Discover how a California Bungalow transformed into a modern coastal masterpiece.

Project Name
Balmoral Beach House
Project Type
Nettle Construction
Downie North

What was a humble California Bungalow located on a sloping block in Sydney’s Balmoral Beach, has been transformed into a sun-drenched, family home that now complements its magnificent coastal location.


Owners Claire and Steve Jolly, hired architects Downie North to turn their tired California Bungalow into a Modern Coastal dream home. Their brief was to open up the interior by creating a larger, more open-plan living and dining space, add more bedrooms and bathrooms and of course, bring in the light.

They also wanted to reconnect the garden to the house and update the exteriors to reflect the colours of nearby Balmoral Beach – all without sacrificing the original appeal of California Bungalow design.


The California Bungalow hit the heights of popularity in Australia during the 1920s and is especially prevalent in our suburban areas. Its hallmark brick exterior, gabled roof and front porch often hid an internal layout of enclosed spaces and sparse opportunities for natural light; making them the perfect renovation project for those who appreciate the external charm but want a modern, more livable interior space.


What was created was a cathedral-like seven metre high ceiling over the central dining room that makes the area the focal point of the house. Four north-facing skylights release light into the house, transforming the home into a relaxed oasis that only reveals itself as you walk through the property.


“We drew inspiration from the beachside location and local landmarks of Bathers Pavilion and Rotunda, and Grotto Point lighthouse”, “The weatherboards balance a desired informality and relaxed coastal quality with the formalism of the original bungalow, whilst reading as a cohesive unified whole,” she explains.


Hardie Linea™ Weatherboards are ideal for creating a Modern Coastal look. The smooth texture and clean modern lines provide the distinctive charm of a deep shadow weatherboard without the maintenance of timber.

“We’re just so happy with the end result, explains Claire. “We’ll be enjoying this renovation for many, many years to come.”

Architect: Downie North

Builder: Nettle Construction

Photographer: Katherine Lu

For more Modern Coastal design ideas download our Modern Look Book.

For renovation ideas download our Home Renovation Guide.

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