For most of us, home is the most important place in the world, a refuge. All the homeowners in this book said, when first falling in love with their home, it was all about the kids – how they wanted them to grow up, what they wanted them to learn, feel and remember.
I’ve lived in our humble beach shack with my son, Jack, (until recently, as he’s just moved out) for 20-plus years. It has been our haven during all the ups and downs of life and I chose it with him in mind. I wanted the experience and memories of the house to stay with him forever – from the banging of the fly screen door to the doorstep that scrapes the timber floor, from the overflowing bookshelves to the squishy sofa that’s seen tears, tantrums, love and laughs. All the emotions, memories, sounds, scents and good vibes of a happy house well-lived.
As the former editor of an interiors magazine, my passion for design, architecture and interiors is constant, but at the heart of this book is my love, respect and mindfulness for the quintessential beach house. I’ve watched too many disappear over the years. One demolition that broke my heart a few years ago was watching a beautiful, pistachio-hued timber cottage on our beach being bulldozed and replaced with a three-storey, five-bedroom glass box completely out of proportion with the small beach. It prompted a desire to capture and share the stories of some incredible homes that have been saved and lovingly restored.
So let me introduce you to seven sublime beach houses as seen through the eyes of their intensely visual owners. They all have a story, a past. And their owners have embraced their original havens, in all their imperfections, their simplicity and their quirkiness to create highly individual and, to quote homeowner Sarah Blair, ‘unsuburban’ homes. To ignore the old is to fail to acknowledge the ties that connect us all. There is a movement to return to simplicity, whether retaining and restoring an older home or building a contemporary home in a way kinder to the environment. The more virtual the world and the quicker the pace, the more we are going to want to return to a crafted home. Your home is our story and it’s an ongoing story, so make it last.