A holiday home needs to make you feel like you are at home from the moment you walk in the door – nothing too precious, yet a comfortable ambience that makes you smile,’ says Simone Matthews, a Sydney-based interior designer with BAM Interior Design.

The raked ceilings in the kitchen and dining area create a light and open feel, while the dark wood flooring and natural material furnishings add warmth and livability

After visiting the sleepy, coastal town of Gerringong in Australia for a friend’s birthday, she found just the spot to create the getaway she had been dreaming of. When Simone discovered one of the area’s original farmhouses, she quickly decided she would acquire and renovate it – even though she and her husband hadn’t yet decided whether they were making it their forever home or a holiday retreat.

‘Once we stepped inside, we fell in love with the character – and especially the original flooring, which we have kept and reinstalled into the barn,’ she says. Together with her husband, who is a builder by trade, Simone restored the original front section of the farmhouse and added a new extension to the rear.

The bed linens in the guest rooms stick to sea and sand tones with prints from local artists featured over the beds

When it came to the interiors, Simone freely admits she was her own worst client, as an interior designer herself she couldn’t stop thinking of the plethora of design and style options: ‘My biggest challenge was sticking to the plan!’ That plan – her interiors brief – was to create a home that paid homage to the character of the old farmhouse while adding a modern, coastal feel.

The original stone fireplace adds some rustic character and charm to the living area and draws attention to the statement ceiling. The hanging swing is a comfortable retreat for one – or two to share – on the porch. Large planters with abundant foliage, hanging planters and small succulents all attest to the harmony with the natural environment

The laidback lifestyle of Gerringong was a major influence for her styling decisions. ‘We didn’t want the house to be too precious,’ she recalls. ‘We wanted it to be the type of home where you can still walk around with sand between your toes.’ The home keeps to a coastal colour palette with sandy browns and blue sky hues that have both a practical and calming affect. Plenty of natural textures from linen and rattan to wood and stone complement the relaxed ethos of the home, which the couple have renamed ‘Soul of Gerringong’.

High pitched ceilings in the guest bedrooms were added to match the raked ceiling in the kitchen for a harmonious connection throughout the home and to create an airy feel to the space

This relaxed aesthetic was complemented by Simone’s preference for bright and open spaces. She chose to use a warm white – Dulux Natural White – on the walls, and a crisper shade on the ceilings – Dulux Vivid White. ‘I wanted white walls to create a light and airy feeling in the home, without it appearing too cold or austere. The combination of the two shades has worked perfectly.’ The white palette is richly contrasted with the depth of the black oak flooring, which, in turn, complements the dark stone in the fireplace. Clearly a hero of the home, the fireplace was treated to reveal the original stone, with the couple sourcing additional stone from the surrounding grounds of the property, as well as a friend’s local farm.

The guest bathrooms feature slate flooring and a freestanding stone bathtub with matching basin, adding another natural texture to the interior

The earthy tones add a warmth to the décor that also reflects the area’s natural surroundings. Another stunning statement within the interior is the raked ceilings in the kitchen and the guest rooms. ‘We love playing with drama in the ceilings. It creates a sense of more space and adds an amazing design element,” says Simone. ‘The guest rooms were not planned to have the pitched ceilings, but we just couldn’t help ourselves. And we are so glad we did.’


Simone Matthews

The owner: Simone Matthews, an interior designer with Sydney-based BAM Interior Design, converted this original farmhouse into a holiday home with calm, coastal design appeal.

The home: Set in the quiet beach town of Gerringong, Australia, this property features four bedrooms in the former farmhouse, a two bedroom cabana, plus a self-contained barn with a bedroom suite, as well as seven bathrooms and a powder room, all designed with a focus on natural textures. Renamed the ‘Soul of Gerringong’, the property is available for holiday rental.

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