Homes: A charm­ing coastal cot­tage

The mo­ment the Pilk­ing­ton fam­ily opened the front door of this coastal cot­tage, they knew no ma­jor makeover was re­quired to im­prove on its per­fect beach bach vibe

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Ady Shan­non. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Guy Fred­er­ick. Styling by Alexan­dra Weston.

As­mall wooden sign hang­ing on the gate of the Pilk­ing­tons’ hol­i­day bach reads ‘Be­ware of the mouse’. When Gael Pilk­ing­ton and her hus­band, Wade, first spied the house five years ago, the sign said ‘Be­ware of the dog’. A ten­ant with a sense of hu­mour – and no dog – changed the word­ing and the sign has been there ever since. This quirky amend­ment is one of just a few small changes made since the Pilk­ing­tons took own­er­ship, and they’ve been care­ful to en­sure each ren­o­va­tion de­ci­sion, like the sign, is in keep­ing with their bach’s idio­syn­cratic char­ac­ter.

Wade, a keen surfer and kite-surfer, had been com­ing to the small coastal set­tle­ment of Waikuku, 30km north of Christchurch, for many years be­fore he and Gael de­cided to pur­chase a hol­i­day home there. Their daugh­ter, Georgia,

was just six months old when they found the ideal bach and the plan was to rent the prop­erty out for a num­ber of years be­fore mak­ing it their hol­i­day bolt­hole. How­ever, cir­cum­stances changed when their sec­ond daugh­ter, Alexis, was born and Gael re­alised she pre­ferred her role as a full-time mum and de­cided not to re­turn to work. “Rent­ing the house out was a long-term goal, but af­ter hav­ing Lexi we thought we’d bet­ter start us­ing it,” Gael says. “Our ten­ants moved to Am­ber­ley and we’re still great friends,” she adds.

Nowa­days, from De­cem­ber un­til March, Gael and Wade shut the door on their Christchurch home and en­joy the re­laxed beach life­style and close prox­im­ity to park, surf and es­tu­ary of­fered by their quirky lit­tle bach.

A bit of a jum­ble

It is dif­fi­cult to tie the house to a par­tic­u­lar style or era but the over­all ef­fect is strangely har­mo­nious. A glass and aluminium front door opens onto the lounge where huge, wood-framed slid­ing win­dows with odd-sized glass panes wrap around two sides of the house. An old-fash­ioned fire­place in the din­ing area has been painted in sparkly metal­lic paint, while the lean-to kitchen at the rear of the home features a hot-pink bench­top.

The pan­elling and floor­ing are sim­i­larly dis­parate. A cosy mix of Turk­ish and woollen rugs cover retro gold-and-cream linoleum, which gives way to a colour­ful flo­ral pat­tern on the kitchen floor. Wade and Gael peeled off old wall­pa­per in the lounge to re­veal dark-stained board-and-bat­ten, which com­ple­ments the rimu-lined ceil­ing.

Gael, a self-con­fessed hoarder and gath­erer of all things vin­tage, has filled the bach with an equally ran­dom as­sort­ment of ob­jects and fur­nish­ings, some of which were left be­hind

by the pre­vi­ous own­ers. “We bought this place lock, stock and two smok­ing bar­rels,” says Wade. “Gael has been putting her retro touch on it ever since.”

Bunk beds in the girls’ room came from Gael’s sis­ter’s garage. Tup­per­ware, Pyrex dishes and kitchen­ware were found in var­i­ous sec­ond­hand stores, while side ta­bles, paint­ings, chairs and couches came with the house. The Sal­va­tion Army Store in Ran­giora has also done well out of Gael. “Wade is al­ways wor­ried about what I am likely to come home with, but this is where I get to en­joy my pref­er­ence for old things. Stuff has just found us, re­ally,” says Gael.

Easy liv­ing

Gael’s fa­ther, a re­tired joiner, pro­vided in­valu­able help with open­ing up the in­te­rior and im­prov­ing the bach’s floor plan while main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of the orig­i­nal dwelling. “He has done an amaz­ing job of mak­ing things look like they have al­ways been there. Noth­ing is square and the an­gles are all dif­fer­ent and funny,” says Gael.

When it came to find­ing ex­tra room for ac­com­mo­dat­ing friends and fam­ily, Gael and Wade came up with a novel so­lu­tion that was per­fectly in keep­ing with the spirit of their bach – they pur­chased a car­a­van and had it towed into the back gar­den, where it now acts as a guest wing.

Wade has re­vamped the gar­den to en­sure it is low main­te­nance. Raised veg­etable and

flower beds have been cleared and lev­elled to cre­ate plat­forms for play equip­ment, and a roll of re­cy­cled as­tro­turf laid un­der the slide and climb­ing frame to keep weeds down. Wade is clear­ing the space un­der the deck to pro­vide a cov­ered play area. “I don’t want to be a slave to the gar­den,” he says. “At most, it takes me 90 min­utes to tidy it from dis­or­derly to sorted.” Wade has other ac­tiv­i­ties in mind – the base­ment has been fit­ted out with surf and kite­board racks, a work­bench and a beer fridge. It is the per­fect man cave.

By tak­ing a low-key ap­proach to their bach makeover and re­spect­ing its in­nate Ki­wiana char­ac­ter, the Pilk­ing­tons have cre­ated an idyl­lic sum­mer re­treat. Dur­ing those golden months, you’ll find a sign at the front door. It reads: ‘Gone to the beach’. •

“We bought this place lock, stock and two smok­