Custom-built to suit family with young adults, self-contained unit

Last year, Jodie Cartwright’s sunny dream house went from being a seaside fantasy to a Caves Beach reality with the help of a skilled designer and builder – and she couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

She moved in less than a year ago with her husband, three young adult children and her mother-in-law. The five-bedroom house took a year to build and has three bathrooms, two kitchens and a toilet powder room.

Her mother-in-law has a flat within the house with her own kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.

Interesting details include an excavated five-car garage, a veranda with an amazing view and a constant-depth swimming pool.

“This is my first house that I’ve designed and built,” Cartwright says.

“I’ve done a lot of renovating and project homes, but I never had anything to quite meet my liking. This time I got to do the whole haul, and I did it the way I like.”

Cartwright said she had a very specific idea in mind when she decided to build the house.

Three acclimatised pandanus palms from Shoal Bay grow at the front of the house alongside carefully sourced bluestone boulders. Everything is just as deliberate in the interior.

“Outside I wanted a house that appealed to the eye. On the inside I can keep it classic and neutral, so that if I do decide to update I don’t have to change bench tops, for example,” Cartwright says.

“With the inside I had wood floors with white walls. I kept wood floors because they don’t date, and it’s easy to put a new rug down or change the pillows on your lounge.”

At the moment she’s got a coral and shells theme, which goes nicely with the ocean views.  

“From the front of the house you see the ocean, you see whales and sea eagles.

“It’s nice to see that outlook; I can actually look out and see my son going for a surf in the morning,” she says. “There’s a storm tonight and I can see lightning out over the ocean.”

The inspiration for her house comes from the houses she likes in Northern NSW and Queensland. She has family in Kingscliff and has spent a lot of time in the area. She likes the lifestyle up north, but her business keeps her closer to Sydney.

Her family, originally from Sydney, moved in 1999 to a Central Coast acreage where they had horses and enjoyed riding motorbikes. Eighteen months ago they moved to the salt air and surf of Caves Beach.

“I like the quiet. At the end of a street is a dead end with bushwalks that go out to Catherine Hill Bay and Murray’s beach,” she says.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular place in the house is the veranda, and the entire family can be found sunning themselves there in winter and summer. Friends and extended family come over to enjoy it as well.

“My mother comes from her granny flat, we all meet and we all sit all the time in my barbecue area,” she says. “I wake up and she’s out having a cup of tea and reading the paper.”

The second most popular room is the cinema room, a great spot for getting friends around to watch movies or State of Origin. 

Their pool has an interesting story, being all one depth (2.3metres).

“We call it our big pond. When you go in it gives you an illusion of being bigger than it is because you can’t touch the bottom. There’s a big long step that you can sit on,” she says. “It’s a six metre pool, so you’re not going to get much of slope from shallow to deep anyway; everyone seems to like it.”

Cartwright certainly enjoyed the process of creating her home, and she added that her husband didn’t want to know about any of it. He was happy for her to manage it from start to finish. She loves putting the time and effort into it and she always has new ideas.

“A lot of this credit goes to my builder, Jeff Sinclair from Jedbilt, and my designer, Melanie Symington from Seaside Homes; they’ve done a fantastic job,” she says. “If I ever decide to do it again I don’t know how I’d go, but they made it a lot easier.”  

Once her kids move on she says she might start again at a new location. But, for now, she’s happy to stay where she is, enjoying her family, the sunshine and the sea.

Have a home that could feature in Weekender? We’d love to see it. Emailweekender@theherald.com.au.