SHIPPING NEWS

Australian House & Garden
A long-held dream to own a home in one of Victoria’s sleepy seaside villages sees this expat family regularly wash up in Point Lonsdale.

Olive branches cut from an established tree at the rear of the property splay out of a basket in the fireplace. Photography Nikole Ramsay.

Olive branches cut from an established tree at the rear of the property splay out of a basket in the fireplace. Photography Nikole Ramsay.

By the time the owners of this house and their three children charge through the front door, they are desperately in need of a holiday. For this expat family based in Singapore, their Federation cottage in Point Lonsdale, on the Victorian coast, is a beloved bolthole, an opportunity to reconnect and to experience village life. 

 “Our kids love coming home to Australia – having a back garden and a beach across the road,” says the owner. “Our son rides his bike to his friends’ places and we feel very comfortable as the village is small and family oriented. I also like the way my two eldest walk down to the newsagents to buy their weekly $2 lolly bag. I’m not sure how many places there are in Australia where kids can still do that.”

The couple, who hail from Melbourne and Sydney, bought the house in 2015 to deepen their connection to this town of about 2500 people on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula. “We had dreamt of owning a place in ‘Lonnie’ since we were first married,” says the owner. “We even spent the first few nights of our honeymoon in the area, we love it so much.”

‘We had dreamt of owning a place in “Lonnie” since we were first married.’

The family had long rented a property here for their biannual holidays but that all changed when they spied this historical beachfront residence for sale. During the 19th century it was home to the captain of the pilot boats that were tasked with steering ships through the treacherous entrance to Port Phillip Bay. As such, it’s one of the few houses in Point Lonsdale with direct sea views. They snapped it up, deciding to make it available for rent when they weren’t in residence.  

The family’s extensive collection of indigenous and Australian artworks – fresh out of storage for the first time in years – set the palette for a revamp by interior designer Rebecca Jansma of Space Grace & Style.

functional layout that could withstand all the knocks from summer renters was the prime requirement for the kitchen.

functional layout that could withstand all the knocks from summer renters was the prime requirement for the kitchen.

With “casual, relaxed and practical yet sophisticated” the aim – and retro and coastal references a no-no – this revamp needed to take a more timeless approach. “As such, antiques were crucial,” says Rebecca, “They have the ability to instantly provide a settled-in look.” She worked from scratch, sourcing and acquiring significant pieces, then working them back with tribal artefacts, woven rugs and classic soft furnishings, always with one eye on practicality. “Rebecca really channelled the house’s maritime history in a unique way, reflecting a sense of seagoing adventure,” says the owner. “It helps make the place unique.”

The unchanged layout is straightforward: a central hallway with bedrooms and a living area on either side, and the rear area housing the kitchen, dining and a second living area, all enveloped by a wraparound verandah. The cherry on top is a gorgeous little widow’s keep, accessed by an internal ladder staircase, with views over the water. It’s a beautiful little eyrie, tailor-made for quiet time, with one eye on the rolling sea.

Space Grace & Style, Newtown, Victoria; www.spacegraceandstyle.com.au or 0419 105 121. This house is available for holiday rent at www.kerleys.com.au/3116965.

CREATIVELY INCLINED

Australian House & Garden
A sloping site provided the opportunity for this Melbourne family to implement some clever layout ideas – and enjoy some surprising benefits.

Homeowners Craig and Megan Bates with their sons Ethan (left) and Campbell. Their new home presents a modern face to the street. photography Martina Gemmola

Homeowners Craig and Megan Bates with their sons Ethan (left) and Campbell. Their new home presents a modern face to the street. photography Martina Gemmola

When Megan Bates was appointed to a teaching position at a prestigious school in south-east Melbourne, it set off a chain of events that ultimately changed her family’s address and lifestyle.

Megan and her husband Craig seized the day and enrolled their two sons – Campbell, now eight, and Ethan, seven – at the school. The only problem was that the family was living miles away. They immediately began to look for a home near the school, only to discover that houses in the area were either prohibitively expensive or had such poor layouts that the couple would have exhausted their budget trying to remedy the existing problems.

