Boho beauty in Coogee

Kylie Hinds and her husband bought their seaside home in Coogee, Sydney's eastern suburbs and what stood on the land is quite different to what it is today. Their home started out as a one-bedroom 1920s cottage that had formerly been gutted and redone in 1970s style, leaving verry little of the original detailing and features. When Kylie and her husband had decided to renovate, their project quickly became nearly a full rebuild.

holiday home in coogee
ARTICLE: Clare Chapman

Situated at the bottom of a significantly-sized sand dune that reaches across into the neighbouring suburb, the original home had issues with dampness due to water pooling. The sloping gradient of the narrow site also meant little could done in the way of extensions without building up. However, for Kylie, who loves older homes, creating a contemporary dwelling wasn’t something that she felt entirely comfortable with. “To fit in with the streetscape where everyone has done very contemporary renovations, we decided to develop a more modern frontage but at the back we chose timber cladding to retain the style of the original cottage,” she says.

After living in the original house for eight years before the renovation began, Kylie and her husband knew exactly what they wanted to achieve from the outset: they wanted to make better use of the space, provide ample rooms for their growing family of five as well as a space for her husband to work from home, with a private outdoor area. “About a year before the building got underway I had put rough drawings together of what we wanted to do and it was at this point we took these to an architect who was able to refine and improve them,” Kylie says.

Construction took more than a year to complete, with the complex nature of the site requiring extensive piling and structural work to create what became a four-storey home with internal garaging from the street on the ground level. The main entry level is one storey above, an area that also comprises of a study, media room with fireplace and bathroom. Upstairs, the main living area, kitchen and dining are on the third floor, with the four bedrooms on the top level.

“We really had to work with the land to create something that was going to make the best use of the available space and that meant creating these different levels on the steep gradient.”
Material choices were the result of a finely balanced set of parameters allowing for both aesthetics and functionality, architect Michael Hilliard says. “Originally, we conceived the building as an asymmetrical off-form concrete structure from a rough sandstone base with lightweight steel-framed screens,” he says. “The sandstone was of course a reference to the cliffs along the coast. The idea was to create a visual juxtaposition with the rough stone and smooth concrete/light-weight steel of the main body of the house so the building took on a certain lightness.”

Timber joinery was used throughout due to Kylie’s preference for character homes, along with brick and concrete on the street facing exterior. Inside, the palette is neutral with polished timber floors and stark white walls – something Kylie has utilized to create a unique contrast between old and new.

Inside, the palette is neutral with polished timber floors and stark white walls – something Kylie has utilized to create a unique contrast between old and new.
“My style is definitely boho, but I also love the coastal feel and the character of original pieces.” What that’s meant in this renovation is the inclusion of original Indian wooden doors in the interior – the home was built with a lift-well as a future proofing mechanism, but for now what sits inside it is a fireman’s pole the children use to move between levels. An Indian door works as a unique feature of the entrance level covering the lift shaft.

Turkish rugs provide splashes of colour throughout as well as rattan pieces and extensive greenery. A large skylight over the stairwell allows light to fall gracefully into each level of the home, while extensive glazing ensures the ocean and garden views are maximised from each room. Each bedroom opens onto a balcony, as does the main living area. But it is the balcony off the master suite that creates the most interesting dynamic with a freestanding open-air bathtub overlooking the ocean and shrouded by tropical plants.

One of the most important aspects of this multi-levelled renovation is the garden, which wraps around the house and up behind it almost creating a fifth level. “You can see the garden from almost everywhere in the house, which breaks up the white of the interior nicely. This is something that was really important in the design.”

It’s a renovation that has created an impeccably contemporary coastal home with effortlessly sleek spaces, each inviting their occupants to enjoy the surrounds – the sea breeze, the ocean views, and the garden. The landscaping has allowed for the external area to become not only a focal point from most parts of the home, but also one that is used as an extension of the interior with a thatched cabana surrounded by tropical greenery – a private inner city retreat akin to each of the luxuriously calm internal spaces.
The introduction to a home is always important, but no one does it quite as bold as those in the valley. Think long expansive perfectly groomed driveways, lined with palm trees, cacti or desert grasses, guiding guests to a thoughtful (often symmetric) front door area. Curb appeal is a big factor here, a consistent theme is elegant but dramatic doorways with geometric elements, breezeblocks, rock gardens and feature walls. With the natural surrounding terrain being stark and harsh (and often exterior walls of a neutral material palette) pops of colour can be used to bring life to a space. Front doors are often painted in bright pinks, yellows and blues – this can be a fun way to have your home standout on the street, and if you’re lucky, your neighbours will be as accepting of modernism as the folks in Palm Springs.

You might be interested in reading Palm Springs Architecture

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*this is an inspirational home feature from Renovate Magazine Issue 26. Refresh Renovations did not complete this project.
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