Well-known media personality Deborah Hutton recently renovated her home in Sydney’s beachside suburb, Bronte. Hutton was completely involved in the year-long renovation project from design down to the very last coat of natural oil on her Mafi wood floor.
In this interview with Mafi Timber Flooring, she discusses the renovation, design brief, personal style, material selection and the design outcomes.
What was your dream or grand plan when you designed this home?
I wanted to build my ‘forever beach-house’. The location overlooking the ocean in Bronte was worthy of doing a dedicated rebuild that would last the test of time, both in terms of quality and timeless design. I wanted a beach house not just a house at the beach…there’s a big difference.
When you did the interiors, what were you trying to achieve? What sort of statement were you trying to make?
My brief was to create a house that was timeless in design, a classic beach house that looked like it had been here for some time, so in 30 years it will still look and feel like beautiful. Textures played a big part, weatherboard exteriors, timber post detailing, open exposed rafters, timber flooring, V-groove wall panelling, shaker profiles in cabinetry. All these details were important to create interest and character.
How would you describe your personal style?
Chic, striking a balance between relaxed and refined.
What does this house say about you?
My friends keep telling me the house is very ME…having chosen every fixture and fitting, paint colour and all the furniture, it can’t be anything else I suppose. I entertain a lot, having published a couple of cookbooks so I wanted a home where I could bring friends together, a big kitchen to cook, a massive fireplace for winters, a cellar to hold my wine collection, big couches to cuddle up on. The house holds a lifetime collection of books, artwork, photographs, travel trinkets and collectables.
What is your favourite part of your new home? Why?
Do I have to name just one…I have so many! The stone fireplace takes a commanding position in the living area and is such a focal point, you just want to be in that room. Sitting opposite the expansive kitchen, and looking up to the exposed rafters, out to the ocean, the entire top floor works beautifully. It’s a big room but feels warm and cosy. I had a small wine room built in, hidden behind V-groove panelling; it’s stunning and a bit of a showpiece. I also love my master bathroom, there’s so much texture in the ceramic tiles and an elevated bath, which looks out onto the garden and out to the ocean. I went a bit crazy with marble finishes but it’s a room I love to spend time in, it’s relaxed luxury.
What do you love most about your Mafi floor?
I wanted timber flooring from the get-go, that was never a question as I love the natural appearance of wood and it’s suited the house perfectly. Nothing better than walking on timber and the feel of it underfoot. Mafi ticked all the boxes. It had to be long lasting, sustainable, robust and low maintenance, and also improve with age. The look of the all-natural timber surface is both beautiful and timeless. Everybody comments on it… it underpins the interiors of the house.
Where did you draw your inspiration?
My inspiration was driven from loving the classic Hamptons architecture, that’s where I started. Having been brought up in Queensland, I also love weatherboard houses with lots of timber detailing. The facade of the house also acknowledges a touch of Colonial influence with the crisscross timber balustrade. It’s a mixture of all really.
How important was location for you?
Location was everything and the reason I decided to do a proper rebuild. I looked around the area for years and never dreamt I’d be lucky enough to find a location by the beach, so elevated, facing north east with such an expansive view.
Did you encounter any stumbling blocks throughout the build and how did you resolve them?
There were several small issues but quickly resolved because I rented and lived next door, was onsite and project managed it six days a week. Problems were identified early and resolved quickly. My greatest challenge initially was the architect/ engineers/ builders jargon. It’s a different language! It was frustrating for me to get my head around all the questions, but we worked through it… I kept saying “show me in interpretive dance!”. The most difficult part was the exterior design of the house. I couldn’t get any architect to reflect how I wanted the front to look. A friend from QLD ended up drawing something on a piece of paper that I loved… that was the design of the balustrade detailing and timber posts. It makes the house!
I was looking for a 100% natural timber product that was robust, resistant to the coastal moist air, long-lasting and got better with age. Low maintenance over time was also a massive consideration and with the amount of entertaining I do, it had to be stiletto proof! I tell people to take their shoes off because it feels so beautiful to walk on.
How did you find out about Mafi?
I found out about Mafi through a friend of mine, popped in the Sydney showroom and loved the look and feel of the product. It was an easy choice. I chose Oak Molto Brushed White Oil as I wanted a lighter tone for the floor and the wider profile allows the grain in the timber to really shine.
You can follow Deb’s journey and get some great tips and advice on her Renovation Rookie website.
Photography by @jeslindsay; Built by Virtue Projects; Mafi Oak Molto Brushed White Oil flooring installed by Minogue Constructions.