Then they came across a property in such bad repair it was advertised as land with a ‘free’ house. “It was disgusting,” says Craig. “It had a bluestone fence, an old fibro pool out front and a wall covered in mould.” To top it off, there was a 9m drop from the front of the site to the back.

‘We’re 8km from the city but from here, all I can see are the top of the trees and views down into the valley.’

This losing combination had scared off many potential buyers, but the couple realised they were well placed to take advantage of it. “Building on a slope was an attractive idea,” says Craig. “Our current house was on a similar, north-facing, sloping site and had a split-level layout that worked for us.”

They decided they could parlay the layout of their old home into a new build, with living areas on the entry level and bedrooms below. Furthermore, they had some clever ideas about how to counter the biggest problem on such a block: drawing light into the south-facing rear.

“We decided to put two pavilions, in the form of a pool and an alfresco kitchen, in the middle of the entry level, for the purpose of putting big windows around those areas to draw light into the back of the house,” says Craig.

A compact study is concealed behind a sliding door in the kitchen.

A compact study is concealed behind a sliding door in the kitchen.

Craig found the perfect project partners when he googled ‘sloping-block builders’ and came up with Rycon Building Group. Today, after a 16-month build, the family’s new home is a wonderful example of how to turn a negative into a positive.

The home presents a contemporary face to the street. Inside, a central hall leads to a guestroom and ensuite on the eastern side, then the pool. On the western side, a few steps up, is a garage, mudroom, powder room and storage space, followed by the outdoor kitchen, accessed via sliding doors from the hallway. As anticipated, glazing on the northern face draws welcome light into the next section, an open-plan kitchen/dining/living area with views over the bushland valley below. 

“We’re 8km from the city and from here all I can see are the tops of the trees and views down into the valley. It feels as though we could be out in the hills,” says Craig.

‘In the main bedroom, stone-look tiles, timber and flowing curtains give it that retreat feel.’

Downstairs is a main bedroom suite, the boys’ rooms and their shared bathroom, a playroom and laundry. One of the benefits of having bedrooms on this lower level is that the extra distance from the street ensures absolute quiet.

Another aspect that makes the house work so well is its well-resolved interior. Craig’s sister, interior designer Adele Bates, stepped in to help here. Craig and Megan had settled on a warm, industrial aesthetic, with statement finishes in timber, concrete and black. Adele worked in refined details to create what she describes as a “clean, contemporary and minimalistic look”, with special elements throughout that add charm and warmth. In the process, Craig learned a lot from his little sister. “Adele taught me to keep the core elements relatively simple, then accessorise with different things to provide a bit of a feature,” he says.

All in all, it’s been a great education in the theory and practice of creating a happy, functional family home.

Adele Bates Design, South Melbourne, Victoria; (03) 9686 0852 or www.adelebates.com.au. Rycon Building Group, Blackburn, Victoria; (03) 9894 1500 or ryconbg.com.au.

PLAIN SAILING

Australian House & Garden
In a tightly held waterside Sydney suburb, one family’s pursuit of their dream property nets a home with all the benefits of resort-style living.

Frequent entertainers, the owners of this bayside home in southern Sydney wanted to wow their guests from the outset. Mature date palms, a granite path and immediate view of the 15m pool do the trick. PHOTOGRAPHY John Paul Urizar.

Frequent entertainers, the owners of this bayside home in southern Sydney wanted to wow their guests from the outset. Mature date palms, a granite path and immediate view of the 15m pool do the trick. PHOTOGRAPHY John Paul Urizar.

Many home journeys involve chance or good fortune; others are strewn with hurdles. In the case of this Sydney family, the dogged pursuit of location, land and an on-point home design have yielded the ultimate reward: the home of their dreams. And so it is that a decade after identifying their ideal home scenario, they are excitedly anticipating Christmas in their spectacular digs.

Their journey began when the couple, now parents to two teenagers, realised they no longer enjoyed living in their very contemporary home; the high-gloss finishes and spare details were giving them an aesthetic headache.

In 2005 they began the search for the right piece of land in their chosen location, Burraneer Bay in Sydney’s south. They had very specific criteria: it had to be a large block with an ‘estate’ feel that received morning and afternoon sun, and it needed to be on the waterfront with useable facilities. Only 40 homes fitted the bill.

