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The Breezy, Coastal Family Home Of A Designer + Restaurateur

At Home With Sheridan

The events of the past two years have spurred countless sea (and tree) changes for many Australians, but Interior Designer Xanthe Highfield and her husband, restaurateur Sam Clayton (of Woy Woy Fishermens Wharf) were way ahead of this trend!

The creative couple moved from Sydney to Avoca on the NSW Central Coast in 2015. Here, with their two young Children Ace (8) and Clover (5), they’re living the quintessentially Australian coastal life; surrounded by nature, a mix of old and new furniture, art and treasured objects, and soft furnishings by Sheridan.

8th November, 2022

Designer Xanthe Highfield at home in Avoca Beach. Sheridan Abbotson sham pillowcases and bedcover in cactus. Painting above bed by Xanthe’s late father, Robert Highfield. Bedside lamp by We Ponder. Xanthe wears Abbotson linen robe in julip. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sheridan Abbotson linen including sham pillowcases and bedcover in cactus. Painting above bed by Xanthe’s late father, Robert Highfield. Candles by Twinkling Tabletops.  Bedside lamp by We Ponder. Bedside table made by Sam using reclaimed wharf piers from his restaurant, Woy Woy Fishermens Wharf. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sheridan Abbotson linen including sham pillowcases and bedcover in cactus. Painting above bed by Xanthe’s late father, Robert Highfield. Candles by Twinkling Tabletops.  Bedside lamp by We Ponder. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sheridan Abbotson linen including sham pillowcases and bedcover in cactus. Painting above bed by Xanthe’s late father, Robert Highfield. Candles by Twinkling Tabletops.  Bedside lamp by We Ponder. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sofa by Wattle Living. Stanfield Breakfast Cushion in buff and Mullerton Throw in butternut, both from Sheridan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

The bright, open plan living space. Sofa by Wattle Living. Stanfield Breakfast Cushion in buff and Ferran Square Cushion in sungold, both from Sheridan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

The bright, open plan living space. Sofa by Wattle Living. Stanfield Breakfast Cushion in buff, Ferran Square Cushion in sungold and and Mullerton Throw in butternut, all from Sheridan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Xanthe aimed to create a relaxed, robust home that would ‘not be too precious’. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

View from hallway through to kitchen. Modular sofa by Wattle Living. Mullerton Throw in butternut from Sheridan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

The dining space looks out to towering trees on all sides. Vintage dinging table and chairs, candles by Twinkling Tabletops. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Vintage dining table and chairs, candles by Twinkling Tabletops. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

The living and dining space adjoins a generous outdoor deck. Sofa by Wattle Living. Stanfield Breakfast Cushion in buff and Ferran Square Cushion in sungold, both from Sheridan. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

The perfect ‘mud room’ area dumping ground at the front door. From left – Sheridan Pepin Kids Beach Towel in red glaze, and Sunsy Beach Towel in multi, and tote bag packaging from Sheridan Summer Holiday Kids Fitted Sheet Set. Cushions – Abbotson Breakfast Cushion in cactus, and Sterwell Cushion in tangerine. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sheridan Luxury Egyptian Handtowel in dew. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Xanthe Highfield at home. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Xanthe, Sam, Ace and Clover enjoy their leafy backyard. On railing – Sheridan Pepin Kids Beach Towel in red glaze and tangerine. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Xanthe, Sam, Ace and Clover at home. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Sheridan Pepin Kids Beach Towels in red glaze and tangerine. Photo – Eve Wilson, Styling – Lucy Feagins, Stylist Assistant – Georgie Rose.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 8th November 2022

‘I’ve always admired people’s homes that tell a story of their life… filled with pieces that they have found over time, rather than bought all at once.’ – Xanthe Highfield.

With family connections to the Central Coast region of NSW, Interior Designer Xanthe Highfield and her husband, restaurateur Sam Clayton (of Woy Woy Fishermens Wharf) spent the better part of 2015 house hunting in this area, before taking the big leap and moving their family here permanently.

‘When I saw the place it was the first home I wanted,’ Xanthe recalls. ‘The backyard was so big and felt rambling, and it was a walk to the beach. No one else bid on it so we lucked out!’

After securing the charming but run-down property, the pair had some work to do. They initially moved in, and spent some time getting to know the place and making plans for a future renovation. Then, they moved out, and rented it out for a few years whilst living above Sam’s restaurant, to save money for the necessary upgrades! Eventually, after undertaking renovations in late 2020, the family (with kids Ace, now 8, and Clover, now 5) moved back in for good.

A key driver of the renovation was to make the home more energy efficient. ‘It was a really cold house, so we insulated underfloor, walls and ceiling,’ Xanthe explains. The re-design also opened up the home to the morning sun, via double glazed windows/sliding doors, and the addition of a generous deck adjoining the living area and main bedroom. They also covered the roof with solar panels – another fortuitous forward-thinking investment!

The couple worked with architect James Fraser on the re-design, with breezy, coastal-inspired interiors designed by Xanthe, and the upgrades were completed in record time by builder eBuild and Consult. All up, the renovation took just six months.

When it came to the interiors, Xanthe approached the design with a sense of restraint.

‘As I mainly work in hospitality design (at Fabric Architecture), my brain is filled with vibrant and varying references and styles all the time. I wanted a home that didn’t compete with the visual noise, and felt natural and timeless,’ she explains.

The result is a joyful, relaxed home that sits comfortably within its natural surroundings. The interiors seem to spill out onto the deck, framed by a backdrop of towering trees that can be seen from almost every room in the house. In the main bedroom, this lush green view is complemented by Abbotson bed linen from Sheridan, in the perfect shade of ‘cactus’.

‘The Sheridan bed linen is a soft green that ties in the layered views of trees over the mountains, my favorite part of the home,’ Xanthe says. ‘They have a soft organic feel that creates a calmness, which was exactly what we wanted for the bedroom’. Above the bed, a sentimental painting by her late father, Robert Highfield, depicts a serene ocean scene.

Interestingly, Xanthe has actively avoided the idea of creating a ‘finished’ home. ‘I’ve always admired people’s homes that tell a story of their life,’ she muses. ‘A home that is filled with pieces that they have found over time and curated, rather than bought all at once.’

This sentiment is echoed in the family’s mix of old and new pieces, furniture handmade from salvaged materials, and artwork by friends and family. On surfaces and shelves, the ephemera of family life is on display – kids creations, seedpods and beach-scavenged treasures sit happily alongside pieces by local creatives – such as decorative candles from Twinkling Tabletops (Xanthe’s ‘latest love’), and her prized possession, a paper owl sculpture made by her cousin, artist Anna Wili-Highfield.

For Xanthe and Sam, home is a sanctuary. ‘Especially after covid I think the whole world realised the importance of creating a home you love to be in,’ Xanthe says. ‘When I come into our home, I feel calmer. It feels like an escape.’

Shop Sheridan’s latest products at Sheridan Boutiques, sheridan.com.au, David Jones and Myer.

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