Amazing Beach House Renovation

With his well-trained eye, celebrity builder Luke Van Dyck knew the weather-worn 1940s Federation house on Sydney’s northern beaches had the makings of a great family home.

But with wife Aime expecting their first child, it was going to be a race against the clock to get the place ready to live in.

‘It was a bit of a mess to look at,’ recalls Luke, who runs construction company LVD Industries and appears on Foxtel’s Australian Renovations.

But knowing better than to judge on looks alone, Luke quickly assessed the positives. ‘It was on a great street with a north-westerly aspect, on a huge 850sqm block close to the beach.

‘I could see it was in pretty good shape but the verandah was a bit of a bodgy add-on. It had to be tackled quickly to make it safe.’

Luke completely remodelled the verandah, bringing everything up to code. A solid roof and partial wall provides privacy and safety, and
enhances the outdoor room feel.

amazing beach house renovation, before shot, handyman magazine, a deck before being renovated,
The old verandah was structurally unsafe and there was little privacy.

Defining Hamptons Style

Located on the South Fork of Long Island, New York, the Hamptons is a collection of towns and hamlets including East Hampton, Montauk, Southampton and Westhampton.

It’s famous for having some of the most expensive real estate on the US east coast.

Homes in this area are typically influenced by a traditional English country home aesthetic, with weatherboard cottages and interiors reflecting the seaside location.

With an emphasis on contrasting light with dark, you’ll find white walls with timber floors, picture windows, wraparound verandahs and open-plan living spaces.

GET THE LOOK by choosing classic designs in neutral colours and natural materials such as linen, cane or rattan, seagrass and timber.

Though the style is simple, it relies on the quality of its parts so don’t stint on the big ticket items.

Add contrast with geometric or faded floral accessories. Chevron and traditional stripes work well and can be rotated and updated to keep the look fresh.

Incorporate vintage and rustic elements to personalise the space.

amazing beach house renovation, bathroom, before, handyman magazine,
Before: shabby and basic, the tiny bathroom was out of proportion with the house

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After: now three times bigger, travertine tiles and bespoke joinery set the tone of the remodelled bathroom

Set the style

Luckily for Luke and Aime, the single level, three-bedroom brick home needed mainly cosmetic updates, plus a new kitchen and bathroom.

‘Inside it was all electric blue carpets and yellow walls. The whole look was very dated,’ says Luke.

The first thing the couple did was decide on a style. In the case of a large project like this, having a firm vision is key to getting things moving fast.

‘Modern designs are fairly simple to replicate. But it’s important to avoid trends if you want a look that will last.

‘We went for Hamptons style, which translated perfectly to the beachside location and architecture of the home. It’s classic, so doesn’t date.’

The pure white scheme is offset by a richly stained, quality Australian hardwood floor that creates a seamless flow between rooms. White-on white furnishings are broken up with stripes and flashes of timber.

amazing beach house renovation, kitchen before, handyman magazine,
Before: in the kitchen old flooring, yellow walls and laminate benchtops all had to go

amazing beach house renovation, handyman magazine, after,
After: expansive bushland views frame and soften the neutral palette of the open-plan kitchen and dining area

Add a classic kitchen

The original U shaped kitchen was reconfigured to gain more than a metre of extra floorspace and to open the room to the dining area. The cabinetry was all handmade and meticulously finished.

‘We took a lot of time to get the details absolutely perfect, and it’s paid off in the end,’ says Luke.

Inset doors and drawers, moulding details and hardware accents such as the cup handles hark back to another era but are brought bang up to date with high-spec appliances.

A large kitchen island provides additional space for casual gatherings, and is finished with a single length of Caesarstone in a new colour called Organic White.

Chrome vintage-style pendant lamps mark the boundary between kitchen and dining, and glossy grey subway tiles on the splashback add a Hamptons flourish to the space.

amazing beach house renvation, amazing kitchen close up, handyman magazine,
The classic kitchen was handmade to suit the style

Work in stages

Throwing everything he had at it, Luke was able to get the house in great liveable shape within just 10 weeks.

‘It was a massive effort, even for me with all my resources and experience,’ says Luke.

‘But for anyone wanting to tackle a big reno themselves, I’d say give yourself enough time to get it right.’

Another important element is breaking the job into stages.

‘Pushing to get everything done is too stressful. Prioritise and be realistic. We’ve done all the major rooms but the bedrooms, exterior, and landscaping are going to be a little bit later down the track.’

living area before deck extension, amazing beach house renovation, handyman magazine,
Blue carpet, cork floor tiles and yellow walls made for a very dated look

deck area after renovation, handyman magazine,
Featuring a single paint colour on the walls and the same hardwood flooring throughout, the spaces flow into one another seamlessly

Keep to budget

Setting a budget and sticking to it is a challenge that stumps most renovators, and even the pros aren’t immune to the sting.

‘When it came to the overall building costs I had it all worked out. But the finishing touches blew things out a bit. It’s so true that you really have to have a bit extra in reserve. I’ve seen many renovations stalling at the last stages because the cash runs out.

‘At the end of the day, when you are designing a home to feel comfortable in for years to come, plus have good resale value down the line, the quality of the parts will be worth the initial investment.’

Flooring finishes

The trend in recent years has been for lighter coloured flooring but this style depends very much on other design elements. If your home has plenty of natural light and spacious rooms, a deeper-toned floor can be a striking addition.

Luke chose hardwood for the floor, finishing the boards with a stain and clear varnish.

Get the look with floor paint or keep the grain of the timber visible by using a dark stain to achieve the depth of colour.

This article was originally published in the February 2013 edition of Australian Handyman magazine.