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Decus Interiors creates the most unbeachy beach house

Decus Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Sydney creates a sophisticated yet unconventional beach house on the NSW Central Coast, writes Andrew Conway.

Question: When is a beach house not a beach house? Answer: When it’s in the very capable hands of Alexandra Donohoe Church, founder and managing director of Sydney-based Decus Interiors and her team of highly creative designers.

The brief from the clients – a couple and their adult son seeking a retreat from their busy lives in Sydney – was threefold: design a home where they could entertain regularly, reference their love of travel and reflect the magnificent coastal setting.

But there’s little straightforward about this sophisticated yet unconventional, elegant yet relaxed, stylish yet innately comfortable home. “We intended to make this beach house as ‘unbeachy’ as possible,” says Donohoe Church.

Designer lighting and dramatic countertops in the kitchen
Get the look: Counter stone, ‘Concordia’ honed Artedomus
A reading nook
Get the look: Armchairs, Vintage French Mulholland Chair Sourced from L.A.

The project was a blank canvas from the start. A gently sloping plot in breezy Killcare on the NSW Central Coast was home to a quintessential (but unliveable) beach shack that sadly had to be demolished to make way for the new build.

The north-facing block is about 1.5 hours from Sydney in Bouddi National Park. It enjoys almost-uninterrupted panorama of beach, wilderness and ocean, which had to be central to the finished home.

Decus Interiors worked closely with architect-builder Square Design to marry the characteristics of European historic houses with relaxed Australian coastal comfort. They stamped their signature across the project: luxurious but liveable, with texture and practicality.

Decus Interiors beach house
Get the look: Sun lounger, Tribu ‘Mood’ Cosh Living

The design brief

“There’s a sense of free-flowing space throughout the house with many rooms bathed in natural light,” says Donohoe Church. “Then we set out to balance these spaces with a rich palette and unexpected, intimate nooks.”

“Using a calm base palette, we addressed the balance of space and light, introducing sophistication through layering even richer colours and textured materials,” she adds. “It was also important to reflect the clients’ interest in antiques and vintage pieces collected from their travels.”

A key design focus was to integrate and maximise the breathtaking dual vista. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows were strategically placed to ensure a flood of natural light into the main living spaces, while providing a seamless flow and connection to the open-air entertaining and pool area.

Decus Interiors beach house
Get the look: Dining table, Custom Original Finish; Dining chairs, Knoll ‘Saarinen’ Dedece
Bijoux powder room features a dramatic stone basin
Get the look: Basin stone, ‘Breccia Nero’ Artedomus

The unexpected abounds: a bijoux powder room with dramatic Breccia Nera stone layered on a custom-designed vanity, accessed via a hidden door set within the library joinery; an uber-cool ‘speakeasy’ bar concealed behind another secret door.

There’s something intangible but powerful about injecting a little tension and the unexpected into every design,” says Donohoe Church. “We love the beauty in layering and the nuances of textures and materiality. These elements convey great richness to a space.”

About Decus Interiors

Decus Interiors was founded in 2009 and is now a team of 10 designers working across architecture, interiors and procurement. They are featured in glossy home design magazines worldwide, and was the proud recipient of a 2020 Australian Interior Design Award in the ‘Best of State’ category for another coastal home in Western Australia. “What I love about our studio is that we all work hand-in-hand,” concludes Donohoe Church. “Everyone touches each project in some way throughout the process.”

The Decus Interiors beach house features antiques from the owners’ travels
Get the look: Stone mantle, Sourced by the owners on an overseas trip

This article originally appeared in volume 38 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. Subscribe to the latest issue today.

Lead image: Get the Decus Interiors beach house look: Living room sofa: Living Divani ‘Neo Wall’ Dedece; Coffee table: Custom design by Decus Interiors JP Finsbusy; Rug: ‘Winter Nightsky’ Robyn Cosgrove

All images © Anson Smart

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