When is a beach home not a beach home?

Well, arguably, when it’s a shimmering monument to the ultimate in sleek  modern minimalism.

Of course, a property like this may will be a beach home in every literal sense if it is in fact a home and it’s located by the beach.

It’s interesting, that the phrase ‘beach home’ generally conjures up in our mind’s eye, everything from shabby beach-chic to Hamptons style classicism, but the trend in pristine, modernist structures has probably now overtaken the quintessential beach home style.

So how do you go about creating your minimalist haven by the sea?

The first challenge is wear and tear, from the less than forgiving coastal elements. We expect to see some worn decking and even a little distressed weatherboard paint on a classic beach house – or at least we accept it as part of the beach-life charm. Sand in the home can be tolerated, surfboards adorning the veranda is all part of the picture.

But none of this sits well in a high-gloss environment, brimming with expensive finishes.

Your builder will be able to advise you of new developments in exterior building materials that are built to withstand the harsh elements of our coastline, while maintaining desired aesthetics.

contemporary home style Sydney Beach Homes

Bringing the outside in, while keeping it out.

There’s a conundrum! When building a beach home like this, we need to pay particular attention to doors and windows, seeking out specialist materials and highly effective seals and closures.

A trademark feature of the contemporary home, especially when you have expansive ocean views is the acres of glass frontage that reveal the coastline in all its incredible beauty and bring it directly into your home.

For these situations, self-cleaning glass is a must, combined with smart glass systems, which allow you to control the amount of heat and light that comes into your home throughout the day. Read more about this in our blog on green technologies.

If you’re living by the ocean you won’t want to keep your home hermetically sealed to avoid sand getting into your living spaces, so work with your builder and architect to take prevailing winds into account when planning your major openings and external space.

Contemporary homes also tend to feature sleek, and often shiny, premium finishes, like polished marble, metals and gloss carpentry  – none of which respond well to the abrasive effect of sand and salt in the air. Happily there are many new and exciting finished to consider that look every bit as impressive, but will maintain their looks for much longer. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate any polished finishes altogether, but use them strategically, knowing they will need more care and attention to keep looking pristine.


You can never have enough storage

Never underestimate the amount of storage a contemporary home requires to maintain a minimalist image. Your builder and designer can help you plan heaps of concealed storage into every room to keep the clutter at bay and create that feeling of serenity a clean and clear environment brings.

If your contemporary home is by the beach, you will need to increase that storage requirement considerably and pay particular attention to the position of your storage.

External storage by every entrance is a must to encourage everyone to shed sandy shoes, towels and all manner of beach paraphanaila before they enter the house. Wet rooms at the entrances, or outdoor shower rooms are also great for making sure that only people free of salt and sand enter the house. In winter, these storage areas double up nicely as boot rooms / cloakrooms.

contemporary interior style Sydney Beach Homes


Whether your beach home is classic or contemporary in styling, the same basic décor principles apply.

Using a single colour palette throughout the home will make it feel bigger, more open and expansive, and allows rooms and spaces to flow naturally into one another. That doesn’t mean every room will look the same. If you create a palette of 6 to 8 shades, you can turn the dials up and down on different shades to suit the purpose of each room without compromising the flow of your colour scheme.

You can also bring in additional highlights of colour seasonally, with accessories to freshen your look from time to time.

Clever use of texture is also a great way of adding dimension to your home and there are some amazing three-dimensional finishes available now in tiling, wallpaper and decorative panelling.

Taking inspiration for your colours from the environment around your home works brilliantly for beach homes and really helps create synergy between your property and its location. Take photographs of your surroundings at different times of the day and use colour charts to create your palette by matching to the tones of your photos. For softer palettes use shots taken in the early morning or evening, go for mid morning for something more dazzling, or use the landscape in winter for a more muted scheme. If darker, more moody palettes are your thing, sunset shots will help you produce some amazing colour combinations.

Light and bright generally works brilliantly in beach homes, but it’s always to good to have some darker tones in there too, to use sparingly throughout, or more boldly in areas where you want to create a cosy, more intimate feel.



