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Coastal cool

Combining the popular Hampton style with the American farmhouse, this striking property by Custom Coast Homes oozes sophistication and charm, and has made a strong impression in its NSW seaside suburb.

Coastal cool

Combining the popular Hampton style with the American farmhouse, this striking property by Custom Coast Homes oozes sophistication and charm, and has made a strong impression in its NSW seaside suburb.

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HIA member Dean Lawrence loves working with clients to create something unique at his NSW Far North Coast building business. And that’s exactly the result of this Coastal Farmhouse project, with its head-turning mix of styles, and perfect match of form and function.

The two-storey home is mini-Hampton meets American barnyard with a combination of cladding, steel, timber and stone – a marriage of ideas that has a growing band of admirers across the region.

Dean operates Custom Coast Homes at Casuarina on the Tweed Coast servicing clients from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast. He learnt his trade with his builder father in Brisbane before heading to the Gold Coast, then settling over the border with his wife and four daughters.

Starting out on his own in 2008, Dean built his first home on the Gold Coast and now builds four or five custom homes a year, ranging from $500,000 to $1.2 million. He manages to fit in the occasional renovation, depending on timing, scope and market demands.

But it’s new builds that captures his imagination, and this one in his own patch was a pleasure to work on. ‘It was just a fun build,’ Dean says. ‘It’s a bit of a standout in the area. There’s nothing else like this house.’

Integral to that success was the relationship and creative input from the clients. ‘It definitely shows that when the client and builder work well together it pays off,’ he says.
The two-storey home's style is mini-Hampton meets American barnyard. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
Recycled Ironbark beams support the gable roof of the treated Spotted Gum outdoor deck. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
Armed with a good eye for design and swag of ideas gleaned from Instagram and Pinterest, the clients went to Dean requesting a farmhouse look to set it apart from other coastal styles.

Building in a seaside environment poses particular challenges. If not done properly, sun, salt and sand can turn the great Aussie dream into a nightmare.

Dean gets the basics right with orientation, designing for the conditions, such as employing cross-ventilation and high ceilings to harness those cooling sea breezes. ‘I’ve built quite a few houses that haven’t needed airconditioning because you get such a great flow with the air,’ he says.

This particular home does have airconditioning but the clients say they hardly use it. 

He also uses the best products available to suit the environment, such as galvanised or stainless steel.

It’s a nice flat block but digging into sand, something Dean is used to, can be problematic so waffle pod foam squares were used to ensure a stable foundation. ‘When they first came out people were against them but if it is done correctly, they’re a really strong foundation,’ he explains.

The external facade is quite simple – all James Hardie Hardieflex fibre cement panels with pine battens, while the Trimdeck Colorbond steel roof was a less expensive alternative to the original idea of shingles but still able to achieve that rural look.

With the thousands of metres of battening involved, Dean sealed everything with a flexible sealant rather than No More Gaps to last long term without the need for painting down the track.
The builder nailed the basics: correct orientation for cross-ventilation and high ceilings to harness the sea breezes. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
The clients approached Custom Coast Homes for a farmhouse look to set it apart from other coastal styles. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
The home features a combination of cladding, steel, timber and stone materials. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
Upstairs, the louvre windows allow the air to be directed, even when it is raining. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
But it’s the striking custom-made barn style garage doors that commands the eye. Supplied by J&B Doors from Kingscliff, they have Cedar VJ panelling with a Cutek Walnut finish.

Then there is the hardwood rail fence to add to the rustic picture. ‘You could actually put a horse in that yard and it wouldn’t look out of place,’ Dean says.

Black awnings enhance the front further, providing shading and more depth to offset the high gable.

Switch to the rear and there is another striking timber feature, this time recycled Ironbark beams from Kennedy’s in Brisbane, supporting the gable roof of the treated Spotted Gum outdoor deck.

The structure, with its powder-coated black stainless steel brackets, looks like it has always been there and always will be. This is a home that breathes and takes advantage of the area’s beautiful climate, with tall, glass, black-framed doors with colonial bars (Vantage by Windowmaker) opening on to the back entertainment and pool area, allowing the air and light to pour in.

The same kind of doors open onto the front deck from the downstairs bedroom. From the front door, a two-metre wide hallway flows straight through to the kitchen, and open plan living area.

This flow is unimpeded by the open American Oak staircase, with black stringer handrails from local company Pottsville Forge. The original design used a closed staircase but Dean convinced the clients to go with an open one so you can see through to the rear of the home. ‘That’s the thing I really enjoy with building, it’s a dynamic process where you’re always shooting ideas and working out the best options.’ 

Upstairs, where there are bedrooms and another living area, louvre windows allow the air to be directed, even when it is raining. Dean matched the flooring to the staircase and the warmth of the popular pre-finished oak is complemented by the stone work of the feature fireplace.
Black stringer handrails are paired with American Oak treading. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
The whole build took only seven months for an overall cost, including the pool, of $850,000. Photo: Andy Macpherson Studio
The internal walls are white Hardie Groove and the kitchen cabinetry matches that look, something that took agonisingly precise work from the cabinet maker. ‘The whole cabinetry had to be designed around these VJ lines to make sure that everything looked symmetrical and we didn’t end up with 30mm lines at the end of the cupboard,’ Deans says.

‘He had to adjust the widths of the cupboards and drawers to make all the lines work. And that was throughout the whole kitchen. All the cabinetry in the house has these vertical lines.’

The whole build took only seven months for an overall cost, including the pool, of $850,000.

‘With the Hardiflex cladding it goes up quite quickly, it’s just the battening [that takes time]. By the end the chippies were happy not to do any more timber battening that’s for sure!’ Dean says.

But it’s the attention to detail and going that extra mile for the grateful clients that seals the deal on this unique coastal farmhouse and proves Dean Lawrence is a master of his trade. 

Coastal Farmhouse at a glance


Custom Coast Homes


Casuarina, NSW


  • Roofing: Trimdeck Colorbond steel
  • External cladding: Hardieflex fibre cement panels
  • Garage doors: Cedar VJ panelling, with a Cutek walnut finish, J&B Doors in Kingscliff 
  • Flooring and staircase: American Oak; black stringer staircase handrails, Pottsville Forge
  • Windows and doors: Vantage by Windowmaker
  • Kitchen: Quantum Quartz stone island benchtop
  • Bathroom: porcelain tiles; vanity 2 pac VJ joinery by G&A Cabinets
  • Fireplace: Masport fireplace with random weathered granite by 3D Stone Tile & Pavers
  • Deck: treated Spotted Gum
  • Backyard awning: recycled Ironbark beams, Kennedy in Brisbane.