Interiors

A Home For Family and Friends In The Northern Beaches of Sydney

by Sabrina Smelko

Inside Caleb and Tess Guinery‘s home, there’s no shortage of love, adventure, creativity and chaos. Caleb, a stunt-man for film and television, and Tess, a graphic designer and visual communicator, just welcomed the first addition to their family — their daughter, Peaches Wilde. A few years prior, they made the move from the coastal town of Mollymook, Sydney to a small apartment by the sea, nestled in the northern beaches of Dee Why. It wasn’t long before they fell in love with the relaxed beach lifestyle with restaurants, shops and cafes just a stone’s throw away, so once they discovered that they were expecting a child, they were determined to find a way to stay in the location they had fallen in love with. They managed to make their tiny studio apartment work for a while, but once Peaches came along, they quickly realized they needed a bigger space, but as luck would have it, an apartment became available just down the street! The home was cluttered and dark when they first toured it, but Tess saw potential in the space’s high ceilings, large windows and square footage — but perhaps the biggest perk was discovering that close friends lived right next door.

Since they moved just a year ago, their late 60’s apartment has become so much more than the space they live; it’s where Peaches took her first steps, among many, and has been host to countless dinner parties with friends and family. “Caleb cooks and I set the ambience and light candles,” Tess explains, “but we enjoy quieter nights too… at least once a week we play Skip-Bo and enjoy a glass of wine whilst listening to Caleb’s extensively and carefully curated Spotify playlist.” Caleb and Tess’ passion for their friendships is something they hold dear, and though the home is still a work in progress, perhaps Tess says it best: “Our life isn’t perfect but we love what we have been blessed with and we love our home.” –Sabrina

Photography by Alex Caryle

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A family portrait of Tess, Caleb and 18-month-old Peaches Wilde in their living area.
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This mint cabinet is the last piece of vintage furniture they own. "Before we moved to Sydney our entire place was filled with vintage and second hand furniture," explains Tess, "When Caleb started working for Mr and Mrs White our house began to get overhauled by beautiful timber designer furniture. I love it but I refuse to let this last piece go!"
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Their living room is also lovingly named their "greenhouse" to accommodate their love of plants.
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The floor-plan of their apartment.
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The view of their lounge and balcony beyond it.
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The studio nook in the living area featuring a desk that Tess designed. "In the early days of Caleb’s apprenticeship, I asked '“When you get really good can you make me this?'" explains Tess, "Three months later I arrived home to this set up in our apartment! He had been building it in secret as a surprise. I was completely overwhelmed and I am forever grateful. What a guy!"
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They had no plans with their living room, but over time it evolved from a lonely leather couch by itself to a completed, homey room, finished with a wall rug for warmth and a cowhide rug from IKEA to add texture.
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"We named our daughter Peaches Wilde," Tess explains, "Somedays we regret the choice of her middle name, but she certainly lives up to it!"
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Above he couch is a Polaroid from their wedding, a picture of palms curated from a Mollymook thrift shop, and a floor rug hung from the wall that Tess scored for $20.
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The coffee table, that has been overtaken by magazines and a jungle of green, was custom designed and created by Caleb as a gift for Tess's 30th birthday featuring a secret drawer.
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Tess's favourite nook filled with her favourite things: plants, magazines and natural light.
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"The morning sun is something to be witnessed live," says Tess of this nook in their living area.
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Tess enjoying the simpler things in life: tea, timber and vinyls.
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The table pictured on the right acts as both a desk and a dinner table. "Thinking creatively about space in an apartment can sometimes be tricky," says Tess, "but this has worked wonders for us. We have 5 timber stools scattered throughout the house that act as plant holders when they are not being used to seat guests."
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When it isn't being used as a dining table, it's nestled against the wall and used as a host for vignettes and decor.
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Throughout the home you'll find these little pieces of art: on walls, sitting on shelves and hidden in other nooks. They were made by Tess and Caleb when they first moved to Sydney at a time when we were both slugging the 9-5pm and feeling creatively dry. "These were made to create an end to a creative drought!" says Tess.
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Peaches in her bedroom which is filled with natural light. The drawers were built and designed by Caleb as a solution to the lack of closets in the apartment.
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On top of the drawers sits a salt lamp gifted from dear friends and a collection of childhood memories.
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Tess's favourite item in Peaches' room is the framed painted fabric piece on the left made by her younger sister who is an artist. "She used it to wrap up my birthday gift, not intending it to be a piece of art," Tess explains, "I liked it so much I framed it."
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Peaches playing in her tent ontop of a hand-made crochet blanket which was gifted to Tess and Caleb from a young couple at church when Tess was pregnant. "It’s actually been a staple piece in creating the aesthetic direction for Peaches bedroom," Tess says.
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The tee pee was another gift from a close friend, given to Tess and Caleb just before Peaches was born. Tess says, "She must have secretly known that we were creating a child who has an amazing imagination and loves to play pretend!"
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This view from Peaches bedroom into Tess and Caleb's bedroom. "The hallway rug is a constant source of inspiration for me as a designer. I feel like it sums up my aesthetic," says Tess.
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Their master bedroom oozes with natural light. This piece hanging above their bed was a gift from Caleb’s parents who run an art gallery/cafe on the south coast. "One day we walked in and fell in love with this piece called “Fire on a mountain” by Noel Forbes," says Tess, "At Christmas we un-wrapped it as a gift! We love it!"
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Caleb created this clothing rack using American oak and copper pipe, another brilliant storage solution to not having closets.
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The bed is a Mr and Mrs White design and creation. "The Whites are a generous couple we get to call friends! We love their furniture but we love them more!" says Tess.

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Comments

  • Wow, could these people make my life seem any more boring? Stunt man, countless dinner parties, beaches. Le sigh…

  • It’s so heartening to see this – I happen to be renovating a very, very neglected mid-60’s unit in Dee Why with my partner at the moment (and going all-white, too).

    We’re almost at the stage of being able to move in (just about everything in the unit was broken when we started) – even after that there are more things that will need to be fixed, so I can definitely relate to the work-in-progress status!

    After all this work it’s lovely to see such a beautiful space in a similar unit in our suburb. I can’t wait to add some greenery to ours….

  • I absolutely love the ladder desk! Do you think Caleb and Tess would be willing to share instructions or plans on the beautiful piece?

  • I absolutely love your ladder desk. My little sister (25) recently moved in with me and we are googley eyed over it.

    Do you mind sharing how you made this?

    She leaves for two weeks tomorrow and id love to surprise her when she returns.

  • Oeeeh, I like the ladder desk!!
    I want to make it to, can you tell me where you bought all that stuff? Or how to created it? Xx

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