Since winning The Block in 2018, Hayden and Sara Vale have turned their attention to renovating a former beach shack in Stanwell Park, on the NSW South Coast, into their family's dream home.
They began the project in September 2018, demolishing 90 per cent of the original shack, with plans to create a stunning five-storey residence featuring ocean and parkland views from the top floors.
With four large bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms and three separate living areas, "SouthHouse", the name given to the very personal project, 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," Sara says.
As the couple knew friends and family would be staying they wanted to give them their own space.
Sara came up with a reverse design featuring a lower guest floor while the top floor is the designated kitchen and entertaining space to take advantage of the stunning vista.
"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 says.
"For our home design, we 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."
SouthHouse features a modern urban aesthetic with a neutral palette that provides the perfect backdrop for accents of colour, texture and coastal influences.
The Vales went for high quality, hand-picked materials and finishes to deliver a timeless style.
Their number one tip is - no matter what scale the renovation, superior time management and organisation skills are a must.
"From your ideas to planning, trades and styling, have your end goal clear in your head so you can see every detail," Hayden says.
The couple say 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," Sara says.
"The laundry requires the right distance between the basket, bench space and the washer and dryer to make your life easier."
The couple believe it is more important to focus on creating a homely feel that suits you rather than worrying about trends.
"Because we both come from large extended families, an entertainer's kitchen was key and we wanted it to be the showstopper.
"We knew we had to make a statement here, making sure we had a kitchen that could do a dinner for two, take on a party of 50 and anything in between."
The Vales went with the Electrolux brand.
"We chose dark stainless-steel appliances [French door refrigerator, multi-function pyrolytic oven and induction cooktop] as we wanted them to cohesively work with the navy joinery and brass trimmings.
"We always go for a big cooktop and oven, if the space allows, because we like to entertain. However, if that is not in your budget, you can choose what is right and works for you in your space."
The same applies to laundry appliances.
"For our limitless washing basket filled with construction site uniforms and messy kids' clothes, that meant sizeable capacity."
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