‘I thought a lot about how we could create a calm and coastal feel, and came up with “Hamptons, with a touch of Palm Beach”.’

After a four-year search and year-long negotiation with the owner of one of these prized patches, the family secured a 2650m2 waterfront block and moved into the existing house. They wanted to experience it – and its wind directions in particular – through the seasons.

During that time the husband dwelt upon what their new home would look like. “I thought a lot about how we could create a calm and coastal feel, and came up with ‘Hamptons, with a touch of [Sydney’s] Palm Beach’,” he says. But – cue next challenge – his wife wasn’t convinced.

Ever practical, he took her on a ‘site visit’ to Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica; a resort known for its Hamptons aesthetic,  then on to the famed east-coast holiday location itself. Happily, it was an easy sell.

The stairs and one wall are all that remain of the original home. Furniture placement and rugs demarcate zones in this open-plan space, with the selective use of detailed panelling creating a sense of intimacy. Teenagers Declan and Taylor, with cavoodle Bolli, enjoy the build up to Christmas Day.

The stairs and one wall are all that remain of the original home. Furniture placement and rugs demarcate zones in this open-plan space, with the selective use of detailed panelling creating a sense of intimacy. Teenagers Declan and Taylor, with cavoodle Bolli, enjoy the build up to Christmas Day.

The couple hired an architectural draftsperson to draw up plans for a two-storey, four-bedroom home that paid special attention to framing the views. They requested an open-plan kitchen and living areas, a 15m pool and outdoor kitchen on the entry level, with bedrooms, each with an ensuite, on the floor below.

Interior architect Tonka Andjelkovic was brought on board to create the ‘calm coastal’ look, with interior decorator Malise Sassano briefed to fill it out.

Today, after a 19-month build and some settling in, the family couldn’t be happier. On the first floor, engineered European-oak floorboards provide a solid base and absorb light, the matt finish reducing glare. The Australian/Hamptons style comes together via details such as shiplap panelling, ceiling mouldings and a bevelled-glass front door. When furnishing the home, Tonka and Malise chose weathered timber pieces, woven rugs, linens and accessories in whites and blues with soft, beachy appeal.

With their long-held home goal realised, this family is intent on enjoying – and sharing – the spoils.

Tonka Andjelkovic Design, Bondi Junction, NSW; 0418 479 581 or www.tonkaandjelkovicdesign.com. Malise Sassano, Edgecliff, NSW; 0410 474 424.

PROOF POSITIVE

Australian House & Garden
Clever layout tweaks coupled with a can-do attitude paved the way for the renovation of this Sydney home, the love child of an interior designer and her builder husband.

Owner Alanna Smit with her children (from left) Maisie, Penelope and Sam. Her husband Mike made the pizza oven. Photography by Simon Whitbread.

Owner Alanna Smit with her children (from left) Maisie, Penelope and Sam. Her husband Mike made the pizza oven. Photography by Simon Whitbread.

Aside from vision and talent, there are less-acknowledged attributes that make for a successful renovator. Patience, forbearance and a positive attitude are essential. Interior designer Alanna Smit needed plenty of each when her husband Mike instigated the renovation of their three-bedroom weatherboard cottage on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 2008.

“I came home from hospital with our newborn, Sam, and the front of the property was dug up,” she says. For the following six months, Alanna – with baby Sam and her two toddlers Maisie and Penelope in tow – had to traipse through their neighbour’s property to access her home.
Mike, a master builder, had been itching to begin. The couple had spent three years refining their vision for the property, using all their experience to make the most of the cottage and its 700m2 plot.

The family lived in two rooms while the house was rebuilt around them, enduring six months without a kitchen and what felt like a lifetime of torrential rain. Still, Alanna looked on the bright side. “I never had to have anyone over, or clean the house, so in a way it was quite convenient. And I could take the washing to the laundromat.”

‘I believe what’s outside the home is just as important as inside. I’m always considering what’s going on outside a window or how one is greeted at the door.’

Their plan was to excavate the hillside the house was perched upon to allow for a four-car garage at the front of the property; this aspect was non-negotiable as the home is also the base for the couple’s design and construction business.

