May 30, 2024
Feature Homes

Sea change

When their Wayville family home was being renovated, Anna and Tony Evangelou decided to rent an apartment in Glenelg for a family sea change. That experience sparked a total lifestyle rethink, and led the couple to create their luxurious forever home on the beachfront at Hove.

A view from the side of the home shows the incredible beachfront vistas and the external architectural features.

The idea of living by the beach had never even remotely occurred to Anna and Tony Evangelou.

The couple and their three children lived in Wayville and had always loved being on that side of town; close to schools, friends, family and the CBD.

But it was the decision eight years ago to renovate their Wayville property that took life in an unexpected direction for this family of five.

“We had literally let the kids ride their bikes around the house, tear the place apart, so we had to move out to do a gut renovation,” says Anna. “We started looking for a rental property and thought we should stay in the neighbourhood to keep an eye on the house.

“But then we just changed our minds and thought: ‘let’s live somewhere we’ve never lived before’.”

The rooftop entertaining area maximises views and is a favourite spot for the whole family.

That fateful decision sparked a move into a rental apartment at the Glenelg Marina – a sea change that has had a profound effect on the entire family.

“We rented a very simple apartment, but we had the best time,” Anna says. “The kids were young teenagers then and we all embraced the beach lifestyle. We just felt like we had no stress levels, even though we had the same jobs, the kids were going to school. Nothing changed except we didn’t have to drive to the beach.

“It was the calming nature of the beach that was so beautiful.  We had never even contemplated moving to the beach, ever, but that experience changed everything. I barely even checked on the renovation.”

Before the family had even moved back into their newly renovated Wayville home, Tony was already on the hunt for a block of land on the seafront and plans were well underway to create a permanent beachside lifestyle when the time was right.

“When we moved back into Wayville, the kids were all in high school, so we had to wait until they finished school,” Anna says. “Wayville was a brilliant location for the kids at that stage. Our house was the drop-off, pick-up point and we were close to town.

The kitchen, dining and living zones feature a calming, neutral palette, including Muuto pendant lights and rustic stone around the fireplace (Allstone Arctic Blend). The real star here, though, is that view.

“So, it was a lot to give up – a beautiful newly renovated home in such a great location, so if we were going to move, we wanted to go for absolute beachfront.”

It took a couple of years to find the perfect seafront site, a corner block at Hove which, at just 380 square metres, would prove a challenge when it came to designing a home for five.

Anna and Tony, who run their own business, had employed Black Rabbit Architecture + Interiors to transform their Wayville property, working with the team of director/architect Sean Humphries and director/interior designer Bettina Hildebrandt.

They had such a great rapport with the Black Rabbit team that Anna and Tony knew the duo was the obvious choice to design their beachfront dream home.

“We just clicked and collaborated really well with Sean and Bettina,” Anna says. “We felt that they really understood us.”

Warm timber cabinetry (“Eveneer” in light oak) seamlessly connects the kitchen and lounge areas.

The brief to Black Rabbit included incorporating a basement/underground parking for four cars, as well as four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living areas, plus a rooftop entertaining area – all while maximising sea views and still providing privacy where needed.

Fitting all of this into 380 square metres – while also accounting for the kind of exposure that comes with a beachfront site – added to the challenges of this job, according to architect Sean Humphries.

“Constructing on a sand dune, maintaining the integrity of the adjoining properties, a tall slender structure, a narrow block, and generally playing spatial gymnastics to achieve the very most out of a tight site all contribute to the engineering of the project having a high level of complexity,” Sean says. “The most challenging part was getting out of the ground, digging a basement in a sand dune on a narrow site is simply logistically challenging. The structure itself is a hybrid of precast, steel, suspended concrete, concrete rafts, as well as the plain old conventional timber framed construction.”

The construction, undertaken by builder Steve Gibson Homes, took two and a half years and the family moved in during the Covid pandemic in 2020. While all three of their children moved into the new abode initially, one has since moved overseas, but the other two adult children still live at home.

Anna says the house works perfectly for this next phase of family life with plenty of room and privacy for everyone.

“This home shows how phenomenal Black Rabbit are,” Anna says. “They have absolutely capitalised on the space.

“They also understand the way we live as a family. We spent a lot of time going through designs with the team, which often turned into dinner all together. They’ve seen our kids grow up and they not only understand our aesthetic, but the way we live together.”

An example of this is the inclusion of informal bench seating around the new seaside home, including in the living area, along the side of the stairs and upstairs outside the children’s bathroom.

“So, if our daughter is getting ready to go out and her friend is here you can sit on the bench seating and chat,” Anna says. “With all the wrap-around benches and seating there’s enough room for everyone, especially when the kids’ friends drop in. Or if the kids or I am cooking in the kitchen you can sit on the bench near the stairs. That’s how we live.

“That’s just one example of how Black Rabbit understands that we are very informal and that, for us, having a discussion doesn’t only happen at the dinner table.”

Both the lounge room and the nook alongside the stairs feature bench seating which gets plenty of use by family and friends.

Anna describes her interior style as “minimalist” and it is clear that this is a clutter-free home, leaving space for the architectural and interior design elements to speak for themselves.

A standout is the warm timber cabinetry (Eveneer in light oak) that flows from the kitchen into the living area, linking the two zones seamlessly.

Anna says she also likes to keep things simple and this is reflected in the interior design repetition throughout – glazed mosaic feature tiles by Cerbis Ceramics have been used in white in the kitchen and minty green in the bathroom, while the disc wall lighting has been repeated in the living spaces, bathrooms and bedrooms.