Your outdoor spaces and landscaping should reflect the minimalist feeling of your interior.  Gardens will need to maintain a manicured look, so be careful with planting and seek advice from your landscape gardener. An unruly mass of tumbling and abundant blooms may look amazing in a cottage garden, but will look incongruous with the sleek modernity of your building.

Again, explore available materials with your builder and landscape gardener, to create a scheme that is both beautiful and manageable.

So in conclusion, can a contemporary home ever be a true beach home? Absolutely!

Talk to us about your vision for your modern masterpiece. 



So great to get some more amazing photos of our work on this Woolahra project from our friends at Lime Photography.

This incredibly spacious apartment needed a full refurbishment, including significant remedial work, requiring some major demolition of internal walls and installation of structural steel to create airy, open-plan spaces.

At a generous 900 square metres, this spectacular apartment is the size of a large house, with three living spaces, dining room, kitchen and kitchenette, laundry, 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, and a double garage. It’s all very impressive, but the star of the show in this property has to be its vast roof-top entertaining deck with stunning panoramic views over Woolahra and Double Bay.

Woolahra renovation by custom builders, Sydney Beach Homes


Working on an apartment of this scale is always going to impact upon neighbours, especially those immediately below. We always aim to minimise noise and work with neighbours like this as much as possible to avoid too much inconvenience for them. In fact, in this case, we were invited to carry out some building work to the apartment below as well. Of course we’d like to think that was entirely down to our charm and careful management of the situation, though we’re guessing they were also of the mind “If you can’t beat them, join them!”

Access to the site was also problematic, being located on a very busy Woolahra street with limited parking available. And we had the challenge of getting all materials required up onto the rooftop area. For this we used a Telehandler, shifting payloads of a ton at a time to and from the rooftop, while employing some strict traffic control on the street.

Another challenge was that both our client and the designer, Nic Graham of Nic Graham & Associates, were located overseas, so all project management details and communications needed to be relayed via email.


The specification for this stunning apartment were exceptional, requiring careful restoration and repair of existing parquetry flooring, beautiful bespoke bathrooms – all six of them, custom cabinetry throughout, and extensive rooftop landscaping.

We also installed a pretty snazzy hi-tech micro-processor controlled lighting and energy management system called C-Bus. This facilitates the configuration of zones in the home for automated lighting, adjusting intensity according to natural light levels.

Marble was used extensively in all the bathrooms, with polyurethane joinery, antique mirror glass and custom vanities.

Other highlights were the Blackbutt flooring, with underfloor heating, stained almost black with ‘Black Japan’ woodstain’ – and some exquisite hand-made lighting fixtures from Beeswax USA.

We are delighted to have been involved in this beautiful Woolahra project and equally delighted to receive these photos to share with you.

What a stunner!

Woolahra renovation interior by custom builders, Sydney Beach Homes


The humble Granny Flat has been reinvented as the ultimate garden studio and has blossomed to become one of the most popular additions to the family home.

The ever-rising property market has certainly stimulated an increase in renovations and additions in recent years as the affordability of moving and upsizing has been under considerable pressure. At the same time, families have gradually had to change their lifestyles to accommodate more family members for longer. Young adults simply cannot get a foot on the property ladder and are opting to remain in the nest longer as they strive to save for a deposit. To give their mature offspring a little more privacy and independence, families with some space in their yards have opted to create garden studios.

Studios are fully self-contained dwellings – often of stunning contemporary design and high quality finish, adding significant value to the overall property. There are some restrictions involved, governing the building of garden studios. Rules vary slightly by state, but as a guide, your block should be a minimum of 450sq m and the studio itself must be limited to a floor area of 50sq m.

A beautiful garden studio has so many potential uses. As well as a haven for grown children, the studio can also be used for its historical role as home to elderly relatives, a home office or workshop, fitness studio, music room, a guest suite, or as an additional revenue stream, renting either to long-term tenants or as an occasional let through Airbnb or similar.

