By and large, the end of summer heralds three things: cooler weather, better behaved flies and permanently flung-open doors. And yet, there’s one house, nestled amidst Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where the summer lingers on—minus the flies. Gently, quietly, behind closed doors, manifesting in sunset tones and citrus accents. Make no mistake, when the homeowners—a young Sydney-based family—first acquired the holiday home a few years ago, it was anything but summer. “They had acquired the house with the hopes of spending more time there, balancing working from home and embarking on extended breaks over vacation periods, but the weathered features and clichéd seaside tropes, amongst other things, deterred their visits,” says Yasmine Ghoniem, founder and director of multidisciplinary collective YSG Studio, whom the couple tapped to overhaul the home.
The inspiration came from coastlines faraway. From the rendered structures of Côte d’Azur to the rustic beach clubs of Ibiza and Cancun, Yasmine borrowed a little from everywhere. “They wanted to create a palpably playful mood that introduced a perennial approach to entertaining and above all else invited soft landings, both indoors and out,” she explains. In a bid to bring the tropics in, she and her team hand-painted palm trees, birds and fish on the kids’ room walls, hung sombrero-hat-like raffia pendants over the dining table and dressed the cushions with tropical-fruit-inspired covers. They also added a red-and-white chequerboard leitmotif, first on the wall above the painting in the living room, then along the border of a raised step leading to the dining area (artistically calling out a tripping hazard), to dial up the cheer.
The interior brims with tones and textures reminiscent of the shoreline: in the dining room, burnt orange ceilings channel a molten sky, while hand-painted swirls and rose-tinted marble floors soften the sun room. The decor is eclectic, and everything from everywhere—including clay urns, scatter cushions made of kimono silk, oriental plates, Matisse-like nude paintings, zebra-striped throw pillows and objects inspired by rodeo cowboys—finds equal pride of place. “We replaced all the windows and doors to lighten their mass, sanding back the worn floorboards to reveal warmer timber accents,” reveals Yasmine, who also gutted all the bathrooms and the kitchen, to introduce new joinery and a stone island bench that recalls the ombré shades of a freshly poured tequila sunrise.
“Flipping customary convention, we transformed one of the two guest rooms into an additional master suite, furnishing ‘his’ and ‘hers’ spaces with complementary ensuites. This rearrangement enables them to work simultaneously from their rooms whilst enjoying views from the upper level,” adds the designer.
For a home that melds into the outdoors, it was important for Yasmine to cast her attention on both sides of the threshold, equally. The exterior needed some lightening up, so she removed the heavy paving and grey timber surrounding the pool, replacing it with tumbled marble cobblestone instead. She also revitalised some existing elements, including the fence’s reflective chrome posts, which she powder-coated to eliminate glaring reflections.
Depending on the day, and your angle, the home might channel a resort in the French Riviera or a hip beach club in Ibiza or Cancun. On evenings when the breeze is plenty and the sun is low, the family likes to gather outside by the BBQ, with the birds and the sea view for company. Luckily, they don’t have to choose. They can live vicariously here or there, or anywhere in between, while also feeling right at home.