Beachside Haven

A Beachside Haven to Retire to in Style


This rural family will be set to retire in style in their coastal forever home, which evolved from a dilapidated cottage into a beachside haven.

A comfortable beachside cottage that offers relaxed liveability by the sea is the latest architectural triumph presented to Grand Designs Australia. With retirement looming on the not-too-distant horizon, these empty nesters wanted to eventually relocate from their sprawling farm outside Geraldton to their beachside abode that was in dire need of renovation.

Having lived on rambling acreage, a strong indoor-outdoor connection was important to the clients. Aesthetically, they were looking for an organic space that had earthy elements, concrete and timber coupled with matt black tones. In the renovated cottage, native silvertop ash cladding, native blackbutt timber veneer, concrete off-form walls and ceilings and polished floors feature.


Kyle Stacey, director of architecture firm Stack Design, says there was a high level of trust established between them and the owners. “The clients provided Stack with a great deal of freedom and trust to create a form that reflected a contemporary Australian aesthetic, yet was still respectful of the existing streetscape,” he says.

Being able to readily access a spacious courtyard was one of the most crucial elements. The clients also wanted a home in which living spaces and the master bedroom and ensuite were on the ground floor. Upstairs there are two guest bedrooms, a kitchenette and bathroom, affording ample space and privacy for family and friends to stay. A ground-floor study can also be converted into an additional bedroom when required. Upstairs, a roof terrace offers another space to connect with the outdoors in a relaxed setting.

With the need for only one car, and on-street parking readily available, a second tilt-panel door clad in silvertop ash battens can be opened up to cleverly extend the courtyard space.

When arriving home, the first thing the owners do is open the stacker doors of the living spaces to a sun-drenched central north-facing courtyard. It’s not so much as inviting the outdoors in, but rather blurring the lines between indoors and out. By arranging the roof terrace, courtyard and flexible garage space to connect to each other, Stack has doubled the size of the courtyard area from 41sqm to 82sqm.

The owners enjoy entertaining, so it was important there was ample space to host barbecues and get-togethers and this design has certainly accommodated that. Kyle had an already established relationship with the clients, having stayed in the existing cottage over the years. He also grew up on a farm and intrinsically understood the need for open expansive places. He is quick to point out that doesn’t necessarily mean huge expanses of land. “It’s more about the collection of small experiences and elements that make up the atmosphere that isolation within a huge environment brings,” he explains.

In this design, there is much to explore that appeals to the senses. The kitchen is a masterstroke of innovation and good design, with a 6m-long skylight inviting in warm welcoming sunlight. Windows would have impacted on the privacy of a neighbouring property. A low iron mirrored splashback reflects light around the space. The contemporary bathrooms are light-filled and exude warmth and comfort, a concrete vanity top and integrated basin working well with the warmth of the cabinetry timber.

Holistically, the cottage pays homage to the contemporary Australian lifestyle; there’s ample space for friends and family to gather and quiet spaces to retreat to. There is comfort and tactile raw materials that connect to the earth. Kyle adds that the design also respects the surrounding dwellings. “Using gable roof elements that faced the immediate streetscape tipped the hat to the pitched roof forms of the surrounding cottages while pushing the contemporary upper-storey elements back from the streetscape,” he explains.

With forward planning and thinking, the homeowners will be set for retirement with their forever home ready to meet their needs when the time comes. Kyle says it’s a smart move. “Rather than let it sneak up on them and still be in the existing old cottage, they decided to build the new home now and have it ready for when they decided to hang up their boots,” he shares.

This article originally appeared in Grand Designs volume 11.1