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See how a coastal chic look and feel was created in this Oamaru home

Interior designer Annabel Berry has a pool of talent to draw from at her coastal chic home in Oamaru

Meet & greet
Annabel (creative director of Design Federation) and Simon Berry (managing director of Whitestone Cheese), Mia, 10, Jackson, nine, and Boe, seven, plus dogs Tessa and Wicket.

It’s actually impossible to believe Annabel Berry’s Oamaru home is the same one we featured back in 2016. Structurally, the house is the same – apart from the addition of a pool house and studio/guest accommodation; we’ll come to that later – but the decor is almost unrecognisable. Art has been pared back and moved, statement lightshades switched out, flooring replaced and most rooms boast a new paint palette. But what do you expect from someone who studies colour and interiors all day long?

“What can I say? It’s in my DNA,” Annabel laughs. “Constant change and evolution are part of being a designer. I’d say our home has changed as I have grown as an interior designer over the years, but this current aesthetic is one we really love as a family.”

Annabel and Simon’s renovation kicked off with two poolside additions: a pool house and home studio, both around 25sqm each.

Annabel’s busy design practice had made it increasingly necessary for her to have a place to work from after hours – and being able to do so while supervising kids in the pool was the dream scenario. The neighbouring pool house was created to give the family a stylish space to lounge in out of the sun.

It was important to the couple that both new spaces were multipurpose, so each includes additional accommodation for guests – but in true designer fashion, the beds are not as you’d expect. “With the pool house, we bought split beds so we can push them together to make a king bed or have them apart. I got some covers made by an upholsterer so they act as day beds when they’re not needed as beds,” she explains. “In my home studio, we included a wall bed, which sits behind beautiful duck-egg blue cabinetry. This means we can use the space for yoga or lounging when the bed isn’t in use.”

The pool house
To fit with Annabel’s design brief of “a holiday at home”, she knew she wanted the pool house to be blue and white. “I chose a very pool-inspired colour on the walls to create that cohesion with the outdoors, and used stunning blue and white sheer drapery to create the mood we were looking for.”

The pool-inspired tones carry through to the bathroom, which is a mix of calming blues. “The bathroom was a delight to design. The beautiful fish scale tiles in mid-blue are a combination of all the things I love, as far as colours, materials and shapes go. For functionality, I wanted a vanity that served the purpose of hand washing without the drama of storage, which was not needed – I love the concrete basin that we found. The bathroom backs onto the pool area, so we added a half wall in here to provide additional privacy,” Annabel explains.

A small kitchen allows guests to be self-contained during their stay at the Berry retreat, though Annabel says it’s mostly been used to create poolside happy hour drinks.

The studio
Annabel has a studio and shop in town for her interiors business, Design Federation, but it was important to her that her home studio was just as professional to allow her to be productive when working here. The resulting space is a far cry from the overfl owing dining table she used to work from after hours or during Covid-19 lockdowns.

“I painted it in a biscuity pink to deliver a place of calm and warmth. Because it’s solely my space, I could happily make it feminine and ‘me’. I love this studio – it’s a space that I can retreat to and keep on top of work while still engaging with my children – but it’s also a beautiful space for guests to stay.”

The Berrys are beyond happy with the final result of their two new outdoor additions. “Simon and I are thrilled with both the design and functionality of these two new rooms. We just love every aspect and the spaces totally work for our needs.”

The house renovation
Adding the new poolside rooms caused Annabel and Simon to look at their existing four-bedroom home, considering what they were happy with and what they would like to change to ensure everything flowed as one. “Covid provoked a greater need for us to feel relaxed and on holiday at home so we moved the style of the house from modern vintage to classic coastal,” she explains.

They started by redecorating the kids’ rooms before addressing the rest of the home. The whole renovation took around 18 months and Annabel reveals she focused on four simple things to change the look of her home: paint, panelling, shutters and accessories. “By far the biggest transformation comes with the change of paint and different colours throughout the home. We always talk to our clients about how paint is the most cost effective and best way you can bring personality to your home. Most people are too scared to do it, but as you can see, bringing a fresh palette to your space can be uplifting,” she says.

Using tongue-and-groove wall panelling throughout the home added texture, interest and an instant coastal aesthetic. Annabel introduced the panelling in the lounge, their kitchen island and both pool-side rooms, using it all the way up to the ceiling. White window shutters were next, Annabel’s tried-and-true go-to for achieving a sophisticated Hamptons-style look.

“We specify shutters for many of our clients because they are so beautiful and bring a sense of calm to a space. By installing lovely white timber shutters on our windows we instantly created that holiday vibe,” she says.

Lastly, Annabel indulged in some retail therapy, purchasing items she’d been eyeing up through her interior design work. “With a shop brimming with decor, art, cushions, rugs and other accessories, it’s hard not to get carried away. I have access to the best products and I’m lucky to be able to use these in my home. Most of our artwork is local art – we love supporting local artists, designers, photographers and creators,” she says.

Kids’ rooms
Annabel says the kids’ rooms have naturally evolved as they’ve gotten older but new paint colours elevated them and gave them a look that suited their personalities.

“The children all had a say in their colour choices, which I just tweaked slightly in tone. Don’t be afraid to include your children in the process – while they tend to head towards prime colours, you can adjust the tone to ensure you get an outcome everyone loves.”

The outdoor area
Annabel banished the previous industrial look for something straight out of the Med. “When we did a vision board for the space I kept looking at Mediterranean outdoor spaces as the closest look to what we wanted to achieve. I’m a big believer in always starting with a vision board. Hunt down images of what you like – the process helps you learn what you don’t like, too, which is just as important to know. Look at the images you’ve chosen and recognise the common threads, then get started on sourcing what you need – or find a designer who can deliver this vision for you,” she advises.

The charcoal wall around the fireplace become duck-egg blue, the dark industrial-style drum lightshade is now a breezy rattan shade and the floor has gone from concrete to some very pretty tiles.

“I hunted high and low to find the right ones and was so pleased when we got these. They have to be outdoor-specific tiles to ensure they can withstand the frosts we get here and were hard to find, but we got there and I love the end look.”

Annabel brought in more of that blue-and-white Mediterranean-inspired palette through custom-made outdoor squabs and plastered walls. “Plastering the fireplace wall and painting it Periglacial Blue was one of the best things we did, as it delivered the vision perfectly,” she says.

Future plans
Annabel is thrilled with the results of their coastal chic renovation – for now.

“Now our home naturally fits into the aesthetic that we love as a family. We have very busy lives running two businesses and, with three children, it was important that when we’re home our house feel relaxed and have that holiday feel, which I believe we now have. I am really happy with it all. Our next renovation will be the kitchen – when we recover from this one.”

Words by: Debbie Harrison. Photography by: Rachel Wybrow.

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