Practicality, calmness and an affinity for neutrals underpin the chic aesthetic of this coastal holiday house that offers a resort-style ambience for several generations of one family.
Cruising around the waterways of the New South Wales Central Coast it would be impossible not to notice this stylish pavilion-style home. With its pristine white facade, palm trees swaying in the breeze and an infinity pool lapping the water’s edge, it exudes a luxury resort vibe.
The owners consider themselves lucky to have found the property, having searched in vain for a holiday house from Palm Beach to the Southern Highlands. However, when a friend told them about a north-facing waterfront block of land at Wagstaffe, vacant except for a one-bedroom boatshed, the couple contacted the agent and the very day that they viewed the property they purchased it. That was in 2013 and they quickly engaged architect Dennis Rabinowitz, principal of JPR Architects, who has his own property nearby.
The brief was for a “Hamptons/Bahamas look, but it ended up being closer to the Bahamas”, says the owner. “We wanted a light, bright beach house that was relaxed and not precious, and that would also accommodate our children and grandchildren.”
Six years on, the family revels in the feeling of peace and calm that their house, Agave – winner of the 2018 HIA-CSR Australian House of the Year – engenders. With seven bedrooms and five bathrooms it is certainly spacious, offering abundant room for four grandchildren who range in age from three to 12. “As soon as we arrive at the house we totally unwind and feel that we are really away from everything,” says the owner.
A white granite drive heralds the courtyard entrance to the house, past a purpose-built playground with swings, slides, a trampoline and a boat filled with sand – a haven for the grandchildren. The relaxed, holiday ambience is immediately evident and the indoor/outdoor connection is seamless, with breezy, free-flowing living spaces leading through floor-to-ceiling glazed doors to the infinity pool and sandy beach beyond.
The master suite is located on one side of the pool deck, and has the atmosphere of a retreat when the owners are in residence alone. “On those occasions we never even go upstairs,” they say. A lanai offers extra dining and lounging opportunities and is the family’s favourite place for entertaining around the barbecue.
Upstairs, visiting family and friends can be accommodated in complete privacy with four self-contained bedroom, bathroom and dressing room suites located at each corner of the house. As well, there is a bunk room with beds for four and an infants’ room.
To counterbalance all the serene white, punch comes from organic materials used in cushions and rugs, rattan chairs, cane baskets, recycled timber, tribal objects and graphic artwork. “We bought furnishings in LA, as well as locally from Orient House, MCM House and Water Tiger,” says the owner, who collaborated with her interior designer daughter on the soft and neutral scheme. “We enjoy being surrounded by good design – that’s important to us.”
Interesting finishes have also been employed, such as ‘drunken render’ and eucalyptus latte sticks bound into battens that form the roof over the lanai. Landscaping by Marcia Hosking of palms, white bougainvillea, agave and dragon trees add to the tropical island feel.
While the property’s position on the water, the pool and nearby beach and the lush vegetation all spell summer and alfresco living, the owners say they also love the house in winter. “There are three fireplaces, as well as one outdoors, so it is warm and beautiful when it’s cold.” But it is also the calmness and practicality of the house that is so appealing. The pared-back architectural detailing allows the carefully selected furnishings to shine, and with so many spaces for the family to be together or apart it is the perfect multi-generational home.
And, as a reminder of the owners’ serendipitous find, the original boatshed remains – though now it’s been upgraded into a teenagers’ retreat, ensuring that the property is relevant for family living for many years to come.