Fundamentally, the Australian beach house is where we go to escape, unwind and enjoy the beauty of our natural coastal surrounds. It’s these principles that have been captured down to a T in the Portsea Family Beach House, designed to emanate the light and unfussy qualities of a 70s home that stood before.

Kate Beadle Interior Design and Nick Condon found the perfect spot for their family beach haven in Portsea, where a classic old Peninsula shack once stood. The small shack was built-in the 1970s out of Besser Blocks with a flat roof and low ceilings. There were aspects they really liked about the small house; the layout, ample use of timber, orientation to the north for sunlight and its overall casualness. So much so, Kate and Nick used the house as the springboard to design a new, modern reinterpretation with a whole lot more space. Learning lessons from the past made way for a tasteful beach house to relax, entertain and relish in the spirit of summer by the sea.

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What has replaced the old is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom counterpart with multiple living areas. Top priority was designing a home that felt in tune with its seaside locale, that had the sense of light, casualness and flow we all look for in family living. To achieve this Nick recalls, “ it was important to consider the landscaping of the property during the design process, to ensure a seamless connection to the outdoor spaces and location, down an unmade coastal road”. But this was no easy site to build on. Nick and Kate had to find a way to work within the existing levels of the sloped site to still achieve usable outdoor spaces for entertaining, as well as a large swimming pool. The solution? To use retaining walls to create individual spaces within the area. “The topography of the site therefore became a feature of the garden, rather than a hinderance to its success as a living space,” Nick describes.

Moving indoors, the interior is marked by sophisticated, polished lines and softened by natural and casual finishes such as bagged bricks and timber flooring. This juxtaposition gives a refined impression but also lets everyone feel as though they can really live and be comfortable in the space. We’re quite partial to the earthy decor that warms the home that doesn’t slip into the shell or sail boat zone. The tribe details on the shelf, the textural art (special shout out to Graham Fransella), the peculiar hand that cups the bath tub and of course, the Vincent van Duysen monologue on the coffee table all combine for a some serious coastal cool.

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“The result is a home that feels timeless and intimate, completely at ease with its natural surrounds.”

– Former owner Nick Condon

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When asked what their favourite aspect of the interiors was, it wasn’t a space, object or finish. Rather, Nick said it was the striking natural light that bathes the home from all angles and most spectacularly in the kitchen. “The movement of natural light throughout the house is the most striking – whether that be through the large glass panes that look out to the coastal garden or simply through the many skylights and highlight windows used.” The oversized glazing, combined with high ceilings gives every space an etherial quality and a definitive spaciousness.

It doesn’t always take breakthrough ideas to design your ideal home. Sometimes, it’s about finding your ultimate by tempering what once existed. That’s the case for this authentic but not showy Portsea Family Beach House and exactly how Kate and Nick created their own family beach retreat. 

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