December 1, 2022
Feature Homes

Bold and beautiful

The muse for this Somerton Park home was nature itself, taking inspiration from the owners’ love of the outdoors.

In this Somerton Park street stretching to the ocean, each home has its own distinctive character.

A delightful mixture of modern and traditional exteriors face each other in this quiet avenue of the otherwise bustling suburb.

A wonderful community exists here, according to Maria Coote, who moved into the street with her husband James two-and-a-half years ago.

“The ladies in the street have a Christmas party each year and it’s very friendly,” Maria says.

“A lot of people have been here for 40 years and it’s a fun, warm and positive place to live.”

The informal ground floor kitchen, which looks out to the pool, is great for guests or poolside entertaining.

The fact that Maria and James ended up in such an ideal spot comes down to more than luck. They’d lived in the area for 25 years and spent a lot of time searching for that perfect location, even renting in a nearby street to see if it was the one for them.

But when this particular parcel came up as a home and land package from builder LJ Homes, they knew they’d found their place. While it came with a pre-designed house, it is nothing if not unique, thanks to the talents of interior designer Sarah McInerney.

After a couple of years living in the space with minimal furniture or design elements, Sarah – who was recommended by one of Maria’s friends whom she had worked for at Studio Nine Architects -– helped the couple with a retro-fit to make the space punchier.

Sarah took on the project enthusiastically and was encouraged to express her creativity, with the Cootes open to ideas.

“Having Sarah here was great. It really meant the finishes were much more what we wanted,” Maria says.

“We wanted a kind of earthy contemporary look.”

The open living, dining and kitchen area upstairs features pieces from Terrace Floors + Furnishings, Domo and Poliform.

Organic materials create the theme of nature in the home. Travertine is used both inside and outside the home – in silver by the pool and almond milk beside the staircase.

Along the hallway, artwork created by a friend James went to medical school with lines the wall. The pieces by Sally Parnis depict the Flinders Ranges and were painted directly onto plywood.

It’s a familiar scene for the couple, who enjoy camping and outback travel, and wanted to bring that into the home.

An earthy-toned painting by First Nations artist Verna Lawrie from Koonibba on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula, helps to create a colour palette in the entryway.

The painting links Maria to her birthplace, Ceduna, where her German cray fisherman father found work.

The burnt reds in the piece inspired the bold carpet choice for the stairway. Maria admits it’s not something she would have chosen – a more subdued neutral would have suited her – but with encouragement from Sarah, she went for it and can see now it was a great choice.

“James and Sarah both loved the colour of the carpet and I didn’t. But now it’s laid down, I can see it goes with the artwork and the wallpaper.

“James likes those really bold colours, whereas I tend toward the more pastel tones.”

Yet another daring element was the Gucci Glade wallpaper, which dominates the entry and top floor.

The retro-fitting included the wallpaper and a brass trim beneath it, created by Tom Golin of George Street Studios.

“It was my idea to put wallpaper up there because we couldn’t agree on art and Sarah chose this with us,” Maria says.

“It’s quite bold and there’s a lot of it. It’s not something I would ever have had the confidence to choose myself so that’s why having Sarah was so great.”

The master bedroom’s sweeping north-facing windows keep it warm in winter. The room includes the natural elements seen throughout the home, as well as a decorative screen, designed by the home’s interior designer, Sarah McInerney.

Featuring a lush green landscape, the wallpaper extends upstairs, into in the lounge space, as well as in the powder nook and inside the lift.

The open living, dining and kitchen area looks out to a balcony with ocean views – something the couple takes advantage of most mornings.

“We often sit out here and have breakfast. It’s lovely in the morning and beautiful at sunset. You can see out to the hills on the other side and there are all the lights of the suburbs at night.”

In the living space, cushions and ottomans feature printed cotton velvet fabrics from Pierre Frey, vibrantly decorated with flora and fauna.

With their old house went their old furniture too – there was no place for the traditional pieces in their new, contemporary home.

For the new space, they’ve invested in furniture that has personality of its own, while still relating to its surroundings.

They did manage to repurpose a piece when they redecorated; a lounge from Early Settler was reupholstered in dove grey, a perfect softener against the vivacious prints.

In the dining space, the Emmanuel Gallina Concorde table from Poliform in Melbourne features shark-nose edging that has been perfectly matched with the edging on the Arabescato marble kitchen island benchtop by the stonemason at Stonecraft. A walnut shelving unit from Domo stretches across the wall, exhibiting a beautiful collection of ceramic and glass pieces, many of which were sourced from JamFactory.

Stone used on the property’s exterior was mirrored inside the home. The balcony is the couple’s favourite spot for a relaxing breakfast with an ocean view, while the basement six-car garage is perfect for storing their camping gear.

Even on cooler days, all it takes is a little bit of sun to warm their bedroom – one of Maria’s must-haves.

“The house we came from was old and massive. It was freezing,” Maria says.

“I said to James that when we get another house, I don’t want to be cold again. I don’t want to have to wear a puffer jacket to cross the hall.”

Outside, the north-facing pool area is sheltered from coastal breezes and is the perfect place to soak up winter sun, making it somewhere to get fresh air all year round. A downstairs kitchen and living area looking out to the pool makes casual summer entertaining easy. The spare bedrooms are also on the ground floor, giving guests their own private space when they come to stay.

And it’s certainly a spot that’s in demand with visitors. “We go for a walk on the beach usually twice a day and there are fishermen, people kayaking, people on their boards and kids playing in the sand,” Maria says

“It’s such a lovely place to be and it’s great to finally have the house how we want it.

“It’s bespoke; we didn’t want it to look like a display home. We wanted our own personalities to be reflected in the house and we feel like we’ve finally got there.”

Subscribe Today! Subscribe to South Australia's biggest-selling magazine, showcasing the best of Adelaide and South Australia. From only $9 per issue
including free delivery to your door.
Share —