Who lives here
Professional couple with one half being a high-profile fashion blogger.
Tamarama, Sydney's Eastern Suburbs
Soft minimalism with a relaxed barefoot luxury
Standing in the kitchen and looking out to the view – one of the appealing things about living on the coast is that you feel a sense of spaciousness out beyond your window, for me though, it really comes back to the unexpected combination of materials.
Christophe Delcourt tables, that together make one large coffee table, or can be separated into two side tables
Set between two high profile suburbs, Bondi Beach and Bronte, the small coastal neighbourhood of Tamarama take sun-loving days up a notch with a rocky coastline that gives way to an easy-going foreshore of surf, sun and sand. It's the backdrop to an inter-war apartment, cleverly designed to honour the character of the building with a coastal sophistication fitting of Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.
The two-bedroom apartment, home of a young professional couple (one half of who is a high-profile fashion blogger), had a makeover to reflect the owners' lifestyle. Bringing in Interior Designer, Alexandra Donohoe Church of Decus Interiors, they created a functional yet stylishly on-trend apartment, unique in the way that many design elements were called upon to perform double duty.
Alexandra's brief was to open up the 1940s apartment with its original layout to capture the natural light, allowing it to filter through to spaces that are traditionally dark. Compact in size, the apartment follows a standard footprint, the front door opening into a hallway that has two bedrooms and a bathroom off to one side, opening out to a kitchen that evolves into a living space and an outdoor terrace.
"The challenge of this project was to work within an incredibly tight timeframe and budget but to respond to the clients' youthful and fashion-forward aesthetic sensibilities," explains Alexandra. "We really wanted to lighten and freshen the home, and for it not to feel like a conventional beach apartment, so we made some choices that are a little more sophisticated."
Blending the Old with the New
Stripping the flooring back to the original baltic pine, a pale timber with knots, lightening up the walls and replacing the original cornicing with a textured timber ceiling structure – creating a canvas for a beautiful juxtaposition between the old and new, the high-end and the humble.
"A mix of elegance and fun is particularly evident in the addition of a folly (the feminine gloss pink archway) and the combination of finishes," says Alexandra. "The humble and hardworking everyman's plywood which we whitewashed, was specified in conjunction with some highbrow marble, and a beautiful custom brass pendant mixed in with a smattering of vintage lighting and furniture."
Spatially constricted Alexandra decided to create a monolithic stone element – a kitchen island with rosy and burgundy tones and a Paul Matter pendant light above (the jewellery) - a multi-functional space that doubles as the dining table and kitchen.
The living room was refurbished with vintage and contemporary furnishings; artwork' Plastic Fantastic' by local Sydney artist, Dina Broadhurst hangs on the wall. The leather chair, P444 by Pierre Paulin, sits alongside the Christophe Delcourt tables, that together make one large coffee table, or can be separated into two side tables – playing on the dual purpose that became essential in the compact apartment.
"Because there wasn't a lot of space to play with, everything within the apartment had to perform two jobs, so sometimes things would be a chair and a table, or a pantry and a full height mirror," says Alexandra.
Through the archway, where the hallway meets the open plan kitchen and living room, a large full height pivot mirror-clad door disguises the pantry. Essential, not only for the fashionista owner to have somewhere she could try on clothes, but to bounce light around the middle of the apartment and create spaciousness.
Layers of Textures
For Alexandra, it was all about the layered texturing and materiality. Doing away with the original vanilla colouring of the apartment, she created a soft palette that is still quite textural. She explains that "it's not super overt or in your face, it's strong without being aggressive."
Completing the look is the glass bi-fold doors that open out onto a timber-clad terrace with uninterrupted views of the neighbourhood and the ocean beyond.
"I love standing in the kitchen and looking out to the view – one of the appealing things about living on the coast is that you feel a sense of spaciousness out beyond your window, for me though, it really comes back to the unexpected combination of materials," says Alexandra.
A small coastal neighbourhood tucked in-between Bondi Beach and Bronte, Tamarama has a real, local feel. Streets lined with seaside apartments and coastal homes that take full advantage of ocean views, while Tamarama Park along the foreshore evolves into the much-loved beach and rocky ledges. Which is where you will also find McKenzie Bay, a rocky retreat that every once in a while, has a sand dump and turns it into a beach. Connecting Tamarama with its famed neighbours is the popular Coastal Walk, which hugs the shoreline.
Sitchu's Favourite Tamarama Hangouts
Right on Tamarama Beach is the Coffee Shop, it has uninterrupted views of the beach and outdoor seating.
The Bogey Hole Café is an enduring local favourite and for a good reason. Check out their veggie burger.
Three Blue Ducks in Bronte is one of our absolute go-to's. Renowned for their wholesome and delicious brunch, they are an absolute must for dinner as well.
Bondi Icebergs if only for the views alone!
Go-to local boutique
Commune Bondi is a treasure trove of natural, handmade homewares sourced from all over the world.
Best things to do in Tamarama
Grab some friends for a beachside barbeque picnic at Tamarama Park, and the Coastal Walk needs to be experienced.
Interior Design: Decus Interiors
Builder: Marshal Keen
Photographer: Felix Forest
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