Turning onto the unsealed track that leads to her Mornington Peninsula beach house signals cherished downtime for interior designer Belinda and her family. Harry the mini maltese certainly included! “Harry sits up the minute the tyres hit the dirt – he knows we’re almost there,” says Belinda. “He gets so excited!”
The spell was cast the first moment she and husband Dan saw the secluded pocket of land guarded by a leafy awning of gum trees. Not even the fact that the postwar bungalow awaiting their inspection had seen better days could dampen her enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.
“When we bought the house in 2011, it was an old, salmon-brown fibro shack, but I saw so much potential in it,”says Belinda, director of Gallerie B Interiors.”It was in reasonable condition, but very basic. It had no insulation so it was drafty year-round and freezing in winter.
“There was orange-toned timber flooring, a brown exposed-brick fireplace and creamy-yellow walls – definitely not my colours! Over the years, we de-fibroed it and added insulation and timber cladding. We also slightly expanded it to make it more comfortable, without having to alter the footprint very much at all.”
“I love pendants over an island bench. They really define the space.” ~ Belinda
What Belinda did do, and to gorgeous effect, was bring the style of the home into a new era with a top-to-toe overhaul. The mum to Lucy, 16, and Mia, 13, was in her element as both designer-decorator and client.”There was definitely a freedom that came with that,”she says.” Although, of course, I still had to keep to a budget, as we all do!”
Describing her decorating style as “classic but with a contemporary and elegant edge”, Belinda has long been a fan of the Hamptons look. “This house has Hamptons-style features, such as shaker-profile doors to the cabinetry and a shiplap wall on the fireplace,” she says.
A sense of serenity permeates, its seaside setting lending inspiration for the key highlights of blue. Shades range from a duck-egg hue in the kitchen to navy in the family bathroom and bring harmony to the zones.
Happily, practicality and comfort also prevail. After all, this is her family’s holiday house. In the living room, a plush sofa layered with cushions and throws promotes a laid-back atmosphere, while each of the divinely decorated sleep zones feels instantly inviting.
“The sofa is light grey but has been Scotchgarded, so we don’t have to be particular with it,”says Belinda.”The benchtops in the kitchen and the bathrooms are reconstituted stone, which is so hard-wearing. We didn’t want this to be a precious house. I was conscious that when friends and family visit, they would feel cosy and comfortable.”
Important, too, was that the exterior, painted in a moody charcoal, connects to its lush surrounds. French doors link the living zone to the deck and native garden beyond, and an outdoor lounge and fire pit beckons in a corner of the yard.
“The foliage is a eucalyptus green, which contrasts against the dark exterior and the white trims,”says Belinda.”I wanted to create a real feeling of inside-outside living.”
She can’t imagine ever saying a permanent goodbye to her home away from home and simply says,”It’s pretty perfect for all of us.”
“It’s your home and, if you love colour, you need to surround yourself with it.”
“The fire pit gets a lot of use even in spring, when it can still be chilly at night.” ~ Belinda
When it comes to writing about all things homes-related, Jackie – a magazine features writer for over 25 years – is simply in her element. Few things bring her more joy than sitting down for a chat with homeowners to uncover their secrets to decorating magic. Other than spending time with her family and beloved golden retriever Bosley, of course!
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