Love shack, baby

A humble beach house gets a sensitive makeover designed to preserve its precious memories.

For interior designer Josh Reitano, renovating his family’s coastal cottage on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula was a balancing act that involved preserving the old-soul integrity of the 1950s home while undertaking a considered contemporary freshen-up. “My grandparents Giuseppe and Caterina loved the beach,” he says. “The home is nostalgic for my family and me. Although it’s undergone a makeover, it still showcases our memories.”
The home was passed down to Josh in 2014; shortly afterwards, he and his partner Adriana Vujovic – also an interior designer – commenced the renovation. The couple started from scratch by walking through the house, noting the repair work required and discussing their ideas for design and cosmetic changes. “The major difference between thisproject and others is that this was personal and had a lot of emotion attached,” says Josh. “Adriana and I made sure to communicate well and go over every detail to ensure we shared the same vision.”

TOP “We felt an immediate connection to the Bromley artwork,” says Josh of the large-scale piece by David Bromley he and Adriana chose for the hallway (also seen at the top of the page). “The toy boat combined with the graffiti style reflects us – it’s urban Melbourne life meets seaside town.” ABOVE A cluster of irregularly hung hessian pendants brings a sense of intimacy to the dining room.

A key space that held cherished memories for Josh was the dining area. “I remember when I was a child my grandparents loved entertaining here, and they always had guests over whenever we’d visit. Adriana and I wanted to keep the humble, communal and social feel of the dining room that I grew up with.” An oversized recycled timber and galvanised iron dining table by d-Bodhi paired with classic Thonet chairs was deemed the perfect centrepiece.

TOP Josh’s desire to play on the casual vibe of the home saw him craft the kitchen’s leather cupboard and drawer handles himself out of Argentinian lamb hide. “The leather will develop a lovely patina over time,” he says. ABOVE Josh and Adriana’s favourite room is their studio. “It’s our creative space and where our ever-growing collections merge with our love of design.”

The couple couldn’t part with the original kitchen cabinetry, so they painted it white to brighten up the space and added handmade leather handles as an on-trend touch. To enhance the natural light that filters through the home, they painted every room except their bedroom a similarly crisp white.

ABOVE The couple drew up a detailed living room furniture plan to ensure they bought pieces that were the correct size and to determine their arrangement in the space. Their photographic artwork Cliffs sits on a sideboard they found on Gumtree.

“The beauty of this place is the light that streams in all year round,” says Josh. “Pre-renovation, the home had a dark interior, low light and dusty carpet. Once we got our hands on it, we pulled down the dark curtains to let the light in.”

ABOVE “We took our Scenic Detour photo during our stay in the Cinque Terre in Italy,” says Josh. “It’s a constant reminder of the way we felt on that trip, and the colour of our bedroom walls references that beautiful Mediterranean Sea.”

The decision to paint the master bedroom a deep sea blue turned out to be a controversial one. “At one point, family, friends and tradies were all huddled in the bedroom bickering about our wall colour options!” says Josh. “But Adriana and I love Dulux Atlantic Mystique and felt confident about taking the risk – and now it’s all done, everyone agrees it works.”

TOP A Thonet bentwood chair that echoes those in the dining room makes a chic bedside table in the guest room. The bed linen here is from Cultiver, with throw from Tribe & Co Living. MIDDLE After watching a YouTube tutorial, Josh waterproofed the bathroom himself, a great cost-cutting measure the couple were able to implement in several areas of the home. ABOVE The cottage’s laundry was originally in the backyard, so the couple converted the old mud room inside into a modern version, using plywood for the cupboard doors. Cockatoo coat hooks bought at Melbourne’s Camberwell Sunday Market are a colourful bit of fun.

After all the repair and cosmetic work was completed, Josh and Adriana couldn’t wait to get started on their favourite part of the process – decorating. Influenced by their travels, a lot of the photos they’ve put on display were taken on their overseas holidays. In fact, the Cliffs artwork in the living room was their inspiration for the design and styling of the entire home.
If there was one image we’d say resembles us the most, it would have to be that,” says Josh. “It really guided us on the direction of our home’s aesthetic. The natural colour palette and the unrefined materials and textures of nature shown in the photo were at the forefront of our vision.”

Words & styling Kerrie-Ann Jones
Chris Warnes

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