Emma Lane, with her husband Tom Lane have made their mark on some of Byron Bay's most idyllic locations, including The Range and previously The Farm. Interior designer Mel Gubbin of Avenue Twenty Two has been creating some of the most dreamy and curated spaces... the kind that Pinterest boards are made of!
They open up about what inspired them in creating this space, their design influences and what's next on the horizon.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to where you are today?
Where I am today is a mum of 4, as well as the creative director of all our passion projects - which pretty much revolve around properties that are yet to reach their full potential. We see a vision for a site or building and then work to bring it to life. I think through doing this for several of our own homes, we have developed a passion - particularly in the sustainability space - often utilising repurposed materials and trying to work with what is already there to minimise our footprint on the planet.
Avenue Twenty Two evolved from my love of design and support of a wonderful network of creatives here in Byron Bay. After relocating to the Northern Rivers 8 years ago, I started working in Fashion Admin where I was fortunate to be exposed to some amazing Interior Design opportunities with Spell! The management team at Spell (Elizabeth, Isabella and Lisa) nurtured my interest in Design and intrusted me with some foundation projects with really helped form my Brand and establish my new direction. Fast forward to present day, I have been running Avenue Twenty Two full time (and then some…) as a creative studio for approaching 4 years!
What was the inspiration behind the concept?
The inspiration for The Beach House, was the natural environment that it sits upon for the colour palette, and our summers spent in Europe - barefoot and fancy-free (it seems a long time ago now, since our feet touched European shores). The inspiration behind the concept was to provide a relaxed environment, beautifully styled to enjoy for a number of different usages, from luxe family escapes, retreats to conscious conferences.
I was immediately drawn to Emma and Toms savvy business and environmental awareness as exciting clients. They balance sustainable practices and the conscious coupling of business initiatives and experiences that bring value to consumers, yet are layered with education and work towards thoughtful experiences.
The Inspiration of The Beach House East Coast draws from it’s natural landscape and coastal environment + eco system. The aesthetic is based on natural, reclaimed materials and a relaxed, yet refined, beachside aesthetic.
Emma, why Ballina?
We began our journey in Byron with our project The Farm at Byron Bay. The focus was on sustainability and building a working farm that was open to the general public – to enjoy and to learn about real food. We then turned our focus to the ocean and how we could champion sustainability and protection of the local coastal vegetation. We hadn’t set our sights on a particular location, we just wanted it to have a view and connection to the ocean. So, when we stumbled across an old Christian Camp looking a little dishevelled in East Ballina, and thought it was perfect for what we had in mind. With good bones and already the approvals to hold conferences and functions for 250 people we purchased the property. Byron had already experienced a boom and become a hustling busy town, we thought East Ballina would be a perfect spot to create the feel of a ‘barefoot boardroom’, a little way away from civilisation (while still easily accessible via daily flights to Ballina airport), so guests could relax and experience its true calmness and seclusion.
How long did the venue take to come to life?
We worked quite swiftly! I was building and designing The Range at Byron Bay at the same time as renovating The Beach House. So, it was great having Mel to help pull the project together. Her attention to detail and design ideas were invaluable at The Beach House. We would have at least a daily meeting onsite and a quick lunch stop at the Belle General. We completed the project within 18 months.
What is your favourite space in the venue and why?
I love the entrance to the Bath House. The beautiful rattan ceiling that we designed, and the gorgeous signage that Mel found for the bathrooms - so elegant and unique.
I love arriving to the main entrance courtyard. It has hints of all the key finishes of The Beach House property; natural stone, soft renders, reclaimed timbers and a wild mix of native plants, all sitting pretty beside our huge statement palm.
Describe the vibe of the Beach House in three words.
Natural, barefoot and sophisticated.
Effortless, Resolved, Scenic.
Mel, what first sparked your interest in design, and how did your career develop from there?
I’ve always been very into ‘aesthetics’ starting as a teenager. My poor parents tolerating the fad painted feature walls in their heritage home, the questionable teen décor purchases and walls covered in magazine images leaving greasy blu tack stains everywhere – I think I owe them a few apologies looking back haha.
