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Island Retreat

This island getaway renovation project blends practical high-end materials with sophisticated organic design techniques and the latest technologies to create an elegantly timeless and serene weekend escape for the client.

The overall design brief for the project was to creatively transform the existing beach house into a very open and subdued glamorous island retreat that had all the trademarks of Mark’s previous work for the client and with all the practicalities for island living.

All renovation projects come with their challenges – and the obvious extra challenge for this project is that fact that it is on an island with limited access and resources – coupled with a lot of very complicated cabinetry, building works and technology.

When redesigning the kitchen and living spaces on the lower level for this house, the client wanted the area to feel larger (even though there was an existing finite space to work with), have a much larger walk-in pantry, and include a number of high-end mod-cons to complement their own cooking style in the kitchen. Also HAD to have a view and feel like they are part of the party if there were guests.

With the dwelling having a portal-frame skeleton, the team were able to remove all the existing exterior walls in the kitchen and dining area. This equated to about 15 linear meters of fully open space (with only 2 x posts). To ensure maximum openness, oversized Vitrocsa sliding glass doors with vertical mullions only 20mm in thickness were used. Each opening between the portal columns (5m) was divided into two panels each. These doors all move completely out of the way to designated sections on the exterior of the dwelling past the openings…. leaving uninterrupted access to the massive balconies and the views to the ocean beyond. The interior and exterior truly become one.

Mark selected some very durable and practical high-end finishes in the way of Corian®, powder coated steel and aluminium and satin 2 pack – along with various mirrors to assist in creating illusions. There are two island benches – one for cooking and prep and the other for sitting around.

The ‘cooking island’ is a Corian® benchtop and waterfall end with an induction cooktop and seamless integrated Corian® rinse sink. There is a cantilevered end to sit at with a shadowline detail created by several steel plates. Because this island is sandwiched between the next island and the fridge/pantry wall, Mark created a ‘floating’ effect by having mirror on both sides. The work side has a series of doors, drawers, pull-out bins, etc with all the d-ended pull handles being waterjet cut.

The ‘breakfast bar’ is again a Corian® benchtop with the shadowline and steel plate detail and recessed fluted doors at the ends. There are 3 x concealed charging stations in the top noted by the discrete Ultraspace custom ‘UltraCharge’ charging buttons and the overhang on the balcony side is automated to fold down to allow the massive glass doors to slide by – maximizing on internal space. The shelf will not raise unless all the doors are fully pushed away and in their ‘open position’.

The concealed pantry wall houses 2 x fully integrated fridge/freezers, a concealed utilities cupboard and a large sliding that pulls flush when closed to complete the wall. There are also overhead storage cupboards with soft-touch servo driven doors.

The back wall has a fully integrated Corian® sink in a Corian benchtop with a contrast 20mm fluted Corian® splashback that links in design-wise to the laundry splash and 10mm fluting in the Master Ensuite. Fully integrated dishwasher, a fully concealed Vzug combi steam oven, 2 x wine fridges and Zip boiling/chilled and sparking unit are all housed on this wall.

For the walk-in pantry – Mark met the brief by making it 3 x larger than the original. It houses a second dishwasher, commercial ice machine, microwave and loads of storage. The walls of the side and rear of the pantry section that face into surrounding living spaces are clad in VJ (to link in with the beach theme of the house) – up to dado height and the remainder on all sides is mirror to the ceiling. This created a terrific open-space effect and made the entire pantry section virtually disappear.

On the opposite side of the pantry, we created a sitting room and tv viewing area complete with a hanging wood burning fireplace, circular Corian® hearth on the floor (backed with FC) and a 10m long wall of split-face quartz that gets illuminated from the floor which is shared with the billiard room and a newly refurbished table inherited from the property purchase.

Beyond the sitting room is a dedicated media room with electric sofas, incredible surround sound with 2 x subs, an 85inch LED screen and custom cabinetry in Corian® and 2 pack. Nice and dark – the room is lined with sound deadening curtains and decorative interlocking felt 3D wall art that is actually sound baffling. The electric sofas extend to create more sleeping space.