They then extended the house at the front to accommodate a new bathroom and two new bedrooms. This footprint meets their office and a rooftop garden on top of the garage. “We work together and talk about the business a lot, so we wanted the office to be completely out of sight from the house, and therefore out of mind,” says Alanna.

Internal tweaks were also in order: the couple turned an adjacent bedroom into an ensuite for their bedroom, and transformed another into a music/guestroom. An extra metre in width and pitched roof were added to the rear living area to correct its proportions and a bathroom removed to make the galley kitchen a more spacious proposition. An outdoor entertaining zone was added off the living area, shaped around the existing frangipani, and to top it off, a shed at the rear of the property was transformed into guest accommodation. 

Alanna bought the sofa from a friend and had it reupholstered. “That was almost eight years ago and, yes, it’s still white!” she says, laughing.

Alanna bought the sofa from a friend and had it reupholstered. “That was almost eight years ago and, yes, it’s still white!” she says, laughing.

Time in the trade taught the couple a few tricks that paid off handsomely, the most striking of which is the new 2.5m wide, double-height foyer. With glazing on two sides and a hand-stacked dry-stone wall, this arresting space works as a lightwell, allows for cross-ventilation and most importantly, creates the impression of a more spacious house to follow. “In fact, the room sizes are standard,” says Alanna.

Aesthetically, it also paves the way for Alanna’s interior approach – a deft Australian take on plantation and Hamptons style. Here, a combination of reworked family heirlooms, garage-sale finds and carefully selected designer pieces are woven into a casual yet sophisticated space. This practical, unprecious approach suits the home’s era and enables, rather than circumscribes, daily life for this young family.

With Sam now four, Penelope, six, and Maisie, seven, and the house humming along nicely, the importance of those early days of planning is apparent. “I love it when the house is filled with people,” says Alanna. “The kids play out the back and I’ll entertain with a table full of food. Some of our best days are spent that way.”

Alanna Smit Structural Interiors, Newport, NSW; alannasmit.com.au. Mike Smit Constructions, Newport, NSW; www.mikesmitconstructions.com.au.

MODERN LOVE

Australian House & Garden
Tucked away behind a high fence, this tailor-made Melbourne home provides a beautiful backdrop for its modernist-leaning owners, writes Vanessa Walker.

Meagan gives Harry the spoodle a tickle in the light-flooded living room. Photography by Eve Wilson.

Meagan gives Harry the spoodle a tickle in the light-flooded living room. Photography by Eve Wilson.

A year after Meagan and her husband Steven missed out on their dream home at auction, they bought this block in Melbourne’s inner north. The existing house had no redeeming features, however, so was swiftly demolished in preparation for the couple to build anew. “I told my book club and they said the first thing I had to do was get an architect,” says Meagan. “I didn’t know what one was.” They dutifully furnished her with a list of their favourites.

Meagan and Steven chose Steffen Welsch, principal of Steffen Welsch Architects, because he seemed down-to-earth. What they didn’t realise was how well-suited he was to them personally. “He is German, calm and a minimalist,” says Meagan. And, as it turned out, that both aligned with, and encouraged, their nascent design ideas.

‘I love the way the house has been custom made for me and Steven.’

Top of Meagan’s wish list was personal security, for both their beloved pets – Julia and Cordelia the Russian blues and Harry the spoodle – and themselves. She also wanted indoor-outdoor flow and lots of light. Steven simply wanted not to feel hemmed in by four walls: he envisaged high ceilings, sliding doors and a courtyard.

Today, after a two-year, faultless build by Lee Gordon, they reside in a highly liveable, divinely detailed, two-bedroom home. Tucked behind high fences, they enjoy not one but four courtyards as well as floor-to-ceiling glazing that bathes the home in natural light.

KITCHEN Printed on glass, an Alex Hotchin illustration is transformed into a deeply personal, one-of-a-kind splashback. DINING Steven has loved parquetry floors since he was a teenager; Steffen had Australian beech parquetry laid in the dining area, kitchen and as a ‘rug’ in the library.