Whether you plan to build your studio as a single or double level stand-alone unit, an adjoining addition to the main house, or an apartment above a garage, it’s important to maintain a separate entrance – especially if you are planning to let the property. Also make sure that your design protects the privacy of both dwellers – in the main residence and the new studio. You don’t want to feel closed in and overlooked.

The trick is to make sure your new studio is in-keeping with the main home, presents a high quality addition, is easily accessible and doesn’t impact too much on the outdoor space.


So let’s talk about value.

What is the likely return on your investment?

Firstly, it’s a good idea to do your homework on property prices in your area – especially noting those with studios compared to those without, to make sure you don’t over capitalise.

You must make sure your building is fully compliant and that you keep all of your paperwork safe for when you decide to sell.

Property valuers estimate that a quality garden studio can add a premium of more than 20% to your sale price.

That said, if your home is in need of modernising itself, the studio will have less of an impact on the overall value. The rule of thumb here is to spend the money first on your main home before investing in outbuildings.


Principal Broker of Zippy Financial Group, Louisa Sanghera endorses the notion of adding values and tells us, “Home owners can achieve a return on investment of around 20%, and change a negatively geared investment into a positively geared investment, helping to pay their mortgage off faster – and facilitate the purchase of further investment properties”.

Louisa advises “There are two common ways to finance a new garden studio – the first is to use equity available in the current property upon which the studio will be constructed – and the second is to utilise a construction loan. Getting a Valuation Report is a good place to start, which takes both current market values and a likely bank valuation into account.”

Arial shot of Freshwater garden studio by Sydney Beach Homes

Assuming your home is up to scratch, your studio will not only attract a higher sale price but will likely have a positive effect on how quickly your property sells.

Should you decide to rent your space it could net you between $200 and $600 per week, depending on location and the quality of the building – which also makes a great selling point when marketing your home. The potential of rental income could be the difference between a buyer being able to afford your property or not.


Craig Blake, Real Estate professional of over 25 years, currently with Parnell Partners in Frenchs Forrest reports, “Depending on the size and specification of the studio, home-owners could expect to attract rental incomes of up to $875 per week”.

Craig also advises that “Some older home-owners, looking to downsize have opted to build a garden studio, which they have then moved into, renting out their main home”. Which is another innovative solution we hadn’t considered.


All things considered, it looks like Granny Flats (sorry, Garden Studios) are the way to go, if you have a little space to spare on your block.


And finally, here’s one we made earlier…

We created this new build, 2 level studio apartment, designed by Molina Architects, as a separate dwelling to the existing home on a large block, demolishing an old garage to create the space. In this case, the studio was built to accommodate the family’s older son, but was designed to attract maximum interest as a source of rental income for the family in the future.

Talk to your local planners for more information, or talk to us at Sydney Beach Homes and we’ll be more than happy to explore some options with you.

Garden studio in Freshwater by Sydney Beach Homes

Our thanks to contributors:

Louisa Sanghera, Zippy Financial Group

Craig Blake, Parnell & Partners


In our business, you don’t always get great photos of your renovation or building work. Although we might engage a photographer on completion of a project, it’s often some time before the owners complete their furnishing and add those finishing touches that really turn their stylish new-build into a beautiful home.

Imagine our delight when we received these shots of the stunning renovation if Freshwater – one of our favorite projects of last year – from our wonderful clients, Gerard and Lynn.

We were tasked with transforming this unlovley 1960’s bungalow into a two-story home and create a haven of tranquility for the family, working with Jeremy Adams of Lifestyle Home Designs. Jeremy is one of those designers who is a great listener and really easy to work with. He’s well versed in local building regulations too, which helped to minimise delays in the approval process and get on with the build. From a builder’s perspective, Jeremy’s plans were extremely accurate and this made for a smooth process. This project was really a perfect example of client, designer and builders working collaboratively and harmoniously with speedy and clear communication throughout.



Our brief was to create something slightly eclectic – our clients were not fans of having everything modern, feeling the look lacked soul. Lynn particularly loved hunting on ebay and a few of her favorite shops for vintage pieces to give the home some real character – seeking out those special things that really make a home very personal and, well, homely.



