Donna and Chris Allen’s house in a beachside pocket of Sydney is a lesson in compromise. “We had architect-designed plans approved to knock down the existing house and rebuild a new, ecofriendly house from scratch, but the market put our plans on the back burner,” Donna says. With Donna’s interior decorating background, they decided to take on well-intentioned renovations for their outdated spaces and bring in their lively, relaxed coastal fashion.
at a Glance
Who lives here: Donna and Chris Allen with their dogs José and Nacho
Location: Clontarf, Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia
Size: Around 2,000 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
That is intriguing: Native possums, lorikeets, cockatoos and water dragons often visit their doorstep.
The last time the 1950s beach house was fully renovated was in 1970. Donna says, “When we moved, we had plenty of outdated background, burnt oranges, avocado greens and wood paneling.”
Donna gave the house a posh do-over in a beachy style with bold contrasts and vibrant color schemes. “Nothing here is serious,” she moans.
Donna, an interior decorator for The Space Inside, place bright red and blue furnishings against the home’s existing wood framework and whitewashed the first wood floorboards through the living space.
Classic bus scroll: Doug Up on Bourke; lamp: Coco Republic
The pair is now in the midst of installing a new fireplace. The house needed a chimney, but they couldn’t locate the fireplace until they eliminated a bit of shelving and paneling.
A gallery of family travel photos pops on a yellow accent wall.
Armoire: Dock One (now closed)
There flows, evoking getaways that are sandy, A subtle beach theme through the house. “I really like salvage and antique shops where I can find original industrial pieces — furniture, hints, paraphernalia,” Donna says.
Console: Complete Pad
Donna’s office is a mixture of design and eclecticism. “I tend to mix and layer styles without being a servant to any one in particular,” she says. “I do love things with a history and a patina developed through age and use however, hence the industrial bent. Currently, I can not seem to get enough of Abigail Ahern’s strategy to dim spaces and lots of unexpected details; I love Jonathan Adler’s use of bold color and his doctrine that decorating ought to be fun and not taken too seriously. Finally, I believe Sarah Richardson is a genius with blending fabrics”
Stainless Steel counter top: Ikea; mirror: Meizai
A view of Sydney Harbour, one of Australia’s most prized natural features, is the highlight of Donna’s office area.
The guest area was originally Donna’s study. She swapped the rooms so she can appreciate the haven views while working. The area has now been embraced by their dog José.
The master bedroom on the second degree has a private deck and leads to Donna’s dressing area.
Donna’s dressing area, also with views of the water, is large enough to be a spare bedroom.
Shelf: Expedit, Ikea
When the Allens moved here, the kitchen cabinetry was an unpleasant, faded pink. “We couldn’t work out why anybody would install a pink kitchen when everything else in the area — tiles, light fixtures, blinds — was burnt orange and avocado green,” she says. “I pulled the door handles off to paint the cabinetry, and it turns out the cabinets were originally burnt orange, faded to pink over the years!”
Throughout a monthlong remodel, the few refreshed the kitchen with navy blues and crisp whites, designing it with an open layout and ample eat-in space.
Kitchen island: The Nation Trader; weights: David Met Nicole; industrial vinyl floors by Polyflor
“I love using the Harbour at our doorstep, the sea next door and the abundance of wildlife,” Donna says. “We’ve possums, lorikeets and cockatoos that visit every day and in summer, the water dragons come out and sit by the pool. Recently we’ve been united by 2 brushturkeys who prefer to roam up and down the street.”
Donna hangs out in the backyard with José and Nacho. “There are far more layout programs in the works,” she says. “The list is long, but following the fireplace we aspire to handle the main toilet and to repaint the exterior.”
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