A new-age beach shack with a seventies vibe on the NSW south coast provides the perfect recipe for relaxation for a Canberra family.

Too many cooks can spoil the broth. But sometimes an unexpected ingredient can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Peter and Karen Sarris’s beach house, located in Broulee on the New South Wales south coast, is such a recipe. TT Architecture worked on its architectural design; Karen dealt with the interior design; while Peter threw his creative vision into the mix.

“Although we hadn’t worked with Tony Trobe [from TT Architecture] before, we were impressed by his obvious style,” Peter recalls. “We knew what we wanted and modelled the house on the colourful beach change rooms in Melbourne and timber lake houses in New Zealand. We previously had a holiday house located further south, but wanted something a bit more relaxed and easy to maintain.”

The result is a glorified beach shack complete with weatherboards, high pitched roof and seventies retro vibe. Passers-by can’t help but notice its colourful facade from the street, while inside it retains a cosy, intimate feel with all the trappings.

“Our favourite room in the house is the front deck,” Peter says. “It allows us to watch the world go by. It’s a great space, almost European, and we can open it up or close it on a whim. It’s where we get together and play games with the kids or entertain friends.”

Peter, Karen and their three children Portia (14), Taylia (15) and Zak (eight) live in Canberra, but frequent their coastal home as much as possible. “I grew up coming to the coast almost every summer,” Peter says. “Broulee is a haven for kids with so many surfing and swimming options nearby.

Our proximity to the beach gives our kids freedom. We don’t need the car once we arrive,” he adds. But it was not always this good. When they first purchased the property, it featured a decrepit fibro riddled with asbestos. “Our original intention was to keep the house simple and renovate,” Peter explains, “but it ended up being a knock-down job.”

This couple’s new three-bedroom home could not be further from the original. It now features two peaked pavilions. The smaller of the two houses cars and weekend hardware such as surfboards, snorkelling gear and bikes. It also features a loft space — an afterthought that’s a huge success. This is where this couple’s children like to hang out with friends or enjoy their own space. “The loft was one of those on-the-spot creative ideas that really worked,” Peter admits. “We had a terrific builder who was happy to follow such twists and turns as we went along.”

The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.1. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

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Words Siobhan O’Brien
Photography Lisa McKelvie