There’s a no-shoe policy at Nina and David’s holiday home. Shoes, mostly flip-flops, are left by the front door alongside an ever-growing pile of sand tracked back from daily trips to the beach. Enveloped by trees with a sweeping outlook across Whale Beach, their home nestled on a hillside in Sydney’s Northern Beaches is a true retreat for the Singapore-based expat couple and their two daughters, India, 16, and Poppy, 12. “As soon as we arrive we feel a sense of calm,” says Nina.
WHO LIVES HERE? Nina, an interior stylist and owner of Bungalow 55, her husband David, an investment banker, and their daughters India, 16, Poppy, 12, and David’s adult Australia-based kids, Georgia and Monty.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT IT? Nina: “Being by the ocean, here you forget about the stresses of work and city life.”
DESIGN PHILOSOPHY? “A home should reflect the people who live there and their interests.”
WEEKEND RITUAL? “We start the day with a two-hour walk and spend the morning at the beach. Then it’s a sausage sizzle or steak sandwich accompanied by a glass of rosé at the Whale Beach Surf Club. Simply heaven.”
For more than a decade the family have been returning to the picturesque coastal strip, since making a spontaneous decision to snap up the beach house. “We weren’t particularly looking to buy, but were back here visiting family and I went along to an open home just for a look” she recalls. “The location was amazing, it was incredibly private and it just ticked all the boxes.” The couple also realised it was the perfect place to lay down roots in Australia and create wonderful family memories. “We tend to think of it like we live in dual places – Singapore and Australia – and enjoy the best of both,” adds Nina.
As an interior stylist and founder of Bungalow 55, a beautiful homewares store in Singapore, Nina is known for her timeless, elegant interiors and over the years has transformed the house with a series of improvements. Initially it was repainted white throughout including the original pine floorboards. Several years later an outdoor barbecue area was added to make the most of David’s love of alfresco cooking, and in 2017 work began on a major whole-house renovation.
DESIGNER TIP: Feature lighting
One of Nina’s favourite decorating elements is sourcing beautiful lighting. “I love the atmosphere layered lighting has,” she enthuses. “In the kitchen a pendant from Les Interieurs imbues texture, while a pair of custom pendants by Charlie Hinkfuss of MCM House adds a touch of formality above the dining table.
“The house has really grown with us, with staged renovations designed to meet our changing needs as the kids have gone from toddlers to teenagers,” explains Nina. In addition to updating the kitchen and bathrooms, the most significant change was extending the front of the house and replacing the meagre front deck with a generous outdoor living area.
The space below the new deck was built in to create another living zone and bedroom, which functions as breakout areas for teens and adults, and the sloping block was also levelled for a new pool. “We’ve turned the shack into a place where we can entertain and accommodate more people, while still retaining a quintessential beach house feel, where it feels we’ve stepped away from our day-to-day lives,” says Nina.
“I love to entertain but essentially home is a place where I spend quality time with my family,” says Nina.
Originally a lock-up garage, the space below the house now offers diverse functionality with a casual dining/bar area and adjoining bunk room created with visitors, including David’s adult children, in mind. “The older children use this space when they stay and we love using it at cocktail hour to whip up a drink, while we play cards,” says Nina. Keeping the look consistent between levels, the same kitchen joinery style was used, yet paired with large mirrors to reflect the view. Below a Restoration Hardware pendant, an MCM marble-topped table and custom bamboo deckchairs exude casual luxe, as does a feature chair from Les Interieurs and oversized photography prints from My Island Home (unknown artist).
The main bedroom enjoys great views and ocean breezes. The bedlinen is from The White Company, while ottomans from Stuart Membery Home Collection are perfect for plonking hats or clothes on.
“Being here is such a lovely contrast to our city lives. It re-energises us” ~ Nina
INTERIOR STYLING: Nina Beale, Bungalow 55, thebungalow55.com.