We take a closer look at eight Australian and international homes designed for retreating by the water. 

Homes by the water – an ever-changing panorama – are where we look to find a deeper connection with nature. But, equally, coastal homes require sensitivity to their environment, so elements including salt, sand and wind require careful consideration when selecting materials and finishes. We explore the design decisions behind a selection of kitchens built by the water, be they a river or the sea – and why endurance of materials and appliances is key to ensure their durability.

Produced in partnership with Fisher & Paykel 

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est living the dart studio john irving architects 22

The Dart by John Irving Architects

Designed by John Irving Architects, The Dart is a family holiday home set on rural farmland north of Auckland, New Zealand. Triangular in form, the remote sanctuary enjoys uninterrupted ocean views on one side and farmland on the other. Full height glazed windows accentuate its scenic outlook while maintaining solitude and sanctuary. Water views are further accentuated through the mirrored splashback in the kitchen, while vertical timber cabinetry references the cedar-clad exterior outside. True to their signature design philosophy, John Irving Architects selected appliances that could be integrated for a minimal finish. The Fisher & Paykel stainless steel freestanding oven and cooktop is the only visible appliance within the kitchen space. All other appliances, including the Fisher & Paykel integrated rangehood, freestanding French door refrigerator and integrated CoolDrawer, are neatly housed behind timber joinery.

Bellows House by Architects EAT

In the seaside town of Flinders, Victoria, Melbourne-based firm Architects EAT created a family hideaway with experimental materials and textures. Within the home, two inverted pyramid-shaped concrete lightwells push the boundaries of conventional design. Mimicking the antique ‘Bellows camera’ the lightwells provide all-day illumination. This light, combined with expansive doorways, allows the home to connect deeply with its landscape. Architects EAT leant on natural materials within the kitchen, including timber, brickwork, and concrete, to continue the connection of place. Stepped edges along the sides of the island bench, tap into the unique pyramid contours. 

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The island bench edging delicately reflects the colossal inverted-pyramid lightwells within the home.

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Denison Rivulet Cabins by Taylor and Hinds Architects

Located in Tasmania, just north of Bicheno, sit three geometric cabins to accommodate holidaying couples. Designed by Taylor and Hinds Architects, the cabins are as practical as they are refined, housing surprisingly understated interiors. Each cabin’s kitchen space, while unique, is sympathetic to its environment. Hard-wearing timber cabinetry is paired with durable brass or copper benchtops and splashbacks – complemented with matching tapware. To maintain a refined aesthetic, Taylor and Hinds specified the Fisher & Paykel induction cooktop, as well as the integrated fridge-freezers. An integrated single DishDrawer dishwasher is ideal to meet the needs of small groups. At the same time, a built-in combination microwave oven provides flexibility without sacrificing functionality. 

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Seaside Abode by Norm Architects

On the Danish island of Zealand, just an hour from Copenhagen, Norm Architects reimagined an existing coastal cottage into a zen retreat. Panoramic floor-to-ceiling views showcase the seaside outlook while also bathing the home in natural light. An earthy palette drenches the interiors, blending nordic cottage style with subtle Japanese wabi-sabi elements. Norm Architect’s pared-back approach to the kitchen layout includes a natural stone island benchtop and rich timber cabinetry to allow the ocean views to remain the focal point. All kitchen appliances are integrated and tucked away out of sight to maintain the minimalist design aesthetic.

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Patio House by OOAK Architects

To savour the ever-changing panoramas from Karpathos Island, Greece, Patio House was designed as a protected sanctuary for a French-Swedish couple. Imagined by OOAK Architects, Patio House showcases the dramatic ocean vista across the Agean sea. OOAK favoured natural and robust materiality, including concrete, stone and timber, to withstand its surrounding windy and rugged landscape. As a result, the kitchen is practical and pared back. Delicate olive green timber cabinetry combines with marble benchtops. To complete the minimalist aesthetic, OOAK specifies a gooseneck tap, under-mount sink and induction cooktop.

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Clovelly Apartment by James Garvan

With a modest 62 square metre footprint, what Clovelly Apartment may lack in size, is compensated with highly sought-after Sydney water views. A project close to his heart, James Garvan transforms his own run-down, single-bedroom apartment into a soothing abode for his growing family. In the light-filled kitchen, a contemporary palette including limed plywood joinery allows the ocean backdrop to take centre stage. To maximise storage, the kitchen features overhead cabinetry and shelves while also integrating appliances wherever possible. Subtle raw brass fittings and marble benchtops create a refined form, while oak underfoot adds warmth.

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Villa Mandra by K-Studio

On Mykonos, Greece, K-Studio designed a six-bedroom summer home perched atop a ridge overlooking the Aegean sea. Clad with raw stone and timber, the home allows the sparkling water views and the nightly sunsets over the neighbouring island of Delos to take complete focus. Two white-washed buildings are connected via a communal kitchen and living space, adjoining a courtyard that overlooks the pool and gardens beneath. A palette of earthy tones reflects the building’s exterior, where timber and muted clays contrast with modern fixtures and furniture. The communal kitchen features timber-lined ceilings, wooden cabinetry and complementary stone benchtops. At the same time, an induction cooktop and integrated appliances allow the kitchen to integrate seamlessly with the living zone and adjacent courtyard.

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