A neutral design palette adds warmth and style across the home including mainly white walls (Dulux Wash and Wear Lexion, quarter strength, matte), a combination of polished concrete and timber flooring, and rustic stone used around the living room fireplace (Allstone Arctic Blend).

“We wanted a beachside home but not a blue beach house,” Anna says. “It was really important to us to have a calm, soothing palette. We also wanted comfortable living, we didn’t want to be precious about things.”

Most of the family’s existing furniture fitted perfectly into their new home including the Franco Crea dining table and chairs and the Jardan leather lounge.

A few key artworks, which Anna prefers to lean against the wall rather than hang, are dotted around the home and some of her favourite pieces are by a local artist named Lyle Dayman.

Anna discovered Lyle’s work during a walk around the neighbourhood, when the artist’s daughter was selling some of her elderly father’s works while packing up his Somerton Park home.

“She said she wanted them to be enjoyed rather than packed away so I picked up a few pieces,” Anna says. “I love that he is local and his artworks are now part of our lives in a seaside home.”

Large black-framed, double-glazed doors to the main living room open up, bringing in the sea air and the sounds of the waves, creating a unique beachside connection between inside and out.

Inevitably, given this very public location, that outdoor connection also means that Anna and Tony’s home is visible to the non-stop procession of runners and passers-by, but this is something the couple accept as part of life on the seafront.

“A lot of people have commented on how public the house is, friends say they drove by and saw us having dinner, so clearly we’re a bit of a fishbowl,” Tony says. “But that really doesn’t bother us. I think if we were concerned about people seeing in then maybe we wouldn’t be able to see out so beautifully, either.

“There are plenty of private parts of the house but I guess for passers-by it’s just that fascination of water-front homes. No matter what house you’re walking past along the beachfront you always have a look, and that’s fine with us.”

The public location also allows for lots of unplanned drop-ins and catch-ups with friends, which Anna and Tony embrace.

They tell the story of a couple of friends who walked past recently and said they’d drop in on their way back from exercising.

The circular theme is reflected in the handles in Anna and Tony’s walk-in robe which tucks in behind the bed of their master suite.

“So, they dropped in and ended up staying for lunch, and we were having such a great time they ended up staying for dinner as well,” Anna says. “We have lots of friends and relatives who might be going for a walk and just happen to see that we are inside or we see them walking past, so we say, ‘come in for a drink’.”

Christmas is the biggest entertaining day for the family and an occasion when the house truly comes into its own with all of the spaces utilised.

“So, last Christmas we had some of the parents drinking on the front terrace, some of the older relatives sitting inside on the couch and still enjoying the view, and the young ones up on the rooftop garden,” Anna says. “We love that we can share this house and this view with our family and friends. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Eventually, once their children finish university and move out of home, Tony and Anna will enjoy their retirement in this spectacular location.

With this in mind, the home has been designed to be low maintenance both inside and out, and there is also a lift which runs from the basement to the second-floor bedrooms.

Repetition has been used throughout the interiors including the disc wall lighting in the bathroom which also features in the kitchen.

“My mother loves the lift, it’s already come in very handy, and I use it to bring the shopping up from the basement,” Anna says. “And, who knows, eventually we may need it, too, when we are older.

“Also, all the materials for the house are as low maintenance as possible. We are not people who are good with our hands so, for example, the cladding on the outside of the house has a 20-year warranty and won’t need any maintenance in that time, and the brickwork is all exposed, not painted.

“This house was designed for Tony and I to retire in. It was designed and built so it still fits the kids, but we have downsized from what we had at Wayville. There is no guest bedroom or study now, or big garden to maintain.

“This is not a home for a young family, too many stairs and falling points, but for a family of our age, it’s great, with adult kids it’s ideal and then when they move out it’s still good for just Tony and me.”

Tony adds: “This is downsizing for us, it’s not the house with the big grounds. We used to have that, lots of room outside for young kids, but we don’t need that now.”

Rather than creating just a box home, architect Sean Humphries from Black Rabbit created a facade that “peels itself away from the super structure whilst protecting itself from the western sun”. Low maintenance, robust materials have also been used given the exposure to the elements of the beachfront site.

The exterior design of the home, rather than being just a big box, has been created using a variety of materials and layers, including window boxes and a lack of straight lines, which architect Sean Humphries says contributes to the “push and pull” of the building.

“There is a lot of ‘house’ that is concealing itself on what is a squeezy allotment, and one of the ways we were able to achieve what we did was to start to push and pull the planning and the facade,” Sean says.

“This was also critical in achieving a sea view from all of the bedrooms. The resulting facade peels itself away from the super structure and opens itself up to the views, while protecting itself from the harshness of the western sun – the perpetual curse of the South Australian esplanade home, the view and the western sun are in the same direction.

“The result of the push and pull in the planning is that there is a sense of playfulness in the way that you are moved around the home, where your next move is already leading you to the next snippet of view or a framed vista, captured by the frame of a window seat or the guiding edge of a blade wall.”

The master suite, with more of the disc lighting, also carries through the muted neutral tones, and features a bedhead that invokes a driftwood-beachy feel.

One of the other architectural achievements of this home is the way is sits so well in its seaside environment, Tony says.

“It’s something beautiful to look at as well as being a really interesting architectural achievement,” he says. “We love not just the sea views, but that we can see all this life, the people walking by, watching families on the beach. We’ve watched everything here, from pink sunsets to lightning shows, dolphins, and that beautiful view.

“Coming home feels like a holiday. It’s just so relaxing hearing the sea and just chilling out watching the world go by. We love living in it and we love that people walking by can enjoy it, too. We dreamed of living by the beach, but this is beyond all of our wildest expectations.”


This article first appeared in the January 2024 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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