Home By the Sea
This spacious apartment may have spectacular views over Port Philip Bay, but with its sleek and contemporary styling it’s far from being a quaint beach house. Trying to find the perfect property can be a long and sometimes stressful journey, but Jill and Allan were sure they’d know their dream home when they saw it – and that’s what happened when they found a new first-floor apartment in a small block of three, overlooking Port Philip Bay. Set in the beachside suburb of Brighton, it ticked all the right boxes. “When we were househunting there were a few must-haves on our list of features – above all else the property had to meet the criterion of position, position, position!” Jill says. It also needed to be modern, new or near-new, and have good storage and security. That it also happened to have one of the best views in Melbourne was an added bonus!
SPACE AND LIGHT
Their beautiful apartment couldn’t be more different from their previous homes. Allan was living in a two-storey Georgian-style townhouse in Elwood, and Jill had a two-bedroom apartment in a heritage complex with a large central garden. “Both homes were smaller and didn’t have the open-plan layout of our current apartment,” Jill explains. One of the things that sold them on their new Brighton home was the size of all the rooms – and Jill in particular fell in love with the separate his/her walk-in robes. It was the constantly changing view of Port Philip Bay, however, that truly inspired them. “It’s absolutely spectacular at all times of the day and in any weather,” Jill muses. The view never seems the same and can change from one glance to the next. “We can see the Brighton baths, the Icebergers on their daily swims and the yacht club,” Jill says. “There’s also a small reef directly in front of us, which attracts lots of seabirds and fishermen.” Needless to say, with a vista like that, the balcony plays a huge role in their day-to-day lives. “We use our balcony all the time,” Jill says. “It’s the place for simple lunches and barbecue dinners for the two of us, and it’s where we host Friday after-work drinks and entertain friends.” The couple love inviting guests over, and all the entertaining is done in the front half of the home – lounge-come-dining room, kitchen and balcony – leaving the rest of the apartment as their private retreat. They regularly have friends around for cards, book group, drinks, dinner and special events. In fact, a couple of years ago Jill and Allan had brunch on the balcony for 20 or so friends who were lucky enough to have a bird’s-eye view of the Commonwealth Games cycling time trials. Few people could top that for guest entertainment! And while Jill says she’s by no means a gourmet cook, the layout of the kitchen makes entertaining a pleasure. “All the appliances are at my fingertips and, as the kitchen merges seamlessly with the lounge and dining area, it’s easy to mingle with guests at the same time,” she notes. Her favourite features of the kitchen are its clean lines and finishes – especially the gloss on the cupboards and the protective layer on the marble benches, which she says keeps them looking like new. “And cooking becomes less of a chore when looking out at the view!” she smiles.
The couple’s style has evolved into what Jill describes as “modern with a touch of Asian”. They both wanted a minimalist, spacious appearance with clean, uncluttered lines, but without looking sterile or too stark. “I think the overall look is one of ‘less is more’, which allows us to throw contemporary, Asian and even a few antiques into the mix,” Jill explains. Having travelled extensively in Asia for both work and pleasure, she was drawn to the way a lot of the furniture from the countries she visited achieves a balance between simplicity and functionality. When it came to choosing the colour scheme, Jill and Allan opted for predominantly neutral and earthy tones with touches of soft greens. “While our apartment is located opposite the beach, it’s not a holiday house, it’s our home 24/7 – and as such, I wanted a fresh, clean look that wouldn’t date,” Jill explains. Interior designer Ann Ramsdale, from Red Coral Design, was able to help her realise her ideas. Ann had quite a challenge on her hands, however, as she needed to incorporate furniture from both Jill and Allen’s previous homes. “They each had pieces of furniture they were very attached to,” Anne says. “This became a challenge, as Allan favoured traditional pieces whereas Jill had a contemporary, eclectic mix with an Asian twist.” Pieces of Jill’s furniture were chosen for the dining area, lounge and bedrooms, whereas Allan’s furniture was selected mostly for the study and entrance. Ann says because the apartment is a substantial size, with lots of light, it required furnishing on a larger scale, which is why Jill’s pieces were favoured for the main living area. Ann helped Jill and Allan to achieve an interior that was comfortable and warm while uncluttered and peaceful – a home that fits in with their busy lives. “We chose a scheme for the lounge, keeping the large sofas neutral and accentuating them with dark custom-made coffee tables and lime chairs and cushions,” Anne says. “This gave the scheme a wonderful contrast and flowed beautifully with existing furniture and accessories.” Ann then set about creating warmth with rugs made from New Zealand wool. “These wonderful items were commissioned from a family business that raised the sheep, spun the fleece then produced the rugs,” she says. Working together, Ann, Jill and Allan have given the apartment a beautiful balance between sophistication and elegance – ideal for entertaining – and made it the kind of welcoming home that’s a haven to retreat to.
STORY SUNNY DE BRUYN PHOTOGRAPHY ALBERT COMPER STYLING JAYNE REID