A calm­ing pal­ette and clever fit-out de­liver a re­laxed coastal hol­i­day home where walk-in, walk-out liv­ing is a pri­or­ity


Walk-in, walk-out liv­ing was a pri­or­ity when de­sign­ing this re­laxed sea­side hol­i­day home

“We fo­cused on a calm­ing pal­ette, lay­ered tex­tures and graphic art­works as a nod to the fam­ily’s re­laxed but so­phis­ti­cated style.” JESSICA BETTENAY, IN­TE­RIOR DE­SIGNER

Own­ing a sea­side hol­i­day house is a dream of many, par­tic­u­larly city dwellers keen for a more re­laxed pace of life. Vic­to­ri­ans Joe and Olivia Bar­tolo, one such cou­ple, were look­ing for a week­ender where fam­ily out­ings to the beach were only a short walk away, de­liv­er­ing a break from their hec­tic city life­style. Not for them, though, the tra­di­tional 1950s-era fi­bro shack. In­stead, the pair had a mod­ern, low-main­te­nance abode in mind, and found just that when con­struc­tion com­pany Civilex, of which Joe and Olivia are di­rec­tors, be­gan build­ing a block of units in the sea­side town of Torquay. Joe had fond child­hood mem­o­ries of vis­it­ing the scenic surf­ing town, and its prox­im­ity to Mel­bourne was a fur­ther draw­card.


Cen­trally po­si­tioned close to beaches and shops, the project met Joe and Olivia’s main re­quire­ment of a key lo­ca­tion, and they snapped up one of the three-bed­room town­houses. How­ever, they soon dis­cov­ered the floor­plan needed tweak­ing to cater to their life­style. Joe en­gaged de­sign firm Res­i­dent Av­enue to tackle the changes and gave them carte blanche to dec­o­rate the home from the ground up.

“The fam­ily wanted a beach house they could walk into af­ter a busy week and have ev­ery­thing they needed, and some­where they could leave af­ter a week­end with ev­ery­thing in its place,” ex­plains Res­i­dent Av­enue’s se­nior de­signer Jessica Bettenay, who worked with Joe and Olivia on the project. “Low main­te­nance was key.”

There was also a de­sire for pre­mium fin­ishes that used nat­u­ral tex­tures and tones to de­liver a light, airy and re­laxed coastal vibe and con­nec­tion to the out­doors, all the while of­fer­ing a sleek and mod­ern take on the tra­di­tional beach house.


It was a de­lib­er­ate re­sponse, Jessica says, to present a home where the fam­ily could un­wind, via both low-main­te­nance liv­ing and an easy am­bi­ence. “Given that this was a hol­i­day home, we needed to find fin­ishes that were su­pe­rior in qual­ity but sen­si­ble in price,” she says. “Clever de­sign doesn’t al­ways mean top-of-the-range prod­uct. There are some amaz­ing prod­ucts in the Aus­tralian mar­ket place that de­liver ex­cep­tional qual­ity with a sen­si­ble price tag.”

Jessica rear­ranged the foot­print of the kitchen to cre­ate more stor­age, in­tro­duc­ing cup­boards to con­ceal things such as the toaster and ket­tle. “We also made the bath­room big­ger up­stairs and added a sep­a­rate toi­let by re­mov­ing a cupboard, as am­ple stor­age had been in­jected else­where,” she says.

The floor­boards and car­pet were se­lected for their user-friendly soft grey un­der­tones, de­liv­er­ing a light, beachy feel, with the pal­ette ex­tended to the muted quartz bench­tops in Smart­stone Athena. “It pro­vides a fan­tas­tic, durable op­tion, again with a warm grey through­out,” adds Jessica.

Neu­tral ma­te­ri­als such as leather ac­cents, wall pan­elling and fea­ture tiles add in­ter­est while main­tain­ing a time­less look. “It was about clean, sim­ple ma­te­ri­als, el­e­ments which added new lay­ers and tex­ture,” ex­plains Jessica.


The process from de­sign to dec­o­rat­ing was rea­son­ably seam­less thanks largely to the com­mit­ted work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the de­signer and her clients. “The key to a suc­cess­ful build­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion is en­gag­ing the right de­signer,” says Joe. “It’s their ex­per­tise that can save you on money and mis­takes. Jessica has been our go-to for three years, and in­ti­mately un­der­stands our life­style.”

En­trusted with ev­ery­thing from help­ing to cus­tomise the floor­plan and se­lect­ing ma­te­ri­als, fin­ishes and fix­tures, through to choos­ing com­ple­men­tary dé­cor pieces – ev­ery­thing from tow­els to art and fur­ni­ture – the re­sult is a co­he­sive and so­phis­ti­cated hol­i­day home.

“Adding colour and in­ter­est from the dec­o­rat­ing el­e­ments al­lows the home to feel warm,” says Jessica. “It would have been easy to come in and say, ‘Let’s do white’. But it was about go­ing that ex­tra mile with tex­ture and sub­tle pat­tern, which makes for a re­ally fresh and de­tailed look ­– and some­thing that’s a bit more per­son­able.”

The func­tion­al­ity of the space also means there is more time for the fam­ily to en­joy their time by the sea. Kay­den and Mila di­vide their time be­tween the beach and the skate park, while Ch­ester en­joys mak­ing the most of Torquay’s ex­ten­sive coast­line. “We love our walk-in, walk-out beach house,” says Joe.

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