Sum­mer beck­ons

Spring is a splen­did time to spruce up your bach, writes Colleen Hawkes.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - At Home -

What­ever you call it – a bach, crib or hol­i­day home – this is a place where you go to chill out. A place where you don’t have to keep up ap­pear­ances.

And that’s prob­a­bly why baches, tra­di­tion­ally, have been repos­i­to­ries for all that cast-off fur­ni­ture, crock­ery and linen you no longer want in your home; a mish-mash of ev­ery­thing you once owned, no longer want or even like, but fig­ure you could still use at the beach.

But here’s the rub. Isn’t this the very place where com­fort re­ally mat­ters? How com­fort­able are you sit­ting on that old sofa with the sag­ging seat? What about that aw­ful hard dou­ble bed that ended up at the bach – you don’t even get a good night’s sleep. Or maybe you bought your­selves a de­cent bed, but rel­e­gated that hard one to the spare room where your guests curse all night.

I stayed in a beach bach in an idyl­lic lo­ca­tion re­cently. The place was filled with ev­ery bit of 70s pot­tery and macrame the own­ers had re­fused to part with – re­mem­ber salt pigs and owl mugs? A lot of that stuff is back in vogue, but this felt a bit like a vin­tage mu­seum.

Yes, there’s al­ways a place for nos­tal­gia, but maybe it’s time to jazz up the bach for sum­mer. It doesn’t take much – a bit of paint, some new up­hol­stery, cush­ions, linen and cheap, but com­fort­able fur­ni­ture.

Bach owner and artist Mela Greenslade has up­hol­stered the fur­ni­ture in her fam­ily’s Marl­bor­ough Sounds bach with colour­ful out­door fabrics.

“I used th­ese for all my so­fas and cush­ions be­cause they are su­per prac­ti­cal,” she says. “Luck­ily, there are many stun­ning out­door fabrics now.”

But Greenslade doesn’t over­look nos­tal­gia. “Our bach is full of old trea­sures which re­mind us of peo­ple and places. Hav­ing stuff like this is im­por­tant for us, but it does help to spend a bit of time try­ing things in dif­fer­ent places. You’ll prob­a­bly be sur­prised what looks good where.

“And you can hang more than just pic­tures; we’ve got cop­per pans from the Mid­dle East on one wall and metal stars used in house-build­ing from the US on an­other wall.”

Other bach own­ers opt for more themed items, such as oars, glass floats or life buoys, and they can work well. But some­times it’s best to avoid pick­ing up ev­ery piece of flot­sam in the beach shops – the wooden seag­ulls, 3D framed beach hut and Jan­dal art­works – be­cause it can be just a bit too much.

Hand­crafted art­works, such as a shell mir­ror made by the chil­dren on a wet day at the beach, will carry a lot more mean­ing than mass-pro­duced kitsch.

Think about a fresh coat of white paint on old sur­faces, or bleached timber pan­elling teamed with fresh linen and tow­els. Try group­ing col­lec­tions, rather than spread­ing items all over the house.

Yel­low­fox de­signer Shel­ley Brock­liss says a mix of old and new fur­ni­ture al­ways works for the bach and is eas­ier on your pocket. “Pop­u­lar 60s and 70s retro styles give baches a lived-in and mem­ory-laden feel. Look out for sec­ond-hand Formica ta­bles and fine-legged chairs with plas­tic seats,” she says. “Old timber fur­ni­ture also fits right in – if it’s a lit­tle shabby that’s fine, just white­wash it or paint it white. A soft pal­ette of blues and greens will work well with this kind of fur­ni­ture – take your cues from the bush and sea sur­rounds.”

Greenslade also rec­om­mends think­ing about what you need to en­ter­tain at the bach, be­cause there are al­ways vis­i­tors.

“It’s lovely to have a place that works for just one or two peo­ple as well as a crowd. Loads of stools are handy – ex­tra seat­ing, ex­tra ta­bles with­out tak­ing up loads of room.

“You have to have loads of games too,” she says. “Get ev­ery­one off their screens. Chi­nese check­ers and Twenty Ques­tions are pop­u­lar with all ages at our bach.”

ORNAMENTALS

• En­sure you match herba­ceous plants with con­di­tions they like. Such plants are avail­able for sunny, dry, hot, damp, shady, cool spots and many com­bi­na­tions thereof.

• Plants for shady places in­clude arthro­podium, berge­nia, clivia, Iris sty­losa, liri­ope, om­phalodes and rud­beckia. Lik­ing semi-shade are al­strome­ria, cam­pan­ula, heuchera and thal­ic­trum. While aqui­le­gia, Iris japon­ica, Ja­panese anemone and tril­lium like a bit of mois­ture as well.

• For damp or wet spots in full sun, try astilbes, fil­ipen­dula, he­le­nium, hosta, ligu­laria and monarda.

• •

Blue and white will al­ways work in a bach, and white paint will freshen up the in­te­rior of an older bach while cov­er­ing a mul­ti­tude of sins.

A mix of old and new fur­ni­ture works well in a bach, and cre­ates a re­laxed, lived-in feel.

Artist and bach owner Mela Greenslade has used out­door fabrics on all the so­fas and chairs in the fam­ily’s Marl­bor­ough Sounds bach.

Bleached tones teamed with white bed linen are a match made in heaven.

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