In a country where the ocean is part of our national identity, nowhere is more prized than a beachside home. Easy access to cool water and surf, or a sandy promenade on a summer’s day, is a sought-after luxury, with a finite supply maintaining consistently high property prices.
“There’s an amazing, healing property about the beach,” says architect Nick Tobias of Sydney’s Tobias Partners, whose own home is only a short walk from the shore.
Real estate agent and interior designer Lynn Malone, of Queensland Sotheby’s, agrees.
“Fresh sea breezes, easily accessible beach walks and invigorating morning swims are universally appealing and aspirational. In terms of property value, limited availability and high demand continue to make a beachfront home an attractive investment.”
Tobias and his team have worked on a number of beachside properties that, in some cases, were only centimetres from the ocean. At the north headland of Bondi Beach, one was literally built on the rocks.
“From the bottom of the home you duck out the side passage and onto the rocks, or down a boat ramp and into the water,” he says. “During high tide, occupants step into ankle-deep water. If there is a lot of swell, that water is thigh-deep.”
In this situation, both structure and design are key to stability. “The building emerges out of stone and features a sandstone base that we worked on with a coastal engineer to ensure it was strong enough. There are also concrete elements designed to reflect wave force if you have a high tide,” says Tobias.
Other projects have involved properties where the owners go out the back door, cross a reserve and are on the beach.
“What all homes have in common includes a pin-coded gate for security and privacy and an outdoor area designed to cater to ocean-based lifestyle interests,” he says.
“An outdoor shower and a foot washing tap are typical inclusions. Somewhere to hang a towel and a wetsuit is also essential, as is some sort of racking and storage well-designed to accommodate surfboards, skis or a kayak and other ocean toys.”
With most beach houses subject to salt spray, weather-resilient materials are another consideration.
“For projects where there is any exposure, we always include outdoor access to hot water for taking salt off glass, paintwork, door tracks and windows as well as any mechanical or technical paraphernalia,” says Tobias.
“Hot water dissolves salt and even hosing door hinges and gateways regularly is important. In houses that are truly coastal, silicone spray needs to be put in critical joints of tracks, runners, bearings and so forth.”
Malone adds that a kitchen conducive to entertaining and covered outdoor living spaces with a barbecue enhances the appeal, as does outdoor lighting for evenings when the ocean is dark.
“Indoors, natural textures, light and freshness are features that resonate, with operable windows and cross ventilation, multi-use living spaces and easy maintenance making beach life enjoyable from the moment of arrival,” she says.
Beachside property for sale L9 Bedarra Island, Bedarra Island QLD 4852
One of only seven privately-owned residences on Bedarra Island, this architecturally designed villa enjoys a front-row view to the Great Barrier Reef including Dunk Island, and is accessible via helicopter or water taxi.
“With the choice of two private beaches, it’s the ideal place to enjoy a swim in the bay, laze on a hammock watching whales, collect oysters off the rocks, or use the glass-bottom kayaks to explore the reef,” the agent says.