KITCHEN Printed on glass, an Alex Hotchin illustration is transformed into a deeply personal, one-of-a-kind splashback. DINING Steven has loved parquetry floors since he was a teenager; Steffen had Australian beech parquetry laid in the dining area, kitchen and as a ‘rug’ in the library.

It is the interior that really sets this home apart. The cathedral ceiling rises to 4.5m, giving the home a sense of uncluttered spaciousness. Steven had specified parquetry floors, which are rendered in Australian beech in the library, living and kitchen/dining areas. Meagan had admired an art-backed splashback at an open home, so Lee arranged for his sister-in-law, artist Alex Hotchin, to illustrate the journey Meagan and Steven took when they were married in Sicily; this was printed on glass and provides a stunning backdrop in the kitchen.

The aesthetic that Steffen bought to the home’s structure consolidated Steven’s love of mid-century modernism and over the course of the build he acquired prime examples from all the greats including Grant Featherston, Arne Jacobsen and Louis Poulsen.

‘I love having a garden to tinker with and the freedom the pets have.’

Now the house is finished, Meagan says she feels an inalienable sense of home. And Steven couldn’t be happier surrounded by his beloved design classics, although he’s a practical man at heart. “What do I love the most?” he says. “Mowing the lawn. It’s a handkerchief.”

Steffen Welsch Architects, Fitzroy North, Victoria; (03) 9988 9411 or www.steffenwelsch.com.au. Lee Gordon – Builder, Blackburn South, Victoria; 0402 123 107 or www.leegordonbuilder.com. Kate Seddon Landscape Design, Windsor, Victoria; 0403 254 368 or ksldesign.com.au.

CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION

Australian House & Garden
After an epic renovation, this magical Sydney home is a haven of comfort and joy, writes Vanessa Walker.

This is a much-used outdoor space for Phil and Ann-Maree Kerry, pictured with children Jack and Isabelle, cavoodle Oscar, and Toby, aloveable goldenretriever with a keen interest in shiny baubles. Photography by maree homer.

This is a much-used outdoor space for Phil and Ann-Maree Kerry, pictured with children Jack and Isabelle, cavoodle Oscar, and Toby, aloveable goldenretriever with a keen interest in shiny baubles. Photography by maree homer.

The chance to be close to family – rather than the house itself – drew Ann-Maree and Phil Kerry to this property in 2006. Despite its blue-ribbon location in a harbourside suburb in Sydney’s east, back then the five-bedroom home was an ugly duckling of the 1960s variety: a warren of small, dark, unconnected rooms that wilfully turned its back on its superlative setting. 

But there was one compelling drawcard. The house was on a battleaxe block that afforded great privacy and the adjacent home was occupied by Phil’s brother and his family, which meant children Jack, now 16, and Isabelle, 13, could grow up alongside their cousins. And, with plenty of room to extend, there would be space to accommodate Phil’s two older children when they came to stay. 

The deal was sealed, yet, even after settlement, Ann-Maree had some misgivings. “There were peach walls, peach curtains and olive-green carpet. It was as ugly as ugly could be,” she says. “I remember sitting on the stairs and thinking, ‘What have we done?’”

‘I love anything with a patina – the more aged and rustic, the better. I adore items with a history.’ 

But she and Phil drew themselves up and faced the challenge head on. “We decided to renovate in four stages, with a little breather between each,” says Ann-Maree. The epic transformation was overseen by architect Tanya Hancock of T01 Architecture+Interiors and, during the later stages, by interior designer Denai Kulcsar. Over the course of seven years, a dilapidated carport was demolished in order to expand the ground and upper floors, the rear of the house was extended and extra space was excavated for the lower-ground level. Throughout, a main priority for Ann-Maree and Phil was to rearrange the layout so that the kitchen and living areas, garden and pool were all on the same level, in order to establish a seamless indoor-outdoor flow. 

Deep comfort and laidback ease characterise this bright north-facing space, as well as the rest of the home.

Deep comfort and laidback ease characterise this bright north-facing space, as well as the rest of the home.

Today, in the finished home, practicality and luxury go hand in hand. The lower ground floor holds a self-contained studio (now Jack’s bolthole), a wine cellar and a media room with tiered seating for family movie nights. At ground level, a formal living space looks out to a sculptural treescape and the pool, while the TV room faces the courtyard with an outdoor fireplace. The top floor contains four generous bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. 

