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Vagli Oro marble kitchen benchtops and splashback

Calabash Bay Lodge by Carole Whiting

Calabash Bay Lodge by Carole Whiting Studio finely balances form and function, crafting a cohesive guest retreat hidden along the Hawkesbury River.

Tasked with elevating the client’s luxury guest accommodation northwest of Berowra Waters, Carole Whiting sought to balance the striking waterfront views with an elegant and intuitive interior. Principally used as a guest retreat, it was imperative that interior spaces were easy to navigate and designed to create a gentle and welcoming appeal for visitors – “we wanted the user to relax, feel elevated in spirit and at home,” comments Carole.

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Having worked with the client on a previous project in Palm Beach, Carole had established a good working relationship and easy ‘shorthand’ as a foundation to work from. The kitchen formed the crux of the project and needed to work as a domestic kitchen for guests while accommodating the operational needs of an in-house chef. “The kitchen footprint is not extensive, so the island bench was relocated centrally and curved to provide space for guests to use it as a bar space,” she explains. A cocktail service area is tucked into the pantry side, while back-of-house amenities are cleverly concealed below the stairs, maximising every inch of the space.

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“Curves were important as a softening motif,” Carole says, reflecting on the sculpted quality of the island bench. “It gives a furniture-like quality and adds interest to the guest side.” Unique Vagli Oro marble, sourced from Artedomus, forms a natural centre piece; the gentle crimson and caramel veins are balanced by a complementary palette of pale grey and light timber cabinetry and lustrous gunmetal hardware. A Hotarulantern by Barber & Osgerby provides a lightweight addition which Carole suggests “mimics the curves of the overall narrative.”

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An extendable oval table to the adjacent dining room creates an inclusive setting to better facilitate conversation, while the use of mirror allows glimpses of the water to be enjoyed by all. Beyond, the design team reoriented the living room to maintain focus on the wide-ranging river views. A new daybed by Australian designer Adam Goodrum allows users to perch on either side, partaking in the interior or exterior setting as desired.

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Familiar with the client’s interest in Australian art, Carole carefully selected a work by Joshua Yeldham from the client’s collection and another by Tracey Deep, a woven, horizontal expression that draws the eye across the room, was purchased especially for the project. Natural hemp rugs by Nanimarquina complement the natural toning in the artworks, while a North Light by Vibia hovers over the sofa, creating mood with a gentle footprint that ensures the view remains focal.

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“The bathroom has a magnificent vista directly to the water, so it was imperative to experience that view from the bathtub,” Carole says. Windows were extended to accommodate the dimensions of the deep Agape Immersion bathtub (designed by leading Shanghai-based architecture and design studio Neri&Hu) with a soothing, organic form. Storage could be kept to a minimum, limiting intrusions and allowing for a broad arched mirror above the vanity. “I like my bathrooms and kitchens to rest gently on the interior landscape and not overwhelm,” she reflects. This quiet and minimalist ambition inspired Carole to select a number of quality products from Artedomus.

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“We started the project with the beautiful Vagli Oro stone. Everything grew from there,” she says. “Vagli Oro set the palette direction – at first glance the stone is quite neutral, although it has lovely figure, but the colour that threads through the stone, crimson and gold, brings so much to the scheme.” In addition to the stone, Agape bathware from Artedomus, including timber Dot Line rails, adds warmth and geometry. “We are big fans of Agape for bathroom items as well – beautifully designed elements that work well with our design DNA”. Meanwhile, Fiandre Fjord porcelain tiles from Artedomus, “complete the picture. They are soft and neutral but have enough patina to contribute to the overall sense of space without disappearing,” she comments.

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The close and long-term working relationship between Carole Whiting Studio and Artedomus was key to ensuring smooth progression of the project, especially given its short timeframe. “We have a great working relationship with Artedomus – they often help us with design solutions,” she says. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

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Drawing on such connections, Calabash Bay Lodge maintains a sophisticated but welcoming overtone throughout. “Creating a home that is also a very elegant retreat is what we strive for on every project,” Carole reveals. Through thoughtful planning and a strategic approach to materiality and form, Carole Whiting Studio has crafted an elevated and comfortable retreat where the views of Calabash Bay take centre stage. As she reflects, “it is a finely tuned version of our core ambitions as a studio: to provide beautiful, personal and functional spaces that enhance the wellbeing of our clients.”

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DESIGNER Carole Whiting Studio
PHOTOS Pablo Veiga
STYLING Atelier Lab
BUILD Sherocon
LANDSCAPE Secret Gardens
JOINERY Blakes of Sydney
FURNITURE, ART AND OBJECTS Carole Whiting Studio
CLIENT Wild Luxury
WORDS Hayley Curnow

This article originally featured on The Local Project.

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