DREAM IT. DESIGN IT. DO IT.
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.