“We wanted a tranquil and comfortable home where everyone could relax, where everything flowed but everyone had their own spaces as well,” says Ann-Maree. “We’re only three kilometres from the city but it’s like an oasis. We’re in our own private world.” 

T01 Architecture & Interiors, Surry Hills, NSW;  (02) 9698 0411 or www.t01.com.au. Denai Kulcsar Interiors, Double Bay, NSW; (02) 9344 6993 or www.dkinteriors.com.au. 

THE OPEN PLAN

Australian House & Garden
A chef and furniture restorer have carved a big-hearted home out of a rustic barn in NSW’s Southern Highlands,  and now delight in sharing the fruits of their labour, writes Vanessa Walker

Homeowner and chef Brigid Kennedy prepares one of her sublime preserves in the custom-designed kitchen. Photography by Chris Warnes.

Homeowner and chef Brigid Kennedy prepares one of her sublime preserves in the custom-designed kitchen. Photography by Chris Warnes.

The first time Brigid Kennedy and Kevin Nott laid eyes on their future home it was a 41x12m barn. A barn with a concrete floor and double-brick walls, but a barn nevertheless. Set on 40ha of undulating land near Berrima, a historical village in the Southern Highlands of NSW, the barn was on the first package of land released by Boral when it divvyed up a 1214ha former quarry in 2011.

Both Brigid and Kevin come from rural families but had spent years carving out careers in Sydney: Brigid is a chef and author who owns an event space at Walsh Bay and Kevin is a landscaper by trade; a furniture restorer by preference. For this couple, buying the property was the first step in a return to full-time country life.

It took 18 months to convert the barn into a home, during which time they camped out in a partitioned-out corner of its cavernous shell. Kevin took on the role of owner-builder, living on-site full-time. Brigid, who lives in Sydney during the week, where her teenage son is at school, helped at the property on weekends.

I love the vintage-industrial aesthetic and the way it can look both elegant and “country”.

Despite having eight renovations under her belt, Brigid says this conversion was no picnic. “Kevin used to throw water over – at! – me for a shower and there was no toilet,” she says. From the outset they decided to add another storey to the barn, with a separate entrance and four bedrooms to be run as boutique farm-stay accommodation.

Exposed rafters are a reminder of the home’s origins – the timber chandeliers from OneWorld Collection bring a touch of glamour to the space.

Exposed rafters are a reminder of the home’s origins – the timber chandeliers from OneWorld Collection bring a touch of glamour to the space.

On the ground floor, in their two-bedroom home, Brigid has created an open-plan space that reflects the home’s origins and speaks to its bucolic surrounds. Room-wise, the kitchen was her focus. As a chef who specialises in slow-cooking, she had her heart set on an industrial kitchen with three ovens. One Emilia and two Bakbar models were duly installed, as was a vast island bench that can seat six.

When we have family and friends over we love to put food out in a rustic, help-yourself country style.

Design-wise, paint colours were her primary concern. “We took every green in existence and worked out which three had the most harmony,” says Brigid. This turned out to be Dulux Plantation Green, used in the guestroom, a now-discontinued colour called Blaxland for the trims and Porter’s Paints Chintz Grey in the living areas.

Today the homestead is surrounded by 2ha of companion-planted gardens. There are vegie beds as well as vegies dispersed among the trees; onions surround the brassicas to keep white cabbage butterflies away; chives, garlic and basil ward off aphids from the roses. Silver birch, poplars, magnolias and native frangipani are dotted throughout. Beyond this is an orchard planted in fig, quince, medlars, apricot, plum, peach, pear and apple trees. There is also pasture for the couple’s five horses and accommodation for a brood of ISA brown hens.

The newly christened Loch farm is a study in building a lifestyle around what you love. On a fine day, Kevin refurbishes antiques on the verandah, which he sells from the old stables. Brigid spends Saturdays harvesting produce for her delicious condiments and jams, which she sells at the Loch Sunday Stall, located on her front verandah. As Brigid says, slowly and steadily, their dream is coming to fruition.

www.theloch.net.au.