As I started working in Interior design in Byron (whilst working my regular full time office job with Spell), it became quite apparent that it was the path I was meant to lean into. The more I let it become my focus, the more new clients were attracted to what I could possibly bring to their projects and it really just flowed from there.
Emma, how did you initially know this space was for you?
How can you not fall in love with a large expansive beach and ocean outlook surrounded by coastal bushland? The space feels a million miles away from anywhere, a little oasis, but with so much potential.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
We wanted it to feel relaxed and approachable - like you had arrived at a good friend’s beach house. You could just kick off your shoes and relax but yet still feel inspired, work and play, carry out board meetings barefoot. That’s when we coined the phrase – the ‘barefoot boardroom’!
Simple luxuries. A relaxed and clean space you could walk into and both enjoy the styling on offer, or even inject some of your own personality in some of the hire spaces. It’s a beautiful canvas to use paired back and enjoy the natural landscape and ocean views, or layer up and make your own depending on your event. The accommodation is always styled ready to walk in and enjoy straight away, holiday mode from the moment you open your door.
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
We are excited to recently launch Family Luxe Stays at The Beach House – a package tailored with adventure and family connections in mind. The Beach House can be hired exclusively by a family for a holiday away together to unwind and reconnect. We have private access to both Angels and Shelley Beach – as well as a Toy Shed full of toys to explore the kilometres of coastline – literally on our doorstep. With less overseas travel possible, it’s the perfect family holiday - Ballina airport is just a short drive, and it is 20 minutes to Byron Bay.
Outside your direct experience, who have been some of your most pivotal design influences?
Axel Vervoordt and Studio KO.
Obsessed with AD home tours (Architectural Digest) – It would be a dream to one day have a client open their doors to a home I have designed to be featured.
I often go down the rabbit hole of Designer research, so it’s an ever changing list of influencers and inspiration.
What excites you about the future of the Beach House?
The Beach House is a blank canvas that anyone can hire and make it their own for a day, weekend or couple of weeks if they’d like. We have created our properties to feel like an extension of a home – we want people to feel relaxed and connected with each other and the stunning natural surrounds during their time at The Beach House. Like with all our projects, The Beach House has a give-back element where we contribute a percentage of funds to our environmental trust. The funds are then donated to local environmental projects, currently - Positive Change for Marine Life, Ballina Coast Care and Australian Seabird Rescue - to support the amazing work they do.
It’s an amazing location for groups both large and small to tailor a bespoke experience. I love that regardless of the event type – people who visit all get to experience the beautiful views, natural landscape and contribute back to the coastline with initiatives put in place by The Lanes – it’s a wonderful business ethos.
Emma, do you and Mel have similar individual tastes and styles? And how do you bring that into working together?
I feel that we have similar tastes but also our own touches crept into elements, we were a good team, constantly bouncing ideas of each other, it was a fun process!
Emma, describe your personal interior style:
Relaxed Australian meets European with natural texture and warmth.
Mel, Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
It all starts with the clients and getting to know them. In order to deliver a product that exceeds expectations, you need to interpret the way the property wants to be experienced, and examine how you can make their space something unique to them. Anyone can creative a Pinterest moment, but it’s far more fulfilling for me to create a connection for clients to their property. A great space not only ‘looks good’ it needs to evoke feeling.
Emma, what’s next for the Beach House and you personally?
Tom and I are in the process of building a portfolio of properties under our Masterbrand - ‘The Lane Estates’. Each luxury property – set on beautiful acreage - will be unique and offer guests a chance to escape for a little while. We want each guest to be completely immersed in each property – with complete concierge services to tailor itineraries and a food and wine offering by private chefs – both for the duration of the stay, guests will experience the best of the Byron region during their luxury escape. Each property of The Lane Estates will have that ‘European meets Australian’ feel, with conservation and sustainability – as always, underpinning what we do. The Beach House could form part of that portfolio.
Mel, what is next for Avenue Twenty Two?
For the short term, we have some very exciting new residential projects in the pipeline which will unfold in some iconic locations over the coming few years.
Past this, the brand might look to diversify and see what else we are ready to tackle in the world of design….watch this space.