BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

Maximising Space in a Copacabana Beach House

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Brad Swartz Architects make the most of an existing beach house for a couple and their teenage daughter, ready to sleep up to 16 of their family and friends.

Architect Brad Swartz is passionate about how we can live more efficiently in our cities. Known for reworking inner-city apartments, the architect believes it’s great design not the overall size of your space, that enhances quality of life.

This time a couple Brad Swartz had worked with on a Sydney apartment approached him to redesign their Copacabana Beach House on the New South Wales central coast. The keen travellers and collectors wanted a place to retreat to with their teenage daughter that they could also share with their extended family.

We sat down with Brad Swartz to learn more about how he revised the original home by drawing on sustainable design principles and the spirit of the Australian summer beach house.

Produced in partnership with Fisher & Paykel

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 The Brad Swartz Architects team had to devise a different solution for providing a fly screen off the main living area, making way for the bi-fold screens. “They fold right back so the view is uninterrupted,” Brad says. “It has become a real feature of the home and the light filters through beautifully.”

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Familiar with Brad Swartz’s work, the couple asked the architect to work within the existing footprint to create a functional, hardworking beach house that could sleep up to 16 people. “They wanted to have a beach house that they could spend extended periods of time at but have the whole family around and be able to share it,” he says. Breaking apart an original hexagon living space, the team redesigned an open-plan living area at the core, with all rooms, including the seven bedrooms coming off this space.

Brad Swartz and his team leant on their understanding of small spaces, leading to playful design resolutions in the beach house such as the kid’s bunk rooms. “Three of the seven bedrooms are small bunkrooms that have sliding doors between them so they can all be connected into one kid’s bunk area – or they can be closed, like a cabin-style room,” Brad says. 

“The challenge is always to design a kitchen that doesn’t feel like a kitchen. It helps to keep the living space relaxed and calm – which is quite critical when you’ve got sixteen people in the house.”

– Brad Swartz

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The team wanted to design a beach house where displaying things collected over years of travel could be celebrated.

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The kitchen was designed to not feel like a working kitchen in the open plan living area, honing the monochrome scheme throughout.

Manifesting Brad Swartz’s design ethos, the Copacabana Beach House is ‘no bigger than it needs to be’. “We tried to be quite efficient in using as much of the existing house as we could,” he attests. The architect was challenged with the project’s southeast orientation, using skylights to pull bright north light into the house. “There were certain things you could do better in terms of orientation, but there is also an element of strong sustainability in not rebuilding,” Brad adds.

One of the architect’s favourite use of space in the beach house is the ‘little snug’; a bonus play area they could introduce because of the high ceilings. “There is a central core to the house which has two bathrooms tucked into a laundry, half the kitchen and a snug above it,” Brad says. “We tightly packed everything into the core, to free up the rest of the house.”

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Three of the seven bedrooms are small bunkrooms that have sliding doors between them to become one large kid’s bunk area.

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The ‘snug’ above the kitchen is one of Brad Swartz’s favourite spaces in the home, designed as an extra play area for kids.

A key move in opening up the living spaces was the large ‘treetop’ deck – an important feature of beach house living. “Primarily occupied in summer, the deck establishes a really strong indoor-outdoor relationship,” Brad says. “Having a large deck which in size almost reflects the living and dining area, was a big part of meeting the beach house brief,” he adds.

Beach houses are often where objects collected over time and travel are displayed – which was especially true for the owners of the Copacabana beach house. Brad says the couple had accumulated interesting stories – and mementos – from their time living, working and travelling overseas. They’ve celebrated this through a pared-back material palette of Australian hardwood floors and joinery, white walls and open shelving.

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Challenged by the home’s southeast orientation, Brad Swartz used skylights to pull bright north light into the house. 

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The kitchen calls on the home’s clean, monotone palette, ready to withstand family gatherings of all sizes. Brad deliberately stuck to this palette, to ensure the kitchen felt less of a kitchen; to avoid feeling like you’re lounging in the kitchen area in the living/dining space. “The challenge always is to design a kitchen that doesn’t feel like a kitchen. It helps to keep the living space relaxed and calm – which is quite critical when you’ve got sixteen people in the house,” he laughs. 

Integrated appliances are fundamental to the look and feel of the kitchen. But the specification of Fisher and Paykel appliances, including the oven, induction cooktop, integrated rangehood, freestanding refrigerator and dishwasher, runs deeper in the overall design intent. “Premium appliances in a beach house are all about sustainability,” Brad says. “It’s a move away from throwaway culture and ties in with the selection of everything else in the project that’s built to last.” 

Brad Swartz Architects have carefully rearranged the original Copacabana holiday home to embody a considerate and honest use of space and materials, relative to its coastal context. 

Explore Fisher & Paykel integrated appliances in the est living Product Library here

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A large ‘treetop’ deck meets the beach house brief, synonymous with indoor-outdoor living.

“Premium appliances in a beach house are all about sustainability. It’s a move away from throwaway culture and ties in with the selection of everything else in the project that’s built to last.”

– Brad Swartz

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