Professional surfer and Olympian Sally Fitzgibbons has opened the doors to her stunning beachside home. Perched on the Gerroa headland in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Highline House has been inspired by nature and drawing from the land, sea and wildlife, it was a project from the heart for Sally, who was born and bred in Gerroa, and worked closely with her builder and friend, Simon Rees, to reimagine the original weatherboard beach shack.
“This project became my anchor and why I love the Gerroa headland so dearly,” says Sally. “My builder Simon and I love nature so much and let it guide us through the project, capturing the essence and beauty of the view through many portals, viewing windows, balcony spaces and garden settings.”
The resulting home is the height of Australian coastal living, a luxe and stylish revival that manages to retain the relaxed appeal of a traditional Australian beach shack. It encompasses a main bedroom and ensuite, guest bedroom, bathroom, kitchen/dining, a separate living room, study nook, private gym and swimming pool.
From the exterior, the home exudes a rustic charm, with its white painted walls and exquisitely landscaped gardens. It works to connect with the ocean at every opportunity through both the exterior and interior, with stepping stones, pathways, a large entertaining balcony and a myriad of viewing windows.
As much as Highline House has been designed to capitalise on its stunning views, through the interior, it also works to both capture and resist the fluctuating light of the day. Each room has been finished with premium Luxaflex blinds and curtains.
“The range at Luxaflex window coverings was so perfect to suit my project,” says Sally. “Just like the moods in the weather we experience at Gerroa, the rooms in this house spoke to a mix of Luxaflex treatments. The result allows you to enjoy every room in the house and to make it your own private sanctuary.”
Flooded in natural light, the kitchen dining area features a peaked floor-to-ceiling window, offering the main ocean view from the interior. To complete the aesthetic feel of the space, while also working to filter the heavy afternoon sun, the windows have been finished with Luxaflex Pirouette Shadings. Sally chose a linen fabric in the colourway, “Chamomile”, to harness and beautifully diffuse the light to preference.
Continuing the aesthetic appeal, further windows throughout the interior have been framed by the soft flowing effect of sheer curtains from the Luxaflex Abre range in the colour Froth, adding a further dimension to the elegant finish of the home. The sheer curtains were chosen to complement the Luxaflex Duette Shades which have been used in the front entryway and guest bedroom.
As well as adding an element of style, Luxaflex Duette Shades play an important role in helping moderate the temperature in a bedroom. Their unique honeycomb structure traps air, which provides a layer of insulation to help keep the interior warmer in winter and cooler in summer. The balance of light control, privacy and energy-efficient qualities they provide make them perfect for an Australian beach home.
Recognising that a dark and peaceful space for rest and relaxation is essential in a home that’s abundant in light, Sally selected the Luxaflex Duette shades in a blockout fabric for the main bedroom, which has become a hero moment in her day. “One of my favourite parts of the design, is waking up in the master bedroom, rolling over and pressing the remote control for the shades, and watching them rise,” Sally says. “It slowly reveals the pool, the ocean, the beach and then the mountains, the magic of this just gets me every single time.”
Throughout the interior, texture and neutral tones are layered through a repeated colour palette of white, black, and grey, the neutrality is enhanced vividly by the surrounding blues of the ocean. A scattering of natural elements such as timber and green foliage also works to connect the abundant views of nature.
“Highline House has a unique feel, with quirks that sometimes make it hard to give it one particular style,” says Sally. “It is a beach house when categorised, but it’s also open to interpretation, from the visuals of the salt-crusted rock platforms becoming the inspiration for the kitchen benchtops, to the warmth of the Baltic pine flooring and the history of the restored pieces from the original house, including the front door, oars and lifesaving ring.”
The deck area leading directly from the living room provides a perfect viewing point where one can sit and relax. Assisting again with impeccable form and function is the Luxaflex Evo MagnaTrack Awning, enabling balcony privacy whilst offering advanced sun protection and airflow for a more enjoyable entertaining space. Sally says, “It’s comforting to know that the awning can handle the diverse and unforgiving weather conditions we experience here, as they are engineered, and tested in Australia to handle such conditions.”
For Sally, the most satisfying aspect of the renovation is being able to enjoy the success of the finished project. “It is so satisfying to reach the end of the road and sit on the balcony with family and friends, looking out over my favourite view in the whole world.”