Gerroa is a special place on the south coast of NSW and one that legendary surfer Sally Fitzgibbons calls home. This house tour is very timely for those who love a simple, pared back coastal style that is easy to live in and at the same time absolutely gorgeous. In a breathtaking position and just a stone's throw from the beach, this coastal home ticks all the boxes.
A tour of Sally's Gerroa Beach House
Perched on the Gerroa headland in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Highline House is the stunning new beach home of professional Australian surfer and Olympian, Sally Fitzgibbons. Inspired by nature and drawing from the land, sea and wildlife, it was a project from the heart for Sally, who was born and bred in Gerroa, and worked closely with her builder and friend, Simon Rees, to reimagine the original weatherboard beach shack.
“This project became my anchor and why I love the Gerroa headland so dearly,” says Sally. “My builder Simon and I love nature so much and let it guide us through the project, capturing the essence and beauty of the view through many portals, viewing windows, balcony spaces and garden settings.”
The resulting home is the height of Australian coastal living, a luxe and stylish revival that manages to retain the relaxed appeal of a traditional Australian beach shack. It encompasses a main bedroom and ensuite, guest bedroom, bathroom, kitchen/dining, a separate living room, study nook, private gym and swimming pool.
From the exterior the home exudes a rustic chic charm, with its white painted walls and exquisitely landscaped gardens. It works to connect with the ocean at every opportunity through both the exterior and interior, with stepping stones, pathways, a large entertaining balcony and a myriad of viewing windows.
As much as Highline House has been designed to capitalise on its stunning views, through the interior, it also works to both capture and resist the fluctuating light of the day. Each room has been elegantly finished with the practical application of premium Luxaflex® blinds and curtains.
“The range at Luxaflex® window coverings was so perfect to suit my project,” says Sally. “Just like the moods in the weather we experience at Gerroa, the rooms in this house spoke to a mix of Luxaflex® treatments. The result allows you to enjoy every room in the house and to make it your own private sanctuary.”
Flooded in natural light the kitchen dining area features a peaked floor-to-ceiling window, offering the main ocean view from the interior. To complete the aesthetic feel of the space, while also working to filter the heavy afternoon sun, the windows have been finished with Luxaflex® Pirouette® Shadings. Sally chose a linen fabric in the colourway, “Chamomile”, to harness and beautifully diffuse the light to preference.
Continuing the aesthetic appeal, further windows throughout the interior have been framed by the soft flowing effect of sheer curtains from the Luxaflex®Abre range in the colour Froth, adding a further dimension to the elegant finish of the home. The sheer curtains were chosen to complement the Luxaflex® Duette® Shades which have been featured in the front entryway and guest bedroom.
As well as adding an element of style, Luxaflex® Duette® Shades play an important role in helping moderate the temperature in a bedroom. Their unique honeycomb structure traps air, which provides a layer of insulation to help keep the home's interior warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The balance of light control, privacy and energy-efficient qualities they provide make them perfect for an Australian beach home. “The Luxaflex® window furnishings have definitely tied together the rooms in Highline house – finishing it off with a luxurious touch and complementing each room for its particular look and privacy needs,” says Sally.
Recognising that a dark and peaceful space for rest and relaxation is essential in a home that’s abundant in light, Sally selected the Luxaflex® Duette® shades in a blockout fabric for the main bedroom, which has become a hero moment in her day. “One of my favourite parts of the design, is waking up in the master bedroom, rolling over and pressing the remote control for the shades, and watching them rise,” Sally says. “It slowly reveals the pool, the ocean, the beach and then the mountains, the magic of this just gets me every single time.”
Throughout the interior, texture and neutral tones are layered through a repeated colour palette of white, black, and grey, the neutrality is enhanced vividly by the surrounding blues of the ocean. A scattering of natural elements such as timber and green foliage also works to connect the abundant views of nature.
“Highline House has a unique feel, with quirks that sometimes make it hard to give it one particular style,” says Sally. “It is a beach house when categorised, but it’s also open to interpretation, from the visuals of the salt-crusted rock platforms becoming the inspiration for the kitchen bench tops, to the warmth of the Baltic pine flooring and the history of the restored pieces from the original house, including the front door, Oars and Lifesaving ring.”
The deck area leading directly from the living room provides a perfect viewing point where one can sit and relax. Assisting again with impeccable form and function is the Luxaflex® Evo MagnaTrack® Awning, enabling balcony privacy whilst offering advanced sun protection and airflow for a more enjoyable entertaining space. Sally says, “It’s comforting to know that the awning can handle the diverse and unforgiving weather conditions we experience here, as they are engineered, and tested in Australia to handle such conditions.”
For Sally, the most satisfying aspect of the renovation is being able to enjoy the success of the finished project. “It is so satisfying to reach the end of the road and sit on the balcony with family and friends, looking out over my favourite view in the whole world.”
For further information, visit www.luxaflex.com.au
What I love about Sally's Gerroa Beach House
- Throughout the house the look is natural and uncomplicated and this is achieved in part with the finishes that Sally has chosen. There are no shiny surfaces, which means the look is not in the slightest glitzy. All the finishes are mainly in matt, from the kitchen surfaces through to the study joinery, the paint finishes, tapware, stone and bathroom tiles. Often subtle choices like the finish of a product can seem unimportant, but here they really cement the look.
- Accents of rattan furniture and lighting keep the look relaxed and introduce texture to the scheme. As much as I love matt finishes and a simple laid back look, you need to ensure that it does not become too one dimensional. People focus on colour when they are putting a scheme together, but texture plays an equally important role. By introducing texture with rattan, you instantly inject a point of difference. This is why rattan furniture has made a big comeback as it works so well with coastal styles.
- There has been a lot of thought given to the window dressings. Rather than a one size fits all, each room has been assessed to see what is right for the aspect and the way the room is used. One of my criticisms of The Block this year is that generally each window was furnished with the same sheers. This doesn't work at all and is completely impractical. Window dressings should never be an after-thought and should be planned at the beginning of a renovation or house build.
- I really like the accents of black throughout the house which tie in the windows and roof colour. Notice how the black was used to great effect on the ceiling fans and door hardware, but not extended through to the bathrooms and tapware. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and this demonstrates this point perfectly. Less is more and everything doesn't have to match.
- Finally, I am a huge fan of natural linen and I therefore absolutely love the choice of bedding and sofas in the house. Just gorgeous.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of Sally Fitzgibbons' Gerroa beach house. I would love to hear your comments in the section below.
One of the hardest things is starting a renovation and defining your style. It needs to be something that you love, but also is appropriate for the style of house you are building or renovating. Ensure you do this before you start and not as you progress through the project as the end result will not be as cohesive as it could be if there is a change in direction. Read my post on How to define your decorating style for more inspiration.
Did you know that I have a Free Resource Library? Whether you are building a new dream home or just undertaking a weekend redecorating project, there will be something there to help and inspire you. Included in my library is a guide on how to put together a mood board. You can download the free checklists and e-books here.