Not everyone dreams of finding a forever home. For many renovators who have caught the fixer-upper bug, the lure of revamping a property is irresistible. This was true for interior designer Janette Stritt and her husband Alex, a building designer and builder, who found a large block nestled in Sydney’s Northern Beaches that was pleading for a new life.
The old house had seen better days and the garden was completely overgrown – a far cry from the sanctuary the couple dreamt of for themselves and their teenagers, Sebastian and Allegra. However, the coastal locale and mature palm trees on the sprawling 1330-square-metre site clinched the deal, and soon after seeing the property the couple picked up the keys.
“We were immediately drawn to the magnificent existing palms on the site, which in turn had a direct influence on the style and layout of the home’s design.”Janette
What followed was a three-month design phase and a 12-month knockdown rebuild – an undertaking the couple have tackled countless times over the course of their careers and marriage. “We have built and sold many times since our very first home we built together in our early twenties,” says Janette. “With every home we design and build, we get a feel for what we really enjoy in our homes and what works for us.”
Who lives here?
Alex Stritt, a building designer and builder; his wife Janette, an interior designer, their teenagers, Sebastian and Allegra, and Daisy the Cavoodle.
Where did you splurge? Janette: “The home includes bespoke trims and customised finishes inside and outside to make it unique.”
Favourite pearl of wisdom? “Aspect is a major consideration in design, as is layout and functionality of spaces. An open-plan kitchen/living/dining area with an easy transition to the outdoors is key for everyday living.”
Is this your forever home? “There will no doubt be another design and new build on the cards for us in the future… We can’t wait for the next one.”
For Alex, a sunny aspect and high ceilings were essential. “They add scale, light and airiness to a space and are perfectly suited to coastal homes. An open fireplace is also a must-have for me, not only for their warmth but for the character they bring to a home,” he says.
Janette craved ample storage space, plus a butler’s pantry and generous walk-in robe. “I needed plenty of storage throughout the home, whether it be kitchen cupboards, laundry cabinets or the mudroom – anywhere we can keep items stored away and the house tidy,” she explains. “I love to keep the home neat and in order, which is not always achievable with teenagers, but suitable storage solutions help!”
“We used wide V-groove and large board and batten panels, in keeping with the large scale of the home and referencing its coastal resort aesthetic.”Janette
This cued a design brief that extended from the front gate to the rear boundary, with Janette taking the interiors under her wing and Alex designing and building the home, cabana and pool. The couple drew on some of their favourite features to blur the boundary between indoors and out: custom glazing, transom windows, French doors and oversized sliding doors that wrap the exterior. “Not only do they add to a home’s aesthetics, they are also fundamental in allowing maximum light to enter a space,” says Janette.
The kitchen is the beating heart of the home, and a classic colour scheme of blue, green, white and wicker welcomes the suburb’s headland greens and sea blues inside. The result is quintessential Hamptons style, which courses through every corner of the 570-square metre abode.
“High ceilings have always been very important to me in the homes I design for our clients as well as for ourselves.”Alex
In the kitchen, soaring 3.6-metre coffered ceilings are crowned with a skylight that bathes the kitchen in sunlight. The bright backdrop of Dulux Lexicon Quarter on the walls, joinery and trims coordinates with the splashback of white handmade subway tiles from Di Lorenzo Tiles. Behind the rear wall, a butler’s pantry – one of Janette’s must-haves – peeps into the kitchen.
Living and dining
“Where possible, we like to salvage local sandstone blocks from old homes being demolished and reuse them for our fireplace surrounds and garden walls. Not only is this a more sustainable approach, it also adds character and a touch of local history to a new home,” says Janette of the stunning stone that hugs the Jetmaster fireplace. She bathed the walls and trims in Dulux Lexicon Quarter, which complements the crisp Coco Republic sofas.
We love… the outdoor connection
“Custom decorative windows, transoms, French doors and large-scale timber sliding doors are some of our favourite key components we like to include in our designs,” says Janette. The couple drew on these architectural elements in their open-plan living room to let in lashings of light and frame verdant garden views.
“Living by the beach, we are fortunate to be surrounded by the blues of the sea and greens from the coastal shrubs and grasses,” says Janette, who drew this palette into the bedrooms. Flanked with bedside tables from Xavier Furniture, the custom Casa Locale bedhead is plumped with cushions from The Boathouse Home, and Sheridan bedlinen. Janette designed the bespoke lampshades.
“Wallpaper was always intended for this space and I wanted to choose a pattern that was fun, while resonating with the rest of the home,” says Janette of the powder room papered in Bethany Linz ‘Bamboo’ in Green from Milton & King.
In the laundry a fireclay butler’s sink from Turner Hastings, with walls and trims in Dulux Lexicon Quarter, offsets joinery in Porter’s Paints Newport Blue Half.
Pool and pool house
The transformation of the landscaping was just as radical as the house. “Our vision for the garden was for it to be relaxed with a resort feel, lush and green with a large lawn, hedges and palms growing out from the lawn,” says Janette.
Di Lorenzo Tiles in LA Ice surrounding the pool tone perfectly with the weatherboards painted in Dulux Snowy Mountains Quarter, with Dulux Lexicon Quarter trims. The couple layered the hedging with buxus, viburnum and syzygium resilience, and tufts of mondo grass punctuate the limestone pavers.
The family moved in just in time to enjoy the summer holidays. “It is one of the longest periods we have lived in one of our homes,” says Janette. “We are very grateful to call this house our home; it feels calm and relaxed, while being comforting and uplifting.
Design and building: Stritt Design and Construction, 0416 194 568, stritt.com.au.SOURCE BOOK
Joinery: The Kitchen Maker, (02) 9905 5028, thekitchenmaker.com.au.
Landscaping: Shane Carroll, Scapes and Stone, [email protected].