Sydney Beach House

Framed by masses of tropical foliage, this beach house with its million-dollar waterfront views combines grandeur and sophistication in a contemporary manner.

Architect & Builder: Cadence & Co | Landscape Designer: Sticks & Stones Landscape Design

Photographer: Tate Martin of Northern Exposure Photography

Architecture & Construction

Cadence & Co

Based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches Cadence & Co is a multi-disciplinary practice specialising in quality residential homes. With a keen eye for detail and quality workmanship, Cadence & Co deliver a holistic service from design concept to completion tackling all aspects including architect, construction and landscape.

Image: Lead Architectural Designer Michael Kilkeary with directors Darren Mills and Mark Campbell.

Landscape

Sticks & Stones Landscape Design

Lead by Fiona Ericsson & Julia Levitt, Sticks & Stones Landscape Design pride themselves on connecting the architecture with the landscape, enhancing the outdoor living environment. With a passion for horticulture, Sticks & Stones offer their clientele extensive plant knowledge and ensure suitable species and sustainable landscape solutions are at the forefront of their designs.

Modern Beachside Living

The Story Behind The Design

Positioned on an exclusive site at the edge of one of Sydney’s best beaches, this was never going to be an ordinary beach house. The client’s brief to Cadence & Co was very clear from the outset. They desired a contemporary home that was liveable, easy to maintain and built of durable materials that could withstand the unforgiving beachside climate.

Cadence & Co welcomed the challenge to design and build a beachside home that combined grandeur and sophistication.

Lead architectural designer Michael Kilkeary said the prominent site had a long history. For a number of years, it sat cleared with an unsightly concrete slab after the previous owner’s plans for a five-storey building were rejected. Whatever Cadence & Co proposed for the site was going to be an improvement for the locals, however, the firm was driven to build a home that nestled unobtrusively into the steep site given its highly visible position.

The original concept was an all rendered and painted four-level building, explained Michael. On reflection, the architects found it was “too brutal and only extenuated the building’s large mass”. Adopting a materials palette that responded to the natural environment was needed to break down the structure’s scale and connect it to the coastal setting.

Michael explained a combination of Alpine & Howqua natural stone walling formed a traditional, strong base for the building, grounding it in the landscape. The mid-level has been finished in a painted render of a neutral tone that ties in with the natural colour variations in the stone. Completing the external finishes, the home’s top level has been clad in a dark anthracite vertical zinc panelling and the balcony’s roof is in cedar.

There’s no hiding the building’s substantial, geometric form. However, by layering materials and opting for a palette that’s sympathetic to the location, the severity of the structure has been reduced and the complexity of the architecture revealed.

Altogether, these finishes help breaks down the scale of the building and allows it to nestle more seamlessly into the sloping site.

Michael Kilkeary

Take A Closer Look

Internally, the design aesthetic needed to reinforce “a contemporary feel that still evoked a relaxed vibe”. As avid art collectors, the interior finishes were to provide a backdrop for the client’s eclectic art. A contemporary palette was adopted that drew inspiration from textures in the natural environment without competing with what was to be hung on the walls.

The home’s entry foyer was always intended to be a gallery space, explained Michael. A sense of luxury has been created; a moody space layered with detail from the timber lined ceiling to the honed Lagano granite flooring. “The entry walls feature it in a diagonal ribbed texture that gives the impression of a lovely corduroy fabric,” said Michael.

The contrast of materials and art continues throughout the interior emphasising a bespoke, yet liveable, ambience. Capitalising on ocean aspect was vital and achieved through expansive panes of glass and generously sized terraces extending from the living areas and master bedroom.

This openness and desire to accentuate the immediate beach position didn’t come free of challenges. Obtaining privacy and disguising the views of the road was one of the main challenges that both the architects and landscape designers Julia Levitt and Fiona Ericsson from Sticks & Stones Landscape Design faced. Overcoming this, several destinations within the garden were created to provide an escape from the view of beachgoers and protection from the resilient sea winds.

Fittings & Fixtures

Pendant

Weplight Lora 58 Pendant

Cabinetry

Eveneer Saltwood Veneer

Table

Stella Meals Table by Zuster Furniture

Planters

Gabion Pot by Sticks & Stones Landscape Design

Signature Element

Materiality was always at the forefront of the architecture due to the site’s prominence and level of exposure, as well as the grandeur of the structure itself. To soften the large mass, Cadence & Co distributed a variety of superior external finishes of natural stone, render and zinc throughout. Rather than appearing as a solid block, the depth and complexities of the architecture have been exposed.

Repetition and planting en masse creates a seamless look but in between, there are a lot of diverse planting combinations which was key.

Julia Levitt

Off the kitchen lies a sun trap terrace with a meandering stair down the side of the property opening onto grass area; a space Michael, Julia and Fiona agreed was a triumph. A complex combination of subtropical plantings enveloped the building providing a lush and grand feel, which Julia explained was a specific brief from the client.

No expense was spared to create an “instantly grown in and glamourous garden”, explained Julia. Over 3,500 tropical plants, inspired by the client’s holidays to Hamilton Island, were specifically grown or sourced from Queensland. Juggling the challenges of planting in this tough climate with the desire for instant mass required intense planning. The result: a diverse garden of strong plant combinations illustrating texture, contrast and interest can be achieved with foliage alone.