Mermaid beach house
The initial approach was to prioritise and maximise natural light; however, Maher Design quickly pivoted to an extensive refurbishment that reconfigured the two-storey layout to achieve its full potential.
“The owners of this house are relaxed yet adventurous, open to new concepts but also rigorous about ensuring that the ideas put forward are the correct ones for them,” says founder and director Geraldine Maher of Maher Design. “We wanted to create an uplifting home that works for our clients emotionally, physically and functionally – a home they will never want to leave.”
The interiors and exteriors were transformed to be relaxing yet lively, with a strong connection to the seaside landscape. Removing unnecessary trims and architectural embellishments allowed the family home’s natural materiality to shine through.
Mermaid Beach House was designed to be a ‘forever home’ and, with two teenage children, the design needed to respond to the evolving family’s needs.
The Spanish terracotta tiles that cascaded across the original roofing defined the material palette. “The best feature of the house was the original terracotta tiled roof,” says Geraldine. “We had the desire to unify the interior and exterior as much as possible, therefore, terracotta was selected as the key material to achieve this.”
Warm terracotta thus replaced the white tiles outside, instead used across the interior floors and through to the exterior for continuity.
These cues appear in the louvres of the pergolas and balustrades, creating privacy and shelter without compromising the view. Additionally, a screen made of Kite Breeze Blocks, designed in collaboration with Adam Goodrum, offers ventilation and natural light through the entryway, letting in glimpses of the interior beyond.
The Kite Breeze Blocks range allows endless design possibilities, allowing the user to create endless patterns that work in conjunction with the layout of a project. Each layer captures shadow and light throughout the day in a unique pattern, in addition to serving its function as a room divider within the open-plan space in this residence.
All other materials were incorporated to complement the terracotta foundations, further reinforcing the beauty of Australian coastal living and achieving a cohesive design. The owners’ desire for a low-maintenance home informs the emphasis on durability and longevity within the material palette.
“The coastal location is beautiful but unforgiving,” says Geraldine. “Practically, non-corrosive materials that can withstand the harsh marine environment were specified, including terracotta, timber, ceramic, stone and straw.”
These materials mitigate the impacts of a humid environment while designing a bold interpretation of the local geography.
Reflecting the location on a micro scale, the raw tones of the adjacent sand dunes were embedded within the home's colour palette, drawing on the subtle shade shifts between each grain. Timber was employed especially here, gradually lightening through rooms as you travel upwards to emulate the tonal waves of the dunes.