Planning and purpose were the two important drivers of a renovation project taken up by Hayden and Sara Vale in 2018 to create their forever home.
Winners of The Block in 2018, Hayden and Sara started a new project the same year to transform a former beach shack in Stanwell Park on the NSW South Coast into their forever family home. After demolishing 90 per cent of the original shack, they created a stunning five-storey home featuring ocean and parkland views from the top floors.
With four large bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms, and three separate living areas, SouthHouse delivers a flexible family-friendly living space for the couple and their two children, Harlow and Lawson.
“We were after the perfect balance of a retreat for our family as well as a hub for entertaining. We knew we’d have guests staying so wanted to give them their own space,” says Sara, whose design features a lower guest floor, while the top floor is the designated kitchen and entertaining space.
“After that, we knew we wanted our family to sleep on the same floor, as well as have the bathrooms and laundry conveniently located nearby to make everything we needed accessible,” she adds.
Hayden and Sara Vale share their tips for designing and constructing your forever home.
Take inspiration from your surroundings
For their home design, Hayden and Sara said they simply looked outside for inspiration. “We realised we lived in such a stunning part of the world that we wanted to bring influences of that inside, as well as join elements of it on the outside,” Sara says. For that reason, they describe SouthHouse as “featuring a modern urban aesthetic with a neutral palette that provides the perfect backdrop for accents of colour, texture and coastal influences”. Think high quality, handpicked materials and finishes to deliver a timeless style, like concrete and timber, while presenting a balanced, yet luxurious feel.
Plan, plan and plan
No matter what scale the renovation, Hayden and Sara advise superior time management and organisation skills. “With any renovation big or small you need to be on top of everything – from your ideas to planning, trades to styling, have your end goal clear in your head, so you can see every detail,” Sara says.
And the two areas of the home that require the most detailed level of planning are the kitchen and laundry. “In the kitchen you’re after the golden triangle between fridge, cooktop and sink with the right amount of bench space in between to make preparation convenient, while the laundry requires the right distance between the basket, bench space and the washer and dryer, to make your life easier,” Sara says.
Know what you want your kitchen for
While on planning, purpose plays a big role when it comes to your kitchen design, say Hayden and Sara. “Ask yourself: Will it be for entertaining, quiet nights in, a family or singles or everything?” Sara advises. Use your response to that question, to help decide what appliances you will need.
“If the space allows for it, we always go for a big cooktop and oven because we like to entertain; however, if that is not in your budget range, nothing will stop you from choosing what is right and works for you in your space,” Sara says.
Consider feeling over trends
Rather than being beholden to changing trends, Hayden and Sara recommend focusing on creating that homely feeling you’ve always dreamed of. For them, because they both come from large extended families, an entertainer’s kitchen was key. “We wanted our kitchen to be the showstopper, so we knew we had to make a statement here, making sure we had a kitchen that could do a dinner for two or could take on a party of 50.”
To achieve this, the couple invested in the Electrolux 681L Dark Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator, 90cm Multi-Function Pyrolytic Oven, which self-cleans and the 90cm FlexiBridge Induction Cooktop.
“We chose dark stainless steel appliances as we wanted them to cohesively work with the navy joinery and brass trimmings instead of jarring against it,” says Sara. This theme continued through to the laundry, weaving timber and navy into that zone, too.
Understand your household habits
Speaking of laundries, Hayden and Sara have this advice when it comes to choosing appliances. “You don’t need to go for the biggest, just what works for you and your family the best.” They recommend knowing your lifestyle and garment care habits and choosing what fits.
For Hayden and Sara’s limitless washing basket filled with construction site uniforms and messy kids clothes – that meant sizeable capacity. “In our main laundry, even though there are four of us, it seems like the loads are never ending, which is why we chose the 9kg Heat Pump Dryer, Wi-Fi Enabled paired with the 10kg Front Load SensorWash Washer, Wi-Fi Enabled. It’s a godsend because I can throw everything I need to in the one go, but it also helps reduce the power bills, because I’m not having to wash five loads of whites to get everything cleaned,” she says.