The Beach House

Oct 15, 2012
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Photography by Gorta Yuuki
  • Designer Doherty Lynch

This article first appeared in (inside) #73: The Shortlist Issue.

Located in Portsea, a seaside town on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula – and purportedly one of the state’s most affluent postcodes – The Beach House is a recent interior decoration project realised by Melbourne studio, Doherty Lynch. Completed for a young family of four, this generously proportioned Bayside residence has been transformed into a sophisticated yet relaxed holiday retreat.

The house came with good bones, explains the studio’s co-founder Mardi Doherty, but also presented an interior that was too fussy and ordered for the new owners. “We stripped back a lot of the existing layers, such as curtains and floors and old light fittings,” Doherty says, paring back the old design in order to look at the home as a blank canvas on which to work up a new interior.

The central living space, with dining, reading and living spaces overlooking the courtyard beyond the arched windows.


Built within the last ten years, the French-inspired villa features a pitched roof, and an H-shaped plan that wraps around a court- yard and pool – with glazed double doors in bedrooms and the centrally located living space opening out onto the courtyard. “The house has been so well designed that the sun just streams through the spaces,” explains Doherty. “We wanted to allow the natural light to filter in during the day, and we then installed discreet block-out blinds to keep the light out at night.” In the bedrooms, light- weight linen curtains in shades of deep greys and blues draw the eye towards the full-height windows and doors, without adding unwanted weight and heaviness to the openings.

The material palette was chosen, she says, with kids in mind. “We have gone for some classic pieces, for instance the Eames fibre- glass chairs in the living room, but they – like the timber table top – are robust… and easy to clean!” Elsewhere in the home, ‘beachy’ materials are used, but in unexpected ways, thus avoiding the cliché of the beach aesthetic. Above the kitchen island bench, two woven rattan Vittorio Bonacina Orbita pendants provide sculptural detail, transforming into intricate lighting pieces at night. Beneath the island bench, wicker again makes an appearance – this time, with a splash of whimsy in the form of Patricia Urquiola’s Flo Stools, featuring a bold harlequin pattern in deep red and white.

Casual seating in the master bedroom, with a pop of colour – here, a David Band artwork – adding a playful touch to the muted colour palette.


The scale of the interior rooms presented something of a challenge, with all living areas sitting at the centre of the ‘H’ plan – serving as the bridge between the two sleeping/private wings of the house. This vast communal space has been broken down into a number of smaller, more intimate areas to create a sense of ease in what might otherwise have been an overwhelmingly grand and formal central room.

Two sitting areas are positioned either side of the dining zone, which sits directly in front of the kitchen. Three large rugs in neutral shades define these zones, adding a subtle but perceptible pause between them. Drawing the eye towards the exterior courtyard and the poolside setting, these relaxed family areas have each been oriented to give generous views through the expansive windows.

Throughout the house, Doherty Lynch has employed a neutral base colour palette, enlivened with pops of colour. A vibrant Loom rug animates the otherwise muted entrance hall, while in the reading area, a Patricia Urquiola Globo rug paired with a luxe Atollo Gold lamp introduce contemporary colour and texture, complementing a pair of reupholstered mid-century Danish armchairs sourced from Grandfather’s Axe.

Classic meets contemporary in the living space, where a Sigurd Resell Falcon Chair is paired with an Iko marble table from Jardan.


This fusion of classic furniture pieces with contemporary design reappears in the master bedroom, where a Featherston R160 chair and footstool and a Moller bench sit alongside a Mark Tuckey side table and a white Cecilie Manz Caravaggio floor lamp, with an over- sized bell-shaped shade that fits perfectly with the scale of the room. Pairings of old and new pieces are designed to give the house a well- worn look to keep the interior feeling relaxed and, importantly, unpretentious.

Wary of creating children’s bedrooms that the kids might outgrow too quickly, Doherty Lynch has opted for custom designed wall- paper that adds a playful touch to one bedroom, without being too ‘cutesy’. Depicting the world map and covering an entire wall of one bedroom, the piece is an inspired and unfussy element that, the designers hope, will serve as a more sophisticated and long-lasting feature for the room.

The entrance hall, livened by a Loom rug, Moooi Random pendants and original artwork


In spite of the abundance of natural light in the residence, Doherty adds that the new lighting became an essential protagonist in the design. “Lighting is really important for us, you can get a real feel for a house by the lighting,” she says. “The building previously had downlights, which didn’t work with such high ceilings.” In their place, Doherty Lynch has introduced wall, floor and table lamps – including a particularly striking pair of soft, mesh-like Moooi Random pendants in the entrance hall.

In The Beach House, Doherty Lynch has achieved a relaxed and uncomplicated interior energised by flourishes of pattern and colour – demonstrating that this firm’s signature style is as at home in a relaxed beachside setting as it is in a chic, inner-city residence.

Conversation • 1 comments

Add to this conversation


12 Apr 13 at 9:39 AM • Dion Seminara

The neutral shades and natural light create a very inviting family home. The 3 arched doors with bookcases either side create a stunning feature


Your email address will not be published.