A Positano palette: Sorrento House

A Positano palette: Sorrento House

For interior designer Fiona Lynch, renovating an Italian client’s seaside retreat opposite the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club was an opportunity to honor her legacy. As Fiona, who is the director of the Melbourne-based Fiona Lynch office, explains, “He made it clear that this home needed to be warm and layered, with a down-to-earth palette of material selections informed by raw instinct. . So we opted for a coastal Positano mix of bleached pastels that meets the clarity and simplicity of Italian rationalism.

The kitchen, in particular, embodies Fiona’s signature sultry minimalist style, with a visually stunning center island. It is a monolithic anchor composed of stacked close-ups of staggered ‘Tundra Grey’ limestone on a honeycomb-shaped travertine base, which pays homage to the Italian coastline.

A palette of bleached pastels evokes the Italian coast – and the client’s heritage. Artworks (left to right): Dane Lovett, Pan After x Alice Oehr.

Image: Dave Kulesza

Fiona’s guest, family and friends spend most of their time in this room, and it really is the heart of the vacation home. Making the space even more impressive is a large credenza (also in ‘Tundra Grey’ limestone), a polished brass hood and Gabriel Scott’s Luna pendant lamp with brass fittings. Metallic finishes add an alluring shine to an epicurean color palette of luscious creams, oyster grays, and caramel browns, without intruding on the practicality of the space. And as gorgeous as the island is, it’s also extremely labor-intensive, allowing food preparation on the raised element, while a laptop can be accommodated on the lowered edge.

Beach colors and smooth surfaces abound in the understatedly sophisticated bar.

Beach colors and smooth surfaces abound in the understatedly sophisticated bar.

Image: Dave Kulesza

Elsewhere in the house, wheat-toned raffia wallpaper, open-weave wool and linen curtains, and sage-hued polished plaster walls complete the organic, tactile palette. The sage tone has been used in the master bathroom to create an immersive, sanctuary-like space that may be small but still exudes a cozy feeling of luxurious seclusion. “We wanted the bathroom to have an inviting visual appeal from the bedroom, and so the sliding door helps save space,” says Fiona. “We also wanted it to have a refreshing vibe, like a rock pool in the shallows of the ocean.” A full-height gray curtain evokes ripples on the surface of the water, and silver travertine floor tiles add to the overall cool feel, complementing the coastal theme.

No one would suspect that this 1970s beach house from Merchant Builders had been radically altered five years ago and had been buried under a warehouse-style renovation when the client first approached Fiona. Her design has respectfully embraced her bones to transform the interior into a warm and welcoming vacation home. And it transports all who use it to another place, where its haunting beauty truly resides.

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