A Charming Australian Beach House Made For Year-Round Coastal Living

There’s a cosy, almost cabin-like feel to Alepp Soap founder Kate Ryan and brewer Dave Bonighton’s house, making it appropriate for both chilly winters, and summer days spent on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

The couple initially bought the Shoreham property as their holiday home in 2015, before making the permanent move to the beach years later. They underwent a major renovation designed by Preston Lane architects to mark the transition, creating the warm and welcoming home you see today, surrounded by a glorious garden.

Like the original weatherboard 1950s building, the renovation champions timber both inside and out to sit harmoniously within nature and age like fine wine.

See more of our home of the month below!

Lucy Feagins
Editorial styling

Annie Portelli

Supported by Dulux

The Mornington Peninsula house and garden of Kate Ryan and Dave Bonighton.

Communications consultant and founder of Alepp Soap Kate Ryan, and brewer Dave Bonighton. Fermob table. Hay Palissade series seating from Cult.

Fermob table. Hay Palissade series seating from Cult.

‘We have heaps of help from the gorgeous Jo Ferguson who is a local and understands peninsula conditions very well,’ says Kate of the garden.



‘We are also lucky to have a native nursery right next door so we get the best plants and advice.’ Fermob table. Hay Palissade series seating from Cult.

‘We have koalas, echidnas, frogs, powerful owls, sugar gliders, tawny frogmouths, cockatoos, kookaburras, king parrots. We feel we need to make sure we plant things that are beautiful but also attract the critters. We also have a flow beehive that’s just produced the first season of honey,’ says Kate. Fermob table. Hay Palissade series seating from Cult.

Oblica Shaker fireplace. Jardan Lemmy sofa. Great Dane Furniture rug. Coffee table from Grandfather’s Axe.

Left image: Coco Flip Cooper Pendant Copper lights. Dining chairs and table from Modern Times. Right image: Fermob outdoor table. Hay Palissade series seating from Cult.

South Drawn pendant light. Daybed upholstery by Olive Stone.

South Drawn pendant light. Daybed upholstery by Olive Stone.

‘This is the threshold between the old and the new part of the house. We had a lot of discussion about how we would manage this,’ says Kate. ‘I’m glad we kept the old original part of the house — there’s a lot of history in those rooms!’

Købn towels. Dinosaur Designs soap dish holding Alepp Soap.

The main bedroom in the original portion of the house. Kip&Co bedding. Painting behind bed by Mick Turner.

Lucy Feagins
Editorial styling

Annie Portelli

10th of January 2024
Garden planting design

Shoreham, VIC/Bunurong Country

Garden design

The home of communications consultant Kate Ryan and brewer Dave Bonighton was originally a typical weatherboard beach house — airy, simple, and beautiful.

After purchasing the property in 2015, Kate and Dave were lucky enough to meet with both of the previous owners, who shared stories with them about the home’s past.

‘It was originally a two-room shack and the family used to travel by bus from St Kilda for summer, and the kids used to camp in tents,’ says Kate. ‘They came and stayed here one weekend and gave us some amazing photos of the house over the years.

‘We also met the people who owned it after them and who did an excellent extension in the 2000s that served us well for four years before we renovated!’

Kate and Dave initially used the property as a holiday house, before moving to the beach full time after their children finished high school. They embarked on a major renovation in preparation, commencing in 2019.

‘The house was great as it was, so we didn’t feel the need to demolish and start again. Rather, we just wanted a big glass wall in the living area to make the most of the beautiful garden and make it more insulated,’ explains Kate.

Designed by Preston Lane architects and constructed by Damon Armstrong Builders, the renovation has instilled the home with a newfound cosiness and connection to nature thanks to rich timber surfaces.

Windows frame views of the Amanda Oliver-designed garden — with planting designed by Jo Ferguson — at every opportunity. ‘We wanted to make sure that wherever you are inside, you can see trees and birds and animals going about their business and feel a part of it,’ Kate says.

Kate describes the home as feeling like a ‘boat/cabin combo’ that offers a warm, inviting, and restful feel. ‘We used earthy tones and soft comfy furnishings and lots of wood — things that are low maintenance and will get better with age,’ Kate says.

There’s plenty to do in the area, but you’ll rarely find Kate and Dave outside of their home, where they enjoy regularly entertaining friends and family.

Kate also appreciates the home’s studio that serves as a dedicated workspace for running her social enterprise, Alepp Soap.

‘We love to cook and to eat and the kitchen design and deck leading out to the pizza oven in the garden gets a lot of traffic! Winter or summer the house works really well for big groups,’ says Kate.

‘We don’t tend to stray far from the house and the beach!’

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