In late August of last year, interior designer and TAFE teacher Tim Neve bought a house in Nelson Bay with the intention of making it a stunning holiday rental in time for summer.
In a matter of months he completely transformed the space into The Bay Haus, a two-storey, three-bedroom home now accepting guests.
Neve, a born and bred Novocastrian, is always keen to explore coastal themes. He immediately fell in love with the house.
"I remember literally making an audible gasp as I scrolled upon it for sale online," Neve says.
"The A-frame exterior is classic beach-shack style that replicated the new wave of architecture of the 1950s, it was relatively untouched.
"It had so much personality, built up off the hill overlooking Nelson Bay with a wrap-around veranda.
"At my first inspection, the initial question from the real estate agent was "Was I a developer?" I was horrified, that someone would even consider knocking down such a beauty to make way for a new construction."
The exterior of the 70-year-old building has remained unchanged, but its interior has been completely modernised.
The previous owners had started 'neutralising' the interior, which featured retro brown and orange wallpaper.
For his renovation, Neve wanted a neutral, relaxed feel that didn't feel stark or cold. He opted for a warm neutral wall colour (Dulux Natural White).
He removed two walls to open up the living area.
"I still remember the first day I hit the sledgehammer through the wall and could see the shore of nearby Bagnalls Beach appear before me, and knew instantly I had made the right decision," he says.
He brought in trades to coordinate a new upstairs kitchen and bathroom below.
"The space for the kitchen is small, but feels streamlined thanks to the clever inclusion of integrated appliances, which makes the fridge and dishwasher literally disappear," he says.
Two huge pendant lights over the kitchen island make a statement and attract plenty of compliments from guests.
He chose brushed brass tapware, terracotta and terrazzo tiles, and an apricot cement basin for the bathroom. It turned out better than he could have imagined.
"Bathrooms are such a balancing act. I like to choose bolder, hard surfaces, but everything has to work together. The terrazzo tile really pulls together the entire scheme, with fragments of the terracotta colour in it," he says.
Nude earthy tones are central to the decor's natural theme.
"In the beautiful open-plan living area upstairs, the natural light literally bounces off the walls. It's really heavenly," he says.
Downstairs, a series of smaller rooms make up the three bedrooms, bathroom, and break-out lounge area. Each bedroom has tactile linens in neutral tones.
"I love mixing and matching bed linens - different pillowcases, with contrasting covers and sheets," he says.
"The curved linen bed head is a custom-made creation that I designed myself to be able to split in two, allowing the flexibility in a holiday rental for the king bed to become two singles.
"Either way, it's a statement piece".
He's known for gathering the smaller decorator items first, regardless of which property he's working on. Long before the tradies arrive, he's always piled up with cushions, linen and homewares.
"Texture is key when staying neutral, to ensure things don't become simply flat and beige," he says.
He adores the chaise sofa filled with duck feathers, big enough for a family of five to share. The white leather 'sling' chairs offer additional comfortable seating.
His job gives him access to many products, so for this project he felt like a "kid in a candy store".
At industry trade fairs in Sydney and Melbourne he found sculptural forms in natural rattan, upholstered pieces in neutral linens and homewares in nude leather.
"I really wanted to push the shape of the furniture pieces that I was selecting - we've seen Scandi styles so many times before in beach houses, so I tried to stay away from that style of design," he says.
"Instead, the furniture pieces are much more robust and sculptural - simple curved shapes, in solid forms like the cement terrazzo coffee table, and the rounded tops of the buffets.
"I like to think they're quite forward-thinking, and should last many years to come."
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