Morning, afternoon or evening, bike riders expertly balance surfboards as they scoot past this family home located a stone’s throw from the waves on Sydney’s northern beaches. And on any given day in summer, you can bet that Lou and Kev’s house will be filled with the friends of their three teenagers, Archie, 19, Olive, 16, and Millie, 15.
“It actually is a quiet house, with privacy from the busy street,” says Lou. “But when the kids have friends over, they turn up in packs of 10 and make it a fun, loud house. There’s sand and towels everywhere!”
The family’s four-bedroom new build is the result of a project that serial renovators Lou and Kev had worked towards for years. “We’d always wanted to build from scratch, and Kev always wanted to live in the centre of a village or hub,” explains Lou.
While living in a neighbouring suburb, they spotted the vacant corner block on the market and quickly snapped it up. The couple then consulted interior designer Emma Macindoe after admiring a local home she had designed.
“I met Emma for coffee and it instantly felt like a natural, easy relationship,” says Lou, describing Emma as “an interior designer with an architectural builder’s mind”. With her and a team from Planbuilt builders onboard, Lou and Kev were set to go.
The design inspiration was free-flowing between themselves and the designer. “An awful lot of Pinterest was involved!” says Lou with a laugh, adding that the references covered everything from rustic Spanish courtyards and traditional English kitchens to Hamptons-style refinement.
“It all started out as Seventies beach-house style, and then Kev became a lot more interested in things that were a little more Hamptons-esque, like with wainscotting and the panelled doors,” says Lou.
However, as a child of the Seventies, she stuck firm to her dream of a sun-drenched sunken living room. “The house I grew up in didn’t have one and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since,” she says.
Lou’s no-limits approach to decorating can be traced back to her English upbringing with a painter/decorator father. “As a child, I was constantly in the wallpaper shop,” she says, explaining that it was the English way to change your wallpaper ahead of hosting guests.
“If it was your turn to have Christmas, you would get new wallpaper and redo the walls,” she says. Lou, along with Kev, who was also born in the UK, maintains homes shouldn’t be static.
“In a serious home, it would look weird if something was moved out of place, and I never wanted that,” she says. “I always wanted a relaxed home.”
With its playful palette, natural textures and fresh ocean air flowing through the open spaces, this home has fulfilled its brief.
“There’s a beach-house feel,” says designer Emma, “but the character and essence of Lou and Kev is evident in the materials, finishes and colours.”
“I kept saying, ‘I want it to be whimsical, I don’t want it to be too serious.’ The word ‘whimsical’ was bandied around quite a bit!” ~ Lou
“When it comes to interior style, I love anything that punches a little bit!” ~ Lou
When Jessica isn’t styling shoots for magazines or foraging in op shops, she is tucked up in her 1970s home surrounded by a national park, writing about interiors, gardens and people for popular print and digital titles. Her book “Individual: Inspiration for creating a home that is uniquely your own” was released internationally in 2019.
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