Aussies have an unparalleled flair for easy living, even in the country’s largest cities. Exhibit A: This Art Deco–inspired townhouse, which sits mere blocks from the beach in Melbourne’s bustling Elwood suburb and was entirely inspired by sun and sea. Home to a former professional cricketer, his wife, and their two young children, the house needed to accommodate the needs of a busy young family while maximizing sunlight and indoor-outdoor living.
“The key theme for the interiors was embracing the light and letting the Elwood sun in, ” says Lachie Gibson, who oversaw the development at ANGLE. “The living room was inspired by the colors of a Californian sunset.” Though Melbourne technically sits on a large bay, the sand and surf culture is omnipresent in this inner-city home. The backyard—complete with an outdoor shower—was inspired by informal gatherings that take place after long beach days.
While the neighborhood’s heavy Art Deco influences informed the townhouse’s architecture, everything inside is designed to maximize a carefree, sun-filled life. Inspired by sunset hues, beach days, and the local cafe culture, the design team was able to create a true beach respite in a prime metropolitan setting. Ahead, they share their top tips for living a carefree, stylish life.
Maximize Natural Light
“One of the most important tips is to maximize your natural light. This will take your small space from cramped to airy,” says Hana Hakim, the founder of The Stella Collective and the design director behind the project. “You can do this with feature mirrors that are functional, create space, and harness the light.” Her goal was to create the feel of a vacation retreat in the heart of a large city like Melbourne.
“[We] ensured that the finishes have a little bit of reflectivity to them to make sure that there is this sunshine feel,” adds the designer, who was inspired by the bright golden sunlight of Ibiza and the carefree nature of the Mediterranean lifestyle to inform her decisions.
Keep Everything Tucked Away
Beyond pure aesthetics, the key to a carefree lifestyle involves plenty of clever storage where everything has a place and tidying up is kept at a minimum. “Thoughtful storage solutions were key in creating a clutter-free space,” Hakim told Domino. In the kitchen, floor-to-ceiling cabinets store everything from juicers to brooms and dustpans.
“We designed in a way where everything has a space,” she adds. “It was important to design this space to be a clutter-free area. As an avid cook myself, the kitchen is a place to unwind, socialize, and be truly in the moment when cooking.” Beyond the kitchen, built-in small storage details from toy chests to medicine cabinets were added throughout to minimize clutter.
“All the finishes have a little bit of reflectivity to ensure that the home has a sunny feel to it.”
Decorate in Sunset Hues
Inspired by sunset hues, the designers kept everything rose-tinted and airy, sprinkling earthy and rusty desert tones throughout the space. “Using low-lying furniture and a mixture of fabrics, from velvet to Australian wool, we created a layered space that didn’t fight to fit in,” says Sara Chamberlain, the founder of The Real Estate Stylist, who oversaw the home’s final touches. Bright white walls, rose-hued mirrors, and warm copper finishes create the perfect backdrop for thoughtful layering.
Design for Your Lifestyle
“The intention of the floorplan is that a family could grow with this space,” says Hakim. “We explore playrooms, second livings, kids rooms, and different living room layouts before settling on our furniture placement.” On the ground floor, the home opens up to an expansive open-plan living room, which also includes a kitchen, a dining room, a wrap-around courtyard, and a powder room. The first floor is reserved for the kids, while the top floor serves as an adult retreat, with a large master bedroom, a walk-in wardrobe, an expansive master bathroom, and an outdoor terrace.
“The master bedroom is pretty special,” she adds. “Something else that was really important to us conceptually was to try to frame views. You’ll see this really come through in the master bedroom where we’ve really tried to just dominate that top floor and treat it as though it’s like a beautiful hotel room.” To achieve this, the designers used white steel-framed glazing in lieu of traditional walls, which keeps everything open and airy.
“It was important to design this space to be a clutter-free area. As an avid cook myself, the kitchen is a place to unwind, socialize, and be truly in the moment when cooking.”
Accessorize With Simplicity
A space doesn’t need extensive styling when every surface has been carefully chosen and all possessions have been thoughtfully tucked away: A few plants, mirrors, and breezy linens will suffice. In the kitchen, an integrated fridge and European laundry behind dove gray cabinet doors do the muscle work, while accents, like rose-colored mirrors, copper shelving, plants, and cookbooks, provide the right setting for entertaining. “We selected an established devil’s ivy to train down the caddie and simple herbs for a touch of life and fragrance,” says Chamberlain. The bathrooms have a similarly breezy treatment, with simple earthy props, plants, and candles.
Make Use of Your Outdoor Space
Due to the limited square footage, the outdoor space on the ground floor, which was conceived to host the family’s informal gatherings after a trip to the beach, was outfitted with an outdoor shower in lieu of a pool. The home’s proximity to the beach meant that this handy fixture would serve the owners better and leave room for entertaining. “An outdoor shower area is as good as a pool on a hot day and transforms your home into a true retreat,” says Hakim. On the master suite balcony, a built-in daybed transforms an often underused area into a luxurious relaxing hub.
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