A generous family home that draws inspiration from its laidback beach-meets-city surrounds. That was Ali Griffith’s desire when she designed and renovated this sunny four-bedroom bungalow on Sydney’s northern beaches. So note-perfect is the home’s laidback appeal, it’s hard to believe Ali, an art director and stylist, grew up in the English countryside. A self-confessed “gypsy”, she spent her childhood climbing trees and building dens in the local woods.
As an adult, Ali moved to London and cut her design teeth as a fashion editor and freelance stylist. Work brought her to Australia; the warm weather and Sydney’s beaches and outdoors lifestyle kept her here. “I came over to do a couple of shoots and loved it,” says Ali. “It’s such a beautiful country.” The house, located just minutes from pretty Avalon Beach, was somewhat uninspiring when Ali first found it in 2002. “It was an ugly, brick-rendered bungalow with a horrible flat-roofed extension out the back and a treated pine balcony with steps down to the garden,” she says. “But I liked the land and the shape of the front of the house was fairly appealing. It had bones I knew I could work with.”
After five years living in the house, Ali began the renovation. During the project, local builder Michael Beukers of Beukers Building offered his expert advice, resulting in some smart design features and cost savings. “He’s an amazing builder and his communication skills with the client are wonderful,” says Ali. “There were no blow-outs.”
Indeed, so successful was their partnership, Ali and Michael now work together to design and renovate other people’s homes. For this house, Ali reconfigured the front section, converting the laundry into an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe off the master bedroom and knocking down the original kitchen to create the generous passageway that leads to the open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. “I wanted to create the dream property for the lifestyle of Sydney’s northern beaches,” says Ali. “I listed off everything that would be ideal for this kind of lifestyle – big kitchen, separate entertaining area, walk-in pantry.” Outside, a decked pool and four-poster daybed are a cool alternative to a dip in the ocean.