After seeing the December issue of Home Beautiful magazine with her beautiful home on the cover, stylist and interior designer Sally Rhys Jones received a phone call from the woman who originally built the house — and who lived in the home for over 20 years.
She was so over the moon that someone had renovated it and shown it the love she felt it deserved. She recognised the verandah instantly!
In her inimitable style, Sally invited the woman and her family over for Christmas drinks and to check out the home in person – bringing together two generations of homeowners in a celebration of the life of the home.
With a new baby and a beautifully renovated home on Sydney’s northern Beaches, there’s not much left on the Christmas list for this young family.
Homeowners Sally and Ben – along with Great Dane Violet and now baby Hazel – are enthusiastic entertainers at any time of year, yet Christmas is a chance to really celebrate. Sally, an interior architect, describes her decorating at Christmas as “very casual, natural and coastal”, which ties in with her home’s beachside palette.
Guests invited into the couple's renovated ’60s weatherboard are greeted by a star garland from Honeybee Homewares that follows the neutral yet inviting scene at the home’s entry, created by a vintage map found in France.
“It needed to be big enough for the family to congregate, but also well though out, as the space is acutally quite small”Sally, Homeowner and Interior Architect
Bought two-and-a-half years ago after falling in love with the charming local village and beach, (“It’s like being on holidays all the time,” says Sally) the couple launched into the renovation to transform the adorable ’60s weatherboard cottage on Sydney’s northern beaches in just 10 weeks.
“It was liveable, but when we started the reno, we realised it was in a worse state than it appeared on the surface.” With some snappy decision-making by Sally, her experience and a crack team of super-efficient builders, they overcame unpredicted issues to open up the home’s poky kitchen, laundry and living rooms into one airy, open-plan space.
“It was tiny, but had character – the front verandah and palm trees sold it to us, really.”Sally
Often tasked with creating gorgeous kitchens for other people, interior architect Sally was thrilled to design one for herself and husband Ben, and she indulged in some of her favourite materials – V-groove cabinetry and Carrara marble – to create this classic coastal-style space. Timeless features are mixed with modern finishes, including sleek cabinetry. This hardworking space also hides a secret – a laundry is concealed behind bi-fold cabinets at the front of the island. “This meant the island needed to be extra wide, but that has made for a real showstopper bench that has tonnes of prep space,” says Sally.
When they’re not dining outdoors, the eight-seater dining table can host a modest crowd. Tying in with the home’s coastal theme, Sally added stronger hints of colour in the brilliant blue photographic print from Salty Wings and a moss-green vintage rug, sourced from 1800 Get A Rug in the US. Touches of black – as seen in the spotlight over the artwork and the hardware on the rescued and restored French doors – cleverly contrast with the muted coastal hues.
A bold spray of foliage – including pencil cactus and grevillea branches – is a stylish alternative to a traditional Christmas tree in the living room; just add a few strategically placed baubles and a stack of presents wrapped in beautiful papers from Vandoros for a thoroughly Australian Christmas vignette. Cooling breezes flow through the louvre windows over this cosy corner of the home, which is furnished in a slipcover sofa from Urban Couture and rattan chairs (try La Maison for similar), evoking a relaxed holiday-at-home feeling.
“My interior style is relaxed, simple and coastal– not too fussy or precious”Sally
When Sally and Ben first saw their home, they quickly fell in love with the front verandah, particularly the nook at the end, encased in greenery. “We call it the G&T corner!” says Sally. “When we moved in, it was dingy with no appeal, so I had the bench seat and screen built, and now everyone gathers here.” It acts as a fresh, casual drawcard come Christmas time.
“I think bedrooms should be really simple and calming, with as little clutter as possible,” says Sally of the main bedroom, which features curtains in dusty grey and a soft blue bedhead from Mayvn Interiors. An Aquabumps photographic print echoes the dreamy blue of the bedhead, while a bedspread from Saardé Home adds texture. For similar bedside lighting, take a look at the ‘Alpine’ lamp from Lavender Hill Interiors.
“I spend my life designing bathrooms, so I wanted to do something at least a little brave for my own,” says Sally, who chose a baby blue – Dulux Oriental Bay – for the bathroom vanity, a colour she loved so much, she had to repeat it for the front door of their property. Aside from this appealing splash of colour, Sally kept the palette very simple in the bathroom, with marble tiles across the floor and handmade subways from Tiles By Kate on the walls, a simple BT Merrica basin from Beaumont Tiles, and a white Nordlux wall lamp. “The space is seriously tiny, so I let the materials do the talking,” she explains.
“I’ve never been into cliched blues or pinks for kids’ rooms – I wanted it really neutral,” says Sally, who added just a few pink accessories to the nursery to please Ben, who was after a girly room for his baby daughter. Practical inclusions – custom cabinetry designed by Sally and made by Captive Cabinet Making and a Hobbe ‘London’ rocker – are dressed up with divine accessories, including a whale watercolour by Libby Watkins, beaded chandelier from Serendipity House & Co, and a side table custom-made as a gift from Sally’s stone supplier, Central Coast Granite.
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