With its close proximity to Sydney, New South Wales, the sleepy seaside town of Gerringong has long beckoned those ‘in the know’ to come rest, relax and play. It’s the type of town where generations of beach holiday memories have been made in the sun, surf and from nights spent eating fish and chips at the same beach shack, year after year, with family and friends.
While Gerringong is ‘waking up’ as more city folk discover its virtues, the simple essence of the classic beach escape is staying with the town, thanks to homeowners like Simone and Ben Mathews, who are reimaging the iconic Aussie holiday house.
“Imperfect. Natural. Earthy. Open. That instant ‘holiday feeling’ is intrinsically connected to classic coastal living; it makes you want to take a big breath out your shoulders, relax, and instantly feel lighter,” says homeowner and designer, Simone.
Simone, an interior designer, online educator and creator of SOUL Home, has a passion for understanding the psychology of a space. Together with her builder husband Ben, the owner of BAM Constructions Group, they have curated numerous homes, and homes away from home.
“The holiday properties that we create are homes where guests can create memories. We’re modernising the iconic Aussie holiday home experience to give our guests something truly special – a holiday feeling that sustains them long after the demands of day-to-day life kick in again,” says Simone.
The duo’s latest property, The Pause located in Gerringong, is a reimagining of the classic weatherboard beach escape. The home’s wide verandas and textured weatherboard exterior with natural wood doors and shutters creates an instant sense of belonging to the south coast town; while also promising a new type of luxury and boutique holiday experience.
According to Simone, material selection is key to creating home that will instantly catch the eye of holidaymakers, while keeping maintenance costs to a minimum. Simone and Ben selected Cemintel’s Balmoral for ‘The Pause’, to achieve the desired design aesthetic and ensure the home would thrive in its coastal setting.
Part of the ‘Street Style Collection’, Cemintel’s ‘Balmoral’ is a modern take on the timeless weatherboard. The 16mm thick textured fibre cement boards create sharp lines with distinct shadows to emulate the classic weatherboard look; but are guaranteed to outlast timber siding options which can be easily damaged by harsh coastal conditions.
“Being in a coastal area, we definitely needed to use materials that could withstand the salt in the air. While we're not on the beachfront, we are definitely exposed to the elements, so we needed materials that would hold up to that because the property has to be low maintenance to be profitable.
“One of the things we love is that when using a weatherboard that's made from fibre cement, is that it won't shrink and crack, and will ultimately hold the paint longer than traditional timber boards, so we won’t have to pay to have them painted as often. We know they’ll stand the test of time,” says Simone.
As with any project, the installation process was also key to keeping the renovation timeline on track.
“As the builder, Ben found Balmoral really easy to work with. What he, and the technical team noticed is that the boards don't show any of the imperfections you sometimes see with other brands, where you can see a bit of a ripple effect if a board is not perfect. Our painter also commented that he saved time because usually he has to hide imperfections and intersections that come with other brands, but with Balmoral he quickly achieved a seamless, uniform finish,” says Simone.
While performance was a key consideration for Simone and Ben, achieving the coastal look is what will ultimately lead to bookings for this holiday property.
“I'm a big believer if something's not real, don't use it, because it always looks like it's fake. But that is what I love about the Balmoral boards. They've got the texture and the grain in it,” says Simone.
For Simone, the clean horizontal lines, woodgrain texture and the shadow created with Balmoral takes the property from being just a standard renovation to a real nod to the beach holiday homes of the past.
“I am so happy with how this house looks. It really is demanding street attention. I joke that out the front we can start selling tickets because everyone's stopping and looking!
What I just love about this home is that we've really created our own unique take on an Australian coastal home,” concludes Simone.