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A Tropical Family Retreat In The Northern Rivers

Homes

Every day feels like a holiday in the home of Cheryl and James Kitchener! 

The couple purchased this ‘80s property in Suffolk Park, located six kilometres from Byron Bay, for its retro feel, privacy, and connection to the garden. 

Subsequent renovations have enhanced these features and more, resulting in the ultimate tropical retreat… just steps from the beach!

3rd November, 2021

The epic exterior of Cheryl and James Kitchener’s Suffolk Park home! Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Sun streams through into the sunken lounge. Coffee table by Sarah Ellison. Lounge from HK Living. Stools from DesignByThem. Living room rug from Armadillo. Runner rug in kitchen from Pampa. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Lights from Lighting Collective. Stools from DesignByThem. Runner rug in kitchen from Pampa. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

The glass sliding doors, patchwork stone fireplace feature wall and slanted ceiling have serious 70s vibes! Stone from Eco Outdoor. Coffee table by Sarah Ellison. Lounge from HK Living. Stools from DesignByThem. Living room rug from Armadillo. Cushion from Pampa. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Chairs by Sarah Ellison. Table by Alex Bennett Design. Prints by Bobby Clark. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

The kitchen featuring ABI Interiors tap, lights from Lighting Collective, and rug from Pampa. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Furniture (chairs, couch and coffee table) from Sarah Ellison. Ceramics and rug from Nikau. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Furniture (chairs, couch and coffee table) from Sarah Ellison. Ceramics and rug from Nikau. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Art by Octavia Tomyn. Furniture (chairs, couch and coffee table) from Sarah Ellison. Ceramics and rug from Nikau. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Left: Tiles from Surface Society. Ceramics and custom lights from Nikau. Mirror from Tigmi Trading. Tapwear from ABI Interiors. Right: Pendants from Pop & Scott. Throw from Citta. Linen from Sheet Society. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Looking into the sitting room wing of the house from the outdoors. Stone from Eco Outdoor. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

A very good tropical situation. Stone from Eco Outdoor. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Palm fronds shade the entrance to the house. Stone from Eco Outdoor. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

A spectacular cross section of the intersecting wings and indoor-outdoor living arrangement. Photo – Anna Hutchcroft.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 3rd November 2021

‘It’s built around a courtyard with windows all connecting to outdoor spaces, which isn’t common around here, and why we fell in love with it.’ – Cheryl Kitchener

After eight years and three home renovations in the centre of Byron Bay, Cheryl and James Kitchener made the move just south to quieter Suffolk Park with their children Indiana (7), Zalia (5), and Ember (1) in 2020. 

The family had been driving past this 1980s home for years, recognising it as something quite different with plenty of potential. The previous owner had also built the home, and Cheryl and James could feel the love he’d put into the entire property. 

‘It’s built around a courtyard with windows all connecting to outdoor spaces, which isn’t common around here, and why we fell in love with it,’ says Cheryl.

The home’s ‘retro vibes’ with original cedar beams became the inspiration for the renovation and extension encompassing a new kitchen, sunken lounge, outdoor bathroom, and two more bedrooms.

‘We used loads of timber, spotted gum panelling, cedar joinery, and natural stone tiles in the bathrooms to create a retro feel that felt timeless and warm,’ says Cheryl.

The home’s styling adopts this same theme, introducing late century-inspired pieces by Sarah Ellison, set against a backdrop of rich timber, textured stone, and Dulux White Polar Quarter

Communal areas open directly to the backyard (reminiscent of a tropical island resort!), complete with a new pool, mature palm trees, fire pit, built-in lounge, and other lush foliage. This outlook is Cheryl’s favourite element of the home, and a welcome contrast to the more sheltered interiors.

‘Being Canadian, I wanted a cosy, warm, cabin-like feel but also wanted the Australian connection to the outdoors that highlighted our tropical, private and lush courtyard gardens,’ she explains. ‘I love that I can see the kids easily and how much natural light the house gets.’ 

Cheryl worked with Henman Designs and Space Built on the renovation, as well as several local artists, furniture makers who she credits for bringing the project to life.

What a stunner! 

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net