Sean Fennessy and I recently had a pretty awesome trip to NSW to shoot a bunch of fabulous homes and I today's amazing family home was one of the highlights! Perched up high overlooking Copacabana surf beach on the NSW central coast, its panoramic views coupled with a distinctly relaxed, holiday feel really give this home a uniquely Australian appeal.
This impressive beachside home belongs to Jen Stumbles and Ben Kerr – owners of outdoor furniture retailer Eco Outdoor. Together with their three young boys, Jen and Ben divide their time between this house in sleepy Copacabana, and a second home a little closer to Sydney. 'We lived here full-time for a brief period and really loved it. Copa is such a beautiful surf town with a really strong sense of community, but unfortunately the commute was too much and we just couldn’t make it work as our primary residence' explains Jen.
Jen and Ben bought the home in 2009, and first started renovating in 2010. 'It’s been a bit of a labour of love for the past few years' explains Jen. 'We basically took the old house and gutted it completely'. The layout was reconfigured and opened up to given every room an ocean view. The deck on the ocean side was also extended 'so that we can do some serious outdoor living out there' says Jen! 'For about 8 months of the year we eat out there most nights, and there’s plenty of space for guests and entertaining'. A second deck was also built on the other side of the home, facing into the valley, which allows for easy ventilation through the house and also creates a space to relax in the winter sun when the ocean side becomes too cold. 'That was probably one of the best things we did with the house' sys Jen, adding 'it also means that the house never gets too hot. Although we have air conditioning, we never use it because the sea breeze flowing from one side of the loungeroom to the other means that the whole house gets cooled naturally'.
￼Jen and Ben opted to leave all the ceiling joists exposed, using a very rough limewash on the ceiling and floor to lighten and brighten the space. The kitchen was rebuilt by a fantastic Sydney based cabinetmaker who works with reclaimed timber. 'We found this guy Anthony who works out of an auction yard' says Jen. 'He is incredibly talented but more than that, he’s really passionate. He would ring us on a Sunday to tell us excitedly that he’d found some terrific timber for some part of the kitchen or some painted boards he was saving for the cubby holes! Every time I look at that kitchen, I think about how much effort went into it, and its stories like that which make a house feel like your home'.
As proprietors of fantastically successful Australian outdoor lifestyle / furniture brand Eco Outdoor, it's no surprise Jen and Ben love the great outdoors, and spent a lot time considering the exterior spaces when designing their home. The garden was designed by Michael Cooke Garden Design, and the landscape was built by Adam Eurell of Natures Vision - both are close friends of Jen and Ben's who live locally. 'We talked about what sort of spaces we wanted to create outside, and then basically let them do their thing' recalls Jen. 'Michael Cooke is a big fan of native planting and he encouraged us to keep all the casuarinas you can see in the front ocean-facing yard. Most people tend to clear the whole front so they can just see ocean, but Michael was very insistent that we keep them to provide some context to the view. You can still see a lot of ocean but this way you really get a beautiful framed view which is something we now really appreciate'.
If Jen and Ben's relaxed outdoor aesthetic appeals to you, do check out their business, Eco Outdoor. As an industrious husband and wife team (with three young kids!) its pretty incredible what they have achieved over the past few years - they now have eight stores across Australia and one in Los Angeles.... ummm that seems seriously amazing to me - I met these people, they do not appear to be over 40! Epic work Jen and Ben! Very inspiring stuff. Thankyou for sharing your home with us today!