Gemma Peanut. You may know her from her time as a Neighbours actress, but she is now an online photography teacher and one half of parenting podcast We Don’t Have Time for This with her bestie Kate Reeves. Her most recent role has seen her enter the design world through the renovation of her Cabarita Beach holiday house Yo Caba Caba.
Originally built in 1990, the home was relatively untouched when Gemma and her husband purchased it with the intention of using it as a holiday home for themselves as well as listing it on Airbnb. After considered listing it without touching the interiors, the couple decided that it didn’t spark joy in its original state and a fun and colourful renovation ensued.
“Our house in Sydney is very Zen with a neutral palette that provides a calm backdrop against the chaos of raising small children. I knew I wanted the beach house to be the antithesis of that. It’s loud, fun and joyous,” says Gemma, who used to live in LA and drew inspiration from her visits to Palm Springs when creating the interior. “I love the vivid colours of the 50’s and the furniture shapes of the 70s,” says Gemma.
Armed with myriad Pinterest boards, Gemma came up with the interior concepts and hired a renderer to create drawings of the designs. But with so many ideas she found it difficult to consolidate them and commit – especially when it came to the home’s statement kitchen.
“I was most nervous about the colours. Pink and blue are not your typical kitchen colours and I was worried that it would look like a bad gender reveal!” She needn’t have worried though – the kitchen’s sorbet tones, curves, retro-inspired tiling and brass pendant light fittings are more than Insta-worthy. “I figured that one of the main reasons people choose an Airbnb over a hotel room is for the kitchen, so I really wanted it to be quite special,” says Gemma of the renovation’s biggest splurge area.
The nearby dining and lounge rooms are furnished with a mix of high and low-end buys; a bargain moss green Early Settler sofa sits alongside a more expensive leather one while a McMullin & Co coffee table sits atop an affordable Miss Amara Rug. “One of the biggest splurges would be the Balmy Studios table in the dining room but we bought a lot of affordable buys from Temple & Webster too,” says Gemma.
While wallpaper features throughout the home it’s at its most effective in the bedrooms where it’s paired with custom bedheads from Land Home. “The bedheads were my favourite purchase as I got to choose all the fabrics for them and they really elevate the rooms,” says Gemma who sourced bed linen from a variety of sources including Target and Bonnie and Neil.
Unsurprisingly, the renovation has proven a success and the home has been solidly booked all summer. Gemma stayed in the home during the renovation, but her husband hasn’t even slept there yet! “We’re really excited about staying there in March,” says Gemma.
“I’m not an interior designer so I just chose what I liked and followed my gut. Ultimately this home has been an opportunity to explore my alter ego – it allowed me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do.”
Photography: Tanika Blair