Serendipity in action

A fateful phone call turned a house building adventure into a family affair.

Go over and buy one!’ was the instruction husband Brad gave Tennille after she told him her parents had just bought a block on the first day of sales at the newly released estate at Catherine Hill Bay. And that’s what she did. On the same day. Over the phone. It was one of two adjacent blocks of land her parents Greg and Cheryl had been considering.

Tennille knew the area well and had visited a nearby pub and frequented the bay for beach fitness classes, but she hadn’t known about the new estate. “We weren’t even looking for a house, but we love to build and we love new estates so when this opportunity came up, we grabbed it,” says Tennille enthusiastically. Brad knew he could trust Greg’s judgment and agreed it was a good option.

They all describe a process with a touch of the Wild West to it. “We didn’t know that you needed an appointment,” Cheryl laughs. “We just walked in and started to talk to one of the sales people. Because there were no roads and the area hadn’t been cleared yet, you couldn’t even go to the block of land you were buying. They would show you on an ipad what the block looked like, and that was it. We didn’t even know whether we would have a view or not.”

For a moment it was almost an even bigger family affair, with Tennille’s brother wanting to buy a block as well. But the unexpectedly high demand had triggered an overnight price increase of more than $40,000 so he didn’t take it any further.

Changing gears

After the initial purchase ‘frenzy’ things slowed down. Land development took three years to complete plus another 12 months for the approval and building process of the two homes. Cheryl and Greg wanted more of a weekender, with enough space for their other grown-up kids and their families to come and stay for a few days.

Greg is a passionate surfer and, being retired, often spends the whole week In Catherine Hill Bay so he never misses a good wave. Tennille and Brad have five daughters, from five to 16 years of age and needed a substantial home with at least six bedrooms and enough space for everyone to both spend time on their
own and to get together, and also for the girls to have their own circles of friends come over.

Tennille knew exactly who she wanted to design her new home. Having seen the work of award-winning building designer Melanie Symington (Seaside Homes) in Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine, she kept a copy of the article expecting that one day she would have Melanie design a home for herself and her family.

And Melanie didn’t disappoint. “We had one meeting with Melanie and that was all that she needed. She came back with a design that was perfect.” Melanie explains, “when I met Tennille and Brad, we understood one another immediately. I am one of five sisters and they were the parents of five daughters!
“The brief was to create a family home that also met the home office requirements of business owners.
“The length of the site allowed me to stretch the home along the southern boundary and open it up through a series of internal and external living rooms to the north.” High ceilings and a beachy feel were at the top of Tennille and Brad’s wishlist.

“The estate here is Hamptons themed and I love that style, but I wanted modern Hamptons with a neutral colour scheme, several verandas and, of course, to make the most of the views,” Tennille says. “It was Melanie who suggested the location of the pool, with the house sheltering the pool area from stiff ocean winds – and the alfresco dining area towards the bay to capture the views.”

Seamlessly connected to that alfresco area, under a soaring cathedral ceiling, is the main living and dining space with the kitchen at its centre and a cosy little sitting area on the side.

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography by Jacob Riordan, Open Angles