Think an all-white interior is boring? This coastal home proves white walls can be warm, welcoming and utterly unique
Meet + Greet
Kylie Hinds, 45 (founder of jewellery line Not Heidi), Paul Hinds, 45 (investor), Jasmine, 16, Holly, 14, and Jameson, 11, plus Diego the dog.
For Kylie and Paul Hinds, creating a house they loved was all about that special feeling you get when you’ve finally come home. After moving from Queensland to Sydney 21 years ago, the couple settled in Coogee, Sydney, and immediately felt like they’d found their place. “We love the relaxed, chilled-out vibe here,” says Kylie. “We bought our first, semi-detached home up the hill near Randwick and lived there for three years while we had our first two children.”
Going from a couple to a family of four in such a short period meant it was soon time to start house-hunting again. However, the solution to their problem came in an unexpected package. Paul went for a jog one day and came home to tell Kylie he’d found their new home – a quirky little 1970s cottage. “It wasn’t love at first sight for me, but Paul loved the position,” Kylie says. “We went to the auction and, before we knew it, we were moving into this cottage with mirrored walls, cork flooring, red velvet cupboard doors and swinging saloon doors.”
The catch? The house needed work, and lots of it. “We bought it knowing that we would need to knock it down and rebuild to make the most of the space, light and views,” Kylie says.
After living there for eight years (and having their third child, Jameson), the couple opted not to rebuild but to start afresh, demolishing the weatherboard cottage to create their dream beach home. By making use of the site’s best attributes – sunlight and sparkling water views – their new home is a haven for the entire family.
When it came to designing their brand-new home, the couple had a clear vision. “We had a very good idea of what we wanted,” says Kylie. “We asked architect Michael Hilliard to go over our plans and fine-tune them. There were also practical issues, such as engineering, to address. The house is at the bottom of an old sand dune, which meant water would seep down and sit behind our walls. By rebuilding with drainage tunnels behind our walls, we eliminated the damp issues that came with the original house. We were also able to create internal access to the house from the garage.”
For this complex project, which included stability concerns stemming from the property’s sandy substrate, simply getting to the building stage was an enormous challenge. “Getting the build started was probably the most frustrating part,” says Kylie. “We had to have a team put down concrete piers – in some spots nine metres below the ground. We also had to temporarily insert walers, which are big steel rods, under our neighbours’ land to help support the houses around us until our slabs were poured. It was a massive operation, but worth it when the surveyors found that the neighbours’ houses hadn’t budged even a millimetre!”
The white choice
Once the build was finally under way, Kylie’s thoughts turned to decorating and living in her dream home, and there was only one colour on her paint palette: white. “It’s such a timeless, calming colour,” she says. “We used Dulux ‘Vivid White’ throughout, except on a couple of the south-facing walls, where we used Dulux ‘Natural White’, as the ‘Vivid White’ was a little cool on those walls. I can easily get a colour hit by throwing a rug or cushion in when I need it. The best thing is everything matches. I can move anything anywhere in the house and it looks good!”
The home’s visible beams and archways lend themselves perfectly to this all-white scheme as they add form and interest to its monochrome surfaces. But it took time for Kylie and Paul to know where those details should go.
“I’ve always loved beams, arches, Indian doors and other interesting elements, but was wary of going too far,” Kylie says.
“We thought it best to start with a blank canvas and see what areas needed something interesting, and which areas were better left clean and modern. So the builders have been back a few times to change doors, put in ceiling beams, create arches and add wood panelling. We’re so happy we took our time to decide where to add these features.”
Custom joinery continues the laidback look. Bench seating, sofas and shelving keep the floor clear of clutter. “We don’t have much furniture, as most of it is built in,” says Kylie. “There’s always someone sprawled out on the bench seat by the table, even when we aren’t eating. It [the kitchen-dining area] has really become the heart of our house.”
Now that the gruelling 18-month build is over, the family adore their new, custom-built home, especially its surprise factor. “The house has a fairly plain, modern facade that blends in with other homes in the area, but when you enter, the whole northern side opens up onto gardens,” says Kylie.
Adding yet another surprise is a thatch-roofed beach hut (pictured above) that was inspired by a trip to Bali. “We had a spot in the garden that wasn’t getting used much, so we thought it would be the perfect place to add a lounging area,” says Kylie.
The family of five love their light, bright home which suits its seaside location so perfectly. And if you’re wondering if Kylie ever longs for colour, the answer is: she doesn’t need to. “I’m obsessed with Moroccan and Turkish rugs,” she says. “They’re great for a subtle colour hit in an all-white house.”
Sculptural greenery creates contrast with white surfaces and provides a connection to the outdoors.
Add layers of texture with natural materials such as wood, shell, wool and jute to lend warmth and interest.
Statement lighting brings drama to a white space. Try a chandelier or beaded lightshade.
Different parts of the room reflect light differently. A white on the ceiling will look darker than the same colour on the wall because it reflects less light. Use a half or quarter strength of your wall colour on the ceiling to ensure the two are well balanced.
Shop the look
Kenza rug, $829, from Freedom. Gati Grinder coffee table, $399, from Exotic Imports. Teak bench, $199, from Parnell & Co. African beaded lampshade, $420, from Indie Home Collective.
Words by: Hande Renshaw and Sally Conor. Photography by: Maree Homer. Styling by: Sarah Ellison and Hande Renshaw.