Jamie Blakey is well known for her sense of style – a little rock ‘n’ roll, a little easy glamour, all effortless. It makes perfect sense then that, together with her husband Ronnie (one of the most recognisable names in Australian surf media), Blakey set out to reimagine a 110-year-old cottage on the New South Wales North Coast. “Fashion and interiors are very much alike,” she tells us. “[They’re both about] conceptualising, mood boarding, sourcing materials, and working with artisans to bring your vision to life.” Named The Black Ace after a shade of paint used in the renos, the holiday home in the beachside town of Yamba is the couple’s first foray into Airbnbs.
Designed to facilitate what Blakey calls “barefoot living”, the space is comfortable but unfussy. White walls and floors feel fresh, and carefully curated decor adds warmth and charm. (Special mentions go to the perfectly patinated leather sofa, butterfly chairs and custom-framed art.) The focus of the home is the generous outdoor entertaining area that connects the main house with a second space (a games room coined ‘The Bunk House’ with a convertible pool and ping pong table and dartboard), via a timber deck.
Thoughtful touches are everywhere, from a working fireplace (adorned with hand-painted Mexican tiles), and SONOS sound system to Smart TVs complete with every entertainment app you can think of. Between the two spaces, The Black Ace sleeps fourteen in nine beds across four plush bedrooms. The rooms are fitted with blackout blinds (for uninterrupted sleep-ins) and feature Carlotta+Gee linen. Blakey chose a mix of Natural Stripes and Natural, and Olive and White bedding for a fresh feeling throughout.
Read on for the scoop on how Blakey transformed a run-down Yamba home into a surf shack oasis.
CG: Tell us about The Black Ace – where did the idea to create this space come from?
JB: The Black Ace is our family holiday home in Yamba, NSW. It’s a cozy fisherman's cottage that Ronnie and I renovated into a fun little family-friendly home. It was important to us to be in the village and by the beach so that our holidays were easy. And everything is within walking distance, so everyone has independence. Now we love sharing it with others via Airbnb too.
CG: What is your perfect day at The Black Ace?
JB: An all-day beach hang! I love it. It’s all about the sun, blue skies, clear water, mellow waves and food. We can stay down there for eight hours. It's our family’s fave.
CG: Was The Black Ace your first Airbnb?
CG: It was. We opened it in 2015. We're about to open another Airbnb next door to The Black Ace called Sundowner, which will be a completely different vibe. It’ll be a luxury, adults-only, ‘60s-style Californian surf shack with two or three-bedroom bungalows and a couple's garden studio. Like The Black Ace, it’s in Yamba and a short walk to the beach. We will be putting in a pool and an infrared sauna too. The design has mid-century vibes, but I also wanted it to feel warm and happy.
CG: Do you do the interior design for all your projects?
JB: Absolutely – I love the process from concept through to execution. I love working with all the tradespeople to bring the idea to life. They’re the ones that make the magic happen!
CG: What inspired you to make a move from fashion to interiors via these incredible Airbnbs?
JB: Fashion and interiors are very much alike. At the start of a design project, it’s about conceptualising, mood boarding, sourcing materials, and working with artisans to bring your vision to life. It’s the same process with interiors. I also love the business side of both industries. Doing the creative without the business feels very one dimensional and unfinished for me. I love the change.
CG: You’re about to open your second Airbnb in Yamba, what’s the town's allure for you?
JB: We live in Avalon, but Yamba was where Ronnie and I used to holiday at Christmastime. We started going when we first met in 1999, then went back every year and stayed with our friends' family. We fell in love with it. We kept an eye on the market there for years until these properties came up.
CG: How do you find the inspiration for the design of these homes?
JB: We like to restore character – make them shine brighter and stand prouder than they ever did. We want our properties to have a personality that speaks to people, the way they spoke to us when they were run-down and unloved. The inspiration comes from the original building, and we layer from there.
CG: What do you love most about creating a perfect sleep environment for your guests?
JB: It makes me so happy when guests tell me they’ve slept great! With the holiday homes we set up, it’s essential that the bedrooms are super comfy. We invest in great mattresses and mattress toppers to make the beds extra cloud-like, big fluffy doonas, plus an assortment of pillows so you can always find your perfect pillow match. Linen is the next important layer. C+G has the best linen in the world! I’m not sure how you get your linen to feel so silky, but it's heaven sleeping under your sheets. Every single guest we’ve had has commented on how comfortable the bedding is, and we take great pride in that.