Ultraspace were asked to leave the lower shower room – but spruced up the powder room external vanity by creating a custom illuminated Corian® waterplane bench and matching backlit mirror on a wall of split quartz to tie in with the adjacent tv sitting and billiard rooms.

The laundry is open and in full view from this section of the house, so the cabinetry was designed to link through and be visually attractive as well as functional. It has a Corian® top with integrated custom Corian® washtub, a Corian® and 2 pack combination gable with protruding 10mm aluminium channel shadow detail… and 2pack facing. This is finished off with a gorgeous 20mm fluted contrast Corian® splashback that is illuminated and wraps up and around the return wall to the ceiling.

The transition from the kitchen and dining areas to the entertaining deck is seamless. Ultraspace have created a number of zones on the deck for lounging, dining and the ‘champagne and oyster’ corner. There were a couple of inconvenient (but necessary) posts in the middle of the deck that we have designed into custom underlit Corian® coffee tables with mirror cladding to the posts to help them disappear. The area is illuminated totally using dimmable indirect lighting – both up and down – in various areas as well as discrete Sonos speakers to make for a totally pleasant experience.

Given that Mark and the team were constructing a second dwelling next door at the same time for the family, they were able to sacrifice two of bedrooms on the existing upper level to create a spacious master suite with interconnecting ensuite and walk-in robe. Still leaving an upper guest bedroom, the upper mezzanine sleeping and also motorized sofa beds in the cinema below.

When designing the ensuite, the team still had to be mindful of the existing plumbing – but push the builder and plumber to the limits of possibility and practicality with regards to the new layout positioning.

Mark and the team were able to position the huge curved double shower directly behind the custom bedroom suite and (at head-height) create a curved ‘gun-slot’ viewport through to the ocean using a special plexiglass with Corian® sills. The curved wall was clad in Travertine finger tiles both internally and externally and the space is illuminated with vertical runs of coved LED diffused extrusions with dimmable and submersible strip at various lengths set perfectly into the depth, width and length of the finger tiles. The curved walls and existing raked ceilings added an extra level of difficulty for my expert tiler as you can imagine.

The vanity and oval-ended vanity wall (also in Travertine finger tiles) creates the back of the walk-in double shower which is flanked by reeded glass panels and a custom floor-standing towel rail – which doubles as stiffening for the glazing. The vanity itself is a work of art with all the vertical faces of the thermoformed sides, drawers and top created with finely fluted Corian® with the Corian® basins and top molding into one. There are horizontal breaks in timber grain laminate with rebated sweeps that create areas for hand-pulls. The large oval mirrors with raised timber grain surrounds hinge open to reveal extra deep storage.

My client is an absolute enjoyer and connoisseur of ‘bath-time’ – so we had to nail this one thing in particular – and we did. After we selected the perfect shaped tub (many months of visiting suppliers and test-driving) – the creative began. I wanted to create a feeling that the entire ensuite is a balcony that opens up to the ocean views under and through the surrounding trees. We were able to open up between two of the vertical portal frames to create a 4m wide window that – at the press of a button – could disappear upward into a cavity to leave the lower section of glass as the balustrade. This lower section of glass is frosted for complete privacy until fully in the bath – when at the touch of a button – the glass un-frosts and my client has un uninterrupted view through to the ocean. There is also a fully automated concealed roller blind for full privacy.

The bath itself is housed within a Corian® platform (or hob) with aluminium channel shadow detail to the verticals of Travertine finger tiles and illuminated kick. The bath wall is also Corian® with an illuminated recessed section for extra space whilst seated in the bath – this recess is also finely fluted Corian® with an adjustable and dimmable (low voltage) reading light at the head end of the bath. On top of the bath wall is a piece of custom Corian® art consisting of oval shapes reflecting both the oval mirrors and the custom oval and splayed Corian® door and drawer pulls that are throughout the project. This Corian® art acts as a transparent room divider between the ensuite and the robe and is illuminated by a custom Corian® lightbox at the ceiling.

Behind the bath wall is a custom drawer unit consisting of a ‘floating’ Corian® top and reeded Polytec Calcutta 10 drawer faces in timber grain with Corian® beading to all edges and custom oval and splayed Corian® drawer pulls. This design is flowed through into the Master Bedroom.

