Living the dream
Australian House & Garden Magazine|December 2021
Embracing the quirks of this Queensland property, designer Nina Caple added her own deft touches to transform it into a comfortable, resort-style home.
Georgia Madden

Interior designer Nina Caple and her border collie, Kanga, at the front of her unique home. “Although it was originally a family residence, the house had been used as holiday accommodation for some time so it was ready for some love and attention,” she says. OPPOSITE Nina used the same terrazzo floor tiles – a nod to the home’s Italian influences – both inside and out. The salvaged pots were a gift from a friend. Vulcano Tiles Ciottolo Grande terrazzo tiles laid by NCT Tiles.

“The ceilings are lovely and high, but we wanted to cosy them up a bit, so we added timber beams,” says Nina. Seven Sisters artwork by Gabriella Possum. Stevie Camel rug, Jardan. B&B Italia ‘Ray’ sofa and ‘Husk’ armchair, both Space. Cushions from Jardan, Bonnie and Neil and Hale Mercantile Co. Arena coffee table, En Gold. Metro Side Butch table, Porcelain Bear. Vessels on shelf from Dinosaur Designs. Ceramics on coffee table by Mel Lumb, Nina’s son Lachie and Virginia Sin. OPPOSITE “It is such an elegant stair, and the grand foyer it sits in is really a feature of the home,” says Nina. Artwork by Carly Williams. Peppercorn Grey flooring, Royal Oak Floors (throughout).

With some properties, it’s love at first sight. But that’s not always the case. When Nina Caple, interior designer and director of Anchor&Belle, and her husband Nick first spotted this quirky Sunshine Beach villa online, they weren’t even sure about going to see it. “It was designed and built in the 1980s by local artist John Cummings and his wife Verushka, who had modelled it on Mediterranean villas they had stayed in on their travels. It was this blend of Italian, Moroccan and Greek architecture, topped off with an Italian-style turret. It was almost too over the top to even look at,” says Nina.

But since the couple was eager to find a home in the area that wasn’t a stereotypical beach house, they set their reservations to one side and inspected it with open minds. “When we saw the house in person, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to make it work,” she says. “But it had a special magic and I was struck by its incredible features such as the circular staircase and clover-shaped windows. Both Nick and I liked the idea of tackling a big renovation, so that was it – we were all in,” she says.

The four-bedroom house had other things going for it too, including beautiful northerly views across the national park towards the ocean, and a location just 200 metres from the beach that would allow the couple’s children Lachie, 13, and Mia, 12, to squeeze in a surf before they head off to school. “We moved to the Sunshine Coast from Melbourne seven years ago and this house really suits the barefoot lifestyle we love up here. It feels like we’re permanently on holiday,” says Nina.

“The thing we love most about the home is its grandeur,” she says. “It has 3-metre-high ceilings, big, airy spaces and an abundance of natural light. It has all the quintessential elements of a Mediterranean home for moderating temperature so it stays cool – we’ve never once switched on the airconditioning. The chunky walls have been plastered so they look and feel soft and rounded, shaped by hand, and the finishes are really textural and full of character.”

Rather than diving straight into a reno, the family lived here for eight months before so much as picking up a paintbrush. “It gave us an opportunity to get to know the home’s quirks and charm – it really shaped the renovation,” says Nina.

The first step was rationalising the layout, which included moving the kitchen so it connects to the dining area and a newly raised pool, opening up the previously blocked-off artist’s studio to create a children’s retreat that opens to the backyard, turning a balcony off the main bedroom into an ensuite, and the dining/ sitting area next to it into a walk-in wardrobe and home office.

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