A Surfside Sydney Home Among The Clouds

After renovating a house in North Bondi, and a stint living in Byron Bay, Karina Dias Pires and David Hanna were seeking a carefree home to facilitate their move back to Sydney.

‘Our plan was to find a quieter location, walking distance to the beach, [and] we thought that renting would be a good idea before we fully committed to buying in a different suburb,’ explains Karina.

The Surfside House was exactly what the couple and their children were seeking.

Located in Clovelly, this 1930s home had been recently transformed in a renovation designed by Andrew Burges Architects. What was a ‘warren of dark rooms’ was transformed into a contemporary home, exploiting the site’s elevated position.

The architects describe the updated ‘upside down’ plan as an extension of the stepped climb up from Clovelly beach, which gradually climbs out of the containment of coastal banksia vegetation, to reach the home’s living room above the treeline.

It was this living room view — framed by a large window— that Karina and David were most attracted to about the property.

‘The oversized glass windows upstairs bring a sense of ‘living in the clouds’ and being surrounded by nature,’ says Karina.

‘We enjoy the ocean and garden views, and at night, when we turn all the lights off, the sky and the stars feel so close. You will often catch me or one of the children, sitting by the large window sill looking at the sunset, dreaming away.’

Behind its pre-weathered recycled hardwood cladding and aluminium windows, the renovated house reveals a robust yet calming palette of painted brick and timber.

In styling the home, Karina has opted to keep space clutter-free to let the materials speak for themselves.

She explains, ‘As my work involves a lot of visual stimulation as a creative director, art curator and photographer, at home I prefer to allow a sense of space for the mind and body to rest, having only key furniture pieces and objects.

‘I enjoy living with less, it allows for more headspace and moments of connection and interaction at home.’

The one exception is Karina’s beloved book collection, which features in almost every room and adds colour to the space.

Karina believes the most important element of any home is the emotional response it elicits — a sentiment that’s documented in her own book, Artists at Home, which captures the creative spaces of 32 artists in Australia.

Through her work, Karina has learned comfort, warmth, connections to nature, and spaces for family interaction take precedent over the more superfluous details.

‘For me, a home is much more about the atmosphere you create,’ she says.

‘I am always more attracted to how comfortable a sofa is than how it looks, (but if I can have both, I will take it!)’

The Surfside House taps into both, ultimately resulting in a peaceful place for Karina and her family to retreat to each day.

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