Here in Australia, we have our own unique beach-house style that has evolved over the years, moving from early cottages scattered along our beautiful coastline to modern, contemporary headland homes. So how do you get that laid-back and carefree Aussie beach house on your home? Here are our tips.
Beachside colour inspiration
Think of the ocean, sun and sand; these should be your inspiration.
Coastal beach house colours are usually muted, natural shades of soft grey, sandy yellow, bleached white, pastel green and dusty blue, reflecting their seaside surrounds.
Once you have your colour scheme, you can add chalky white details to windows, doors, pergolas and eaves brings a beachy softness to the exterior of a house. Bring in stronger accent colours with accessories, beach towels, pot plants, chairs and even a surfboard.
An impressive entrance
Queensland beach houses are usually built to accommodate people with active lifestyles. This means a grab it-and-go approach to getting out of the house and on to the beach or into the surf. Whether working with a narrow hallway or something more grand, Australian beach house homeowners make the most of the entry space by providing a space to hang hats, towels, beach bags and anything else they might need to take with them or conversely ditch as they walk inside.
Reminiscent of the iconic zinc anti-sun cream Australians grew up having plastered all over their faces, beach-style tongue-and-groove panelling painted in chalky white is popular and works particularly well in entrances and down halls, and is very common in Queenslander style homes.
Add natural touches to living areas
Beach houses traditionally use natural materials and textures to create a beachy style in the main living areas of a home, but there are a few items that are typically Australian. This could be native hardwood tree trunk stools, upholstery with Australian native flora and fauna motifs or fine wool throws for cool evenings. Other more generic items include, untreated or recycled polished timber floorboards, sisal or jute rugs that can stand up to sand and foot traffic, rustic timbers, bamboo features, textured linens and natural cottons.
Just remember whatever you choose, you can’t be too precious about your finishes in the living space of a beach house if you have family to consider. Children are going to sit on the sofa with wet swimmers on, so make sure you can remove the covers or move the furniture into the sun to dry. Go with natural timbers for your main furniture pieces to keep the look consistent.
Relaxed kitchen style
Australian beach-house living is relaxed and laid-back and this should be reflected in the kitchen. Make yours light, airy and practical with a neutral palette and perhaps incorporated highlights of natural timber for cabinetry. For the walls, it’s as simple as adding slatted cladding with a v-style groove.
Create an inviting bedroom
It is easy to find sumptuous natural linen bedding and accessories, perfect for a relaxed beach-themed room. Scour second hand shops and the internet for vintage quilts to add some quirkiness and colour. Add bright coloured accessories just don’t go overboard – choose only one or two items to put against a more natural scheme.
Beautiful calm bathrooms
After a day at the beach, there’s nothing better than washing away the salt, sand and sunscreen in a relaxing bathroom.
The temptation these days is to rip everything out and start again. However, if you have vintage pieces in your home, refurbish them rather than replacing. Retro features add to the Aussie beach-house vibe, as many such houses were built in the ’50s and ’60s. So just reglaze and resurface sinks and tubs to freshen up these hardworking pieces.
Natural timber cladding from Australian timbers, combined with rectangular white tiles, lends a natural and relaxed coastal feel to this bathroom, bringing the outdoors in.
A simple neutral palette is a winner when it comes to beach houses, particularly those that sit in a lush garden or coastal setting that features plants typical to the area. Let the natural surrounds, plentiful light and blue sky be the heroes of the scheme if you are designing your dream beach house from scratch. Australian architects favour lots of to let in light. And, if you’re lucky enough to have views, they’ll want to open up the space to make the most of them. Lots of glass and multi-purpose bi-fold or sliding doors will bring the natural light in as well as fresh, cooling breezes from the ocean.
Don’t forget cladding
Corrugated iron is quintessentially Australian and can be used to add practical and aesthetic detailing to a house – or even just to a shed, roof or fence. It’s sustainable, lightweight, strong and durable, and has a proud history in Australian coastal architecture.
The beachside garden needs to be stocked with robust plants, able to withstand the coastal elements. Think palms, agaves, yuccas and Australian beachside pandanus tree. These plants are well suited to full-sun locations.
Native species in particular do really well in the harsh coastal environment. Add some concrete planters, old lobster pots and some worn and weathered timber or driftwood to enhance the laid-back style.
Store it away
Beachside living can involve lots of toys and gadgets, and they all need a home. Make sure you have ample storage for your boards, wetsuits, goggles, snorkels, buckets and spades, beach umbrellas and bikes.
This can be as simple as a rack hidden away under an eave, or as sophisticated as a weather-proof shed complete with shelves to store board wax and sunscreen, along with hooks and rails to hang towels, wetsuits and more.
Nothing screams ‘I’m at the beach!’ more than throwing your towel onto a hook and rinsing the sand off under an outdoor shower. It’s a really practical idea too – who needs to be sweeping up sand when it can be easily rinsed off outside?
TIP: Make sure you can access the outdoor shower from the street. If you don’t have side or rear entry to your home, the shower will need to be out the front or you’ll still be trekking sand through the house.
Invest in stylish outdoor living
The trend for outdoor entertaining in Queensland’s beautiful climate is never more apparent than when you’re at a beach house. Although there isn’t a lot of difference between Australian decor for outdoor entertaining areas and those in other Western countries, there is a certain colour and style made famous overseas by Australian landscape designer Jamie Durie that incorporates some of the elements of our own region of south-east Asia into the generally laid-back look.