The fully mirrored robe doors create the illusion that the space does not end and the reflection of the gorgeous views of the trees and ocean keep going. Internally, the robe is fully specified with illumination and timber grain finishes. The newly added ducted air unit for the upper floor is designed into the ceiling space of the robe area (hence the dropped ceiling) with custom grills in the top of the robe. The a/c travels through the concealed bulkheads of the master bedroom, ensuite and guest bedroom, these bulkheads have also been designed to provide indirect light to the spaces.

As a decorative divider/screen between the ensuite and hallway – travelling past the ensuite and into the master bedroom to create a visible barrier for the bedroom suite, Mark and the team have used 81m of a very realistic synthetic sisal 32mm dia rope. These runs of rope are secured to the floor and have been discretely and cleverly tensioned up in the ceiling space.

On the opposite side to these spaces most of the dividing walls and balustrades have been removed to the two-story void and installed automated vertical aero foil blades… most of them floor to ceiling. This does several great things. Firstly, when not requiring privacy, the open blades create the illusion of no walls and an even better feeling of space. Secondly, when everything is fully open, the airflow is incredible. They can be closed fully to create privacy when required and seal off the areas for air conditioning.

To complete the treehouse on the beach vibe, Mark and the team removed all the exterior walls to the new Master Bedroom, wrapped a new deck around the room and used oversized Vitrocsa sliding glass panels with 20mm wide mullions that disappear to the outside past the space creating a massively open bedroom, allowing the space to become part of its external environment.

The experience of the new Master Suite is very luxurious and soothing. The colours and finishes chosen are soft and organic in nature, and like the kitchen and living areas below, we have (as discussed) taken out as many exterior walls as possible and replaced them with oversized sliding glass doors that slide beyond the openings to create massive vistas – opening to the new wrap-around balcony with view through to the ocean through the surrounding trees wrapping around the home. The feeling is truly like living in a luxury tree house by the sea.

The custom bedroom suite backs onto the curved travertine finger tile shower wall with a viewing gunslot window (framed with a perimeter of  curved Corian®) from the shower to the ocean. The bedroom suite consists of several Polytec timbergrain finishes in laminate and ribbed Calcutta 10 – with intricate curves and hand laminations. There are several complimenting Corian® finishes that often overlap to create shelving, ledges and capping. Under-lighting is also used for indirect illumination and some overlaps are illuminated. There are sensors under the cantilevered bedside tables that operate in darkness to set off a series of subtle 1watt low-set wall lights for illumination to the bathroom.

Not only are there mini tube sensor reading lights imbedded into the bedhead, but Ultraspace have also created two pieces of Corian® art in the form of bedside lights. These shades are made from translucent Corian® and are not only thermoformed – but also fluted to tie in with the ensuite design. The top on the shade again is translucent Corian® with a waterjet-cut starburst design to allow any heat to escape. They are operated from either a single 10mm mini button on the bedhead that also act as a dimmer when held in – or – they can be operated by your phone – as with every electronic device in the property.

To the side of the bedroom suite is another client request – the coffee station. It is again made from Corian®, the Polytec timber grain ribbed Calcutta10 with some custom curving with Corian® beading and capping and timber grain woodmatt panels. Included in this cabinetry is a ‘floating’ underlit reading seat off to the side facing the suspended polished stainless steel ethanol fireplace and the view through to the ocean. The coffee station includes a bar fridge, sink and boiling/chilled/sparkling Zip unit and servo-driven bin.

Ultraspace have removed most of the internal walls to the void and installed automated vertical louvre blades to allow the feeling of total openness and also increase the natural airflow when required. These can also be operated from a phone.

The remaining walls in this Master Suite have been clad in a commercial textured wall vinyl that also wraps around the pelmets which house the massive (up to) 4.8m wide motorized roller blinds.

Project Details

Design By: Mark Gacesa of Ultraspace
Builder: John Cardillo
Joiner: Culture House
Fabrication: Culture House
Photography: Scott Shirley
  • Benchtop
  • Integrated Sink
  • Splashback
  • Wireless Charging Surface
  • Textured Surfaces

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