com­mo­date guests more eas­ily.” The fam­ily brought ar­chi­tect Har­ley Graham on board be­cause of his pre­vi­ous form with gar­den stu­dios. “We are con­stantly ex­plor­ing ways to reimag­ine the quar­ter-acre block to ac­com­mo­date more than the sub­ur­ban dream of a sin­gle house and gar­den,” says Har­ley.

The stu­dio’s de­sign was driven by the ex­ist­ing house, which Shel­ley de­scribes as hav­ing a ‘Slim Aarons vibe’, ref­er­enc­ing mid-cen­tury Palm Springs ar­chi­tec­ture. “This project wasn’t about cre­at­ing some­thing to stand out, like you might see on The Block. It was about build­ing some­thing that would look like it had al­ways been here,” she says. To this end, the roofline of the new stu­dio was engi­neered to com­ple­ment the lines of the main house, and was set lower than the tree­line so as not to block any light. Tal­low wood was used to line the ceil­ing of the stu­dio to warm up the cool con­crete floor, which pro­vides a seam­less con­nec­tion with the gar­den thanks to slid­ing doors that open up the whole zone. “We de­signed the stu­dio as an aux­il­iary space con­nect­ing the ve­randa area of the ex­ist­ing home, the lawn and the gar­den with a wide open cor­ner,” ex­plains ar­chi­tect Har­ley. The slab can­tilevers out to ‘float’ above the lawn, ac­tu­ally a soft syn­thetic grass by All­weather. The low-main­te­nance turf, says Shel­ley, al­ways looks im­mac­u­late. “It makes that whole out­door area re­ally use­able,” she says. “It’s never soggy and there’s no mud through the house.”

In­side, an open-plan liv­ing area and kitch­enette lead to a bed­room and bath­room, dec­o­rated with a bold yel­low ‘Rayos Del Sol’ tile from lo­cal sup­plier Jatana In­te­ri­ors. “I saw that tile and just knew I had to de­sign the bath­room around it,” says Shel­ley. “It just fit­ted per­fectly with the feel of the house.”

Shel­ley called on The Block land­scaper Dave Franklin of Franklin Land­scape & De­sign to re­site sev­eral ma­ture palm trees and pan­danus to make room for the new stu­dio, and to work with As­tral Pools on a ren­o­va­tion of the swim­ming pool. “My brief for the pool was that it should look ice clear, like Wat­e­gos Beach on the best pos­si­ble day,” says Shel­ley.

The stu­dio was fin­ished a few months ago. “It’s been non-stop guests ever since, and it’s work­ing ex­actly as I hoped it would,” says Shel­ley. “With sum­mer com­ing, I’m see­ing great pool par­ties ahead. We’ll open up the doors and it’ll be the per­fect dance floor.” See more of Har­ley’s work at harley­gra­ham.com.The stu­dio’s builder was Ben Jol­liffe from Jbuilds, By­ron Bay, visit jbuilds.com.au. Visit Franklin Land­scape & De­sign at franklinld.com.

STU­DIO The stu­dio, de­signed by ar­chi­tect Har­ley Graham and built by Ben Jol­liffe of Jbuilds, fits per­fectly with the re­laxed hol­i­day feel of Shel­ley’s house in By­ron Bay. The AWS Van­tage slid­ing doors make the in­door/out­door tran­si­tion seam­less. Aldo, the fam­ily’s Rhode­sian Ridge­back, finds the per­fect spot to rest.

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