We were provided with an abundance of magazine images to help illustrate the things they liked, which was really helpful.

Lynn has an amazing creative talent and designed the interior herself. She had some incredible ideas and inspired us with some really clever use of materials. It was a real pleasure to help bring her ideas to life.

Specialist finishes were a really important feature of this renovation and we commissioned the very talented ladies from Tiles by Kate to create some spectacular features throughout the property.

Our clients loved the custom made steel-framed windows and doors we sourced for the build, lending a stylish industrial feel to the space.



There were two unique things about this project that we wouldn’t ordinarily recommend as ideal methodologies, but actually worked like a dream in this instance.

Firstly, for certain areas of the home, our clients really wanted to see the space before they made decisions on finishes and positioning of particular features during the build. This approach can only work if you are able to ensure you’ll be on hand to make those decisions as needed to avoid delays to the schedule – and if you’re confident of making speedy decisions once you get to view the space.

Secondly, the family made the decision to live onsite in the existing house, while we built the upper level and were relatively unaffected by the construction.

People tend to choose this option as a cost saving measure, but the reality is that if often proves to be more expensive as it can extend the construction period. The family did relocate for 6 months during the lower level works.



During the construction phase, it’s really important to consider your neighbours and keep them fully informed of what is happening, especially if there is likely to be any impact on them. At Sydney Beach Homes, we are always mindful of this and take great care to help manage these relationships by encouraging open communication and establishing a relationship with your neighbours. There will almost always be one neighbour or other that feels inconvenienced, but we’ve become quite adept at keeping them happy with regular communication, respect, and a winning smile J.



We successfully transformed this 2 bedroom, single level dwelling into a two story, 4 bedroom family home, increasing the floor area from 142m2 to 254m2.

The renovation project took a total of 9 months.

 Freshwater home renovation interiors by Sydney Beach Homes


We always work hard to build strong relationships with our clients and the team of professionals we collaborate with on any project, so it’s always rewarding to hear how happy they have been with the result.


“OMG! I love our home. Thank you for all your hard work (including your crack team) and for remaining enthusiastic and focused from start to finish. You’re the best!”

Lynn Dixon : Freshwater renovation client.


“Thanks for what you have done for my family. I was impressed with your team and their performance. We’ve all loved moving back into the house.”

Gerard O’Hara : Freshwater renovation client.


“I have been working as a designer for 20 years and have seen work by many builders in my time. It is rare to find builders that are emotionally invested in a project and always striving for the best possible outcome for their clients. John and Jonno obviously take pride in their work and their attention to detail has made the project at Freshwater really stand out…….Well done!!!”

Jeremy Adams (pls advise surname) : Freshwater renovation designer.

Lifestyle Home Design

All images shown are courtesy of Katie at


At Sydney Beach Homes, we’re fans of a wide variety of architecture and decorative styles, which we’ll be featuring here on our blog from time to time. We thought we’d start with the quintessential Classic Australian Beach Home and offer some tips on how to get the style just right.


Classic Australian beach homes, are typically of weatherboard construction, most often painted in white or soft shades borrowed from the coastal surroundings.

Gables are usually high with tiled or Colorbond roofing.

Go for a mix of ceiling heights internally. You might create an upper level in the eaves with dormer windows in parts of the home, while allowing ceilings in some of your living spaces to soar to the rafters.

High ceilings

Be sure to pay particular attention to windows – beach homes should be flooded with natural light, yet have the ability to shield rooms from the heat of the day. And of course, you need to make the most of any amazing views you may have. Coastal homes often locate the main living spaces on the upper levels to maximise the impact of available views, which also has the additional benefit of keeping the bedrooms cooler.

Louvered windows are a great way of capturing a little coastal breeze and filtering it through your home.



Interiors should harmonise seamlessly with the outdoors, bringing you closer to nature and its soothing effects, while creating a greater feeling of space. You can get creative with folding, stacking or even garage style doors to open your living areas up to blend with your outdoor spaces.

Here are a couple of beautiful examples, that open the home front and back, effortlessly connecting the pool and gardens with the beach.

Bringing the outdoors in

Blurring the boundaries of the indoors and outdoors lends itself particularly well to the kitchen.

Allowing your kitchen bench to extend out through a bi-fold or awning-style window to the outdoor entertaining area, creates a handy and sociable kitchen servery. This is a great way to connect the kitchen to the barbecue area, making it easy to pass food and drinks without continually having to move in and out of the house.


Australian beach homes generally tend to facilitate a fairly active ocean-side lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with half of the beach finding its way into your home.

Thinking carefully about your entrances and the facilities you place there will make your life a lot easier and keep your home a lot neater.

Build in storage areas by your entrance ways, where surf boards, beach toys and equipment, towels and beach bags etc. can be grabbed quickly and easily, and more importantly, deposited on the way back inside without trailing mess and clutter through the house.

Add some shelves, baskets or cupboards to store small items like thongs, sunscreen, hats and shades so you’re always ready to take advantage of an impromptu walk to the beach.

Beachside living can involve lots of larger toys and gadgets too, and they all need a home, so make sure you create ample storage for bicycles, jet skis, kayaks etc. etc. It’s a good idea to install a water source close by too, so you can hose things down before you put them away.

A beach home is the perfect environment to install an outdoor bathroom or shower area. You can make sure everyone is clean and sand-free before they step back in the house. Be sure to make it accessible from the front and the back the property. Having to trail through the house to use the outdoor shower, kind of defeats the object of your ingenious facility.

This clever design (far right) featured in House Beautiful magazine, allows access to an indoor bathroom from the garden.

Outdoor shower


When selecting your colours, both internally and externally, it’s always best to create harmony with your particular environment. There are exceptions, but bright or bold colours can be particularly jarring and will detract from the serenity that is the trademark of a house by the ocean.

If in doubt, you simply cannot go wrong with white. This is the ultimate backdrop for your coastal look. Go for an all-over white on white theme, using contrasting materials and texture to create interest, or blend with sandy and pale ocean colours. White also looks incredibly fresh combined with zingy leafy greens, or if you plan to have a pool, carry highlights of refreshing light blues and aquas throughout your living spaces.

For a twist on the classic opt for deep blues or smoky greys as a base – or sandy coloured natural timber.

Remember, colours that look good on a paint swatch at your local hardware store may look completely different in the direct sunlight. Find place to test your colours and view them over several days under different lighting conditions to make sure you get it right.

Look out for our “Colours of our World” posts on our Facebook page for inspiration –



Typical beach home décor can conjure up images of overly twee, beachy styled cottages that almost look like caricatures, but for us, a practical coastal style really doesn’t mean overloading your home with every little beach related knick-knack you can get your hands on, or find washed up on the beach.

Classic coastal living is about serenity, embracing the elements and taking influence from the beach and the ocean. It’s certainly a casual lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t weave in a little sophistication too.

By adding just a few carefully chosen beach inspired items to a classically stylish design, these become statement pieces and add a welcome accent to the décor.

These elegant images from demonstrates this beautifully.

Chic coastal style

Beach living really lends itself to natural materials and fabrics, chalky paints, bleached timbers etc.

But don’t be afraid to add some contrast as well to avoid creating a jaded, clichéd beach-house style.

Mix in some contemporary pieces and finishes for a little drama and interest as well as the occasional antique or retro item. Beach house style should be personalised – it’s not one look that you must try to emulate at all costs – it should be very much your look and reflect the personality and lifestyle of you and your family.



The key to creating a beautiful and functional beach home – or any home, in fact, is research. If you don’t have a definite idea of the style you want to create, spend lots of time poring through magazines, making Pinterest boards, collecting colour charts and pulling it all together to see how it looks. Once you have defined your colours, it’s a good idea to always take them shopping with you, as it’s really very difficult to keep a colour in your head. This will save a lot of wasted time, buying and returning things that don’t quite work with your scheme.

We just love to work with our clients’ ideas and help bring them to life, adding our own knowledge and expertise to surpass their initial expectations.

If you’d like to see what we can do together, give us a call…

Contact John or Jono on +61 9939 2592

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