New bride Elicia Murray finds a stylish beach bolthole for her 'mini-moon'.
Pearl Beach House had me at the Chupa Chups. A dozen or so of the little suckers, to be precise, in a glass jar above the kitchen sink. Not Minties or Fantales - way too pedestrian - but bright, beautiful lollipops. They're playful and perfect.
A sense of fun pervades this 1950s weekender in the fashionably sleepy Central Coast hamlet. From a dwarf figurine on a shelf in a wall of bookshelves to a retro red fire bucket that holds wood next to the open fire, the house does not take itself too seriously.
My brand-spanking-new husband and I are on a "mini-moon" before our honeymoon proper, so we wanted somewhere laid-back with a touch of luxury. We found it - and then some.
While the single-storey house might once have been a modest dwelling, a renovation a few years ago delivered the wow factor in spades. The pad even scored a cover story in an interiors mag, proudly displayed on the coffee table, though the image of the plunge pool does appear larger in print than in real life. In the article, fashion trend forecaster Tony Bannister, who owns the house with hotelier Paul Walters, describes his vision for the renovation as an "industrial beach" thing.
What is an industrial beach thing? A giant enamelled metal lampshade hangs over a CaesarStone bench in the foodie-friendly kitchen. There's a retro typewriter on a table in the entrance and glossy, white painted floorboards. It is industrial in that designer way - so cool it hurts, without the grime of actual work.
Chupa Chups, tea, salt and pepper aside, the cupboard is bare - but there are enough pots, pans, plates and platters to cook and serve up a feast for the whole street.
Around a modern dining table are Parker chairs inherited when Bannister and Walters bought the property - which they had been visiting for years - in 2004.
In the lounge room, a biscuit-coloured couch is big enough for two people to curl up on.
The main bedroom has a firm, queen-sized bed (BYO linen and towels, or pay extra to use a linen-hire service). A heavy curtain serves as a clever room divider, hiding an en suite with a deep tub, a wall of elegantly mismatched old mirrors and L'Occitane toiletries.
The second bedroom has two single beds, which can be pushed together to create a king, and a series of hand-printed photographs of old beach houses on the walls.
The bookshelves house a fabulous array of titles and - my favourite thing - there are dimmers on every light switch. After all, everyone looks better in low light.
On our first evening, my shiny new husband and I stroll to Pearls, the only restaurant in Pearl Beach. We enjoy a classy meal with warm service, including a chat with the owner-chef, who pops out to see how everyone is liking their meal, even though he is alone in the kitchen tonight.
In the morning, we grab coffee from the general store, which stocks possibly the most bizarre array of goods I have ever clapped eyes on. Exhibit A: a basket near the cash register brandishing a sign inviting customers to own a piece of aviation history. Inside is a stack of Ansett sewing kits.
There is a cafe attached to the store that serves a mean pancake stack and offers one of Pearl Beach's best vantage points for people-watching.
Every bit of Pearl Beach is an easy walk away. The house is one block from the beach. When we are not dipping our toes in the water, we wander the streets, eyeing off everything from the few remaining rundown shacks to the look-at-me houses, pondering aloud how long we could put up with a daily commute to Sydney.
On one walk, just past the tennis courts, we stumble on the Crommelin Native Arboretum and follow its winding path through bush and open parkland.
Back at the house, we wash off salt and sand in an outside shower, which, for the neighbours' sake, we hope is not visible from the semi next door.
At night, we cook our first meals together as man and wife and potter about in a honeymoon haze. If you are supposed to start things as you mean to continue, we picked the right place.
Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.
Pearl Beach House
Address 30A Diamond Road, Pearl Beach.
The verdict A little house that makes a huge style statement.
Price From September 1, a minimum two-night stay costs $850 on weekends.
Bookings See stayz.com.au.
Getting there About 90 minutes' drive north of Sydney via the Central Coast Highway. Patonga is about 20 kilometres from the highway at Somersby.
Wheelchair access No.
Perfect for A sumptuous getaway for couples.
While you're there Head to Patonga for breathtakingly good oysters and fish and chips at Patonga Beach Hotel.