A simple colour palette and hand-selected furniture pieces transformed this residence for a family of four into a fun but practical beach house.

This Mediterranean-inspired villa in Portsea, Victoria – complete with three large archways that are partially covered by wall creepers – overlooks a turquoise swimming pool flanked by luscious olive trees. Housed within was a labyrinth of heavily detailed and expansive rooms that needed to be brought back to life, with the owners requiring the interior be converted from a formal place, to a smart and laidback beach house perfect for entertaining. 

The pool fence was designed to maintain the safety of the clients’ children, and the garden furniture (available from MAP) was selected to withstand harsh weather conditions. Pops of colour including white, yellow and blue fill the space. The furniture is movable, so seating arrangements can be changed regularly to suit the seasons.

Says interior designer Mardi Doherty, “The clients wanted a fun and welcoming holiday home that felt lived-in and that was inviting from the moment you walked through the front door. They wanted it to connect with the surrounding environment, and to work for not only a family of four, but also parties of 30-40 guests.

“We stripped away the busy interior layout and style to create a more modern, pared-back interior with open-plan spaces,” she says. “This instantly introduced
a much more casual, easy-living look and feel in order to meet the clients’ beach-house expectations.”

Working from the ground up, Mardi and her team added colour and texture to each room, using furnishings and artworks to accentuate a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere synonymous with the Mediterranean and Australian coastal lifestyles.

“In terms of designated areas, a casual, sophisticated vibe was introduced to the parents’ room; a fully working study was added to the home; fun, bright bedrooms were created for the clients’ two children; and a pool surround was customised to suit the renovation,” says Mardi.

“Combinations of contemporary and vintage pieces were used to add character. Additional furniture – such as a Grant Featherston chair and foot stool, a pair of recovered vintage Danish Deluxe chairs, and a leather 70s Falcon chair – was brought in to provide another layer that hints at the space evolving over time, and to add personality to the otherwise contemporary feel.”

Bursts of colour create extra pizazz in each room, from the blue statement rug and matching chair in the study and the red and white bar chairs in the kitchen, to the giant world-map wallpaper in one of the kids’ bedrooms.

The walls of the home are smartly painted a creamy white, allowing Mardi and her team to create tailored personal spaces while maintaining connectivity between each room.

The dining table by Mark Tuckey, and the Eames white plastic chairs were chosen specifically for their classic look, robustness, and ease of maintenance. The table was positioned so that none of the diners sitting at it would need to have their backs to the pool.

“Lighter wall colour and window treatments were used to cut the clients’ need for the use of artificial lighting during the day,” Mardi says of the other benefits to her paint choice. “Sustainability was similarly incorporated into the design through the reuse of existing timber furniture, which was reinterpreted for the new contemporary beach house.”

By installing a combination of wall, table and pendant lights, Mardi was also able to generate a warm and intimate feeling in each room, effectively reducing any empty or disconnected regions, although there was one room that wasn’t so easy to transform. 

“The main room was very large so we set about creating smaller zones within the one big room to create more intimate spaces,” Mardi says of addressing the issue.
Along with having to make the inside areas more personable, the team was also faced with the problem of customising a pool renovation to suit the family.

“The main obstacle was the pool area, and providing measures to ensure it was safe for their two children,” Mardi says. 

“The previous owners didn’t have young children so the pool area was very open, without any fencing – only safety latches on the external doors.”

This was easily solved with a simple yet effective glass fence, adding safety without losing the poolside views from within the home.

Mardi’s end result is a home of grand proportions, an understated, relaxed luxury feel emulated throughout. Each element used within the interior melds smoothly with the architecture, connecting indoor and outdoor areas together, and leaving the owners with a space that blurs the lines between a family home and a laidback holiday retreat.

For one of the living areas, Mardi chose vintage armchairs from Grandfathers Axe because she loved their detailing. A contemporary rug by Patricia Urquiola (available from HUB) helps frame this intimate seating arrangement.


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