Homeowners Danica and Mark took their time getting to know their home on Sydney’s beautiful northern beaches before embarking on a renovation, living in the abode for nearly a decade with their three sons, Angus, Toby, and Ed before going ahead. Yet the couple knew exactly what style their transformed home would take.
“I always had my heart set on a home with a nod to Palm Springs style,” explains Danica, enjoying the home’s many sunny spots. With its distinctively modernist facade, liberal use of crazy paving-style stone, beautiful breezeway blocks and a treasure trove of restored mid-century pieces inside, the home pays loving homage to the iconic design era.
They met and fell in love at flying college almost 25 years ago, and have since transported travellers to all corners of the globe, but to commercial pilots Danica and Mark, the thrill of landing a plane in their hometown of Sydney is a joy that never wanes.
For this is the city in which the parents of three have created a sunny sanctuary for their growing family – a stylish yet relaxed haven that provides an idyllic base from which to revel in the beachy outdoors.
“It’s always been amazing to fly in past the Harbour Bridge and Opera House and know you’re home,” says Mark. Adds Danica: “And we feel especially fortunate to be here, now that we’re grounded by the pandemic.”
With its crazy paving-style stone fence and dazzling white rendered facade, the abode Danica and Mark share with their three sons Angus, 14, Toby, 12, and Ed, 10, could be perfectly at home in California’s modernism mecca, Palm Springs.
Yet, nestled in a quiet enclave in Sydney’s picturesque northern beaches region, this is a home that truly celebrates the laidback Australian coastal lifestyle.
It’s little wonder the couple were instantly enamoured with the neighbourhood and the home’s close proximity to the beach – which is, “as the crow flies, about 200 metres”, says Mark – when they first inspected the property 13 years ago.
Yet the house appeared vastly different to the light-filled delight it is today. “It was a rather dark and nondescript 1940s home,” says Mark. Danica, meanwhile, recalls being immediately won over. “Angus was six months old, and I was pregnant with Toby, so I was ready to take anything!” she exclaims.
Three years ago, the couple decided to undertake a major renovation. “The main motivation was that the internal living area was small and dysfunctional,” says Mark. “The house also only had two bedrooms, with the boys bunking in together.”
The couple decided to extend out the back and up, with the upper level featuring four bedrooms and two bathrooms, and the ground level making room for a new kitchen, dining and lounge area.” And I really wanted to go with a mid-century aesthetic,” says Danica. “Having visited Palm Springs in 2013, I fell head over heels with the modernist era.
“A happy surprise was the outlook from our bedroom that we gained during the reno. We didn’t realise how lovely it would be.” ~ Danica
I love the structural and practical simplicity of mid-century homes – the large windows, interesting shapes and lovely indoor-outdoor feel.” To bring their vision to life, Danica and Mark turned to their longtime friend Anna Williams, who runs Your Beautiful Home in Sydney.
“Danica and Mark wanted to work with the footprint of the old house as much as possible to keep costs reasonable – and were also conscious not to create a home that would be overbearing or dominant on the block,” says Anna, whose worked with the couple from initial planning all the way through to final decor finishes.
“They were a joy to work with and we’re beyond thrilled with the end result.” As are Danica and Mark. With a base palette of crisp white, earthy timber and organic stone, this is now an inviting home awash with a palpable sense of space, texture and sunlight – just perfect for sharing with others.
“We have always wanted the house to feel warm and welcoming, and to fill it with family and friends,” says Danica. “We do pinch ourselves that this is where we live.”
“A lot of the older pieces of furniture were built to last – it wasn’t a throwaway culture. It’s nice they still stand the test of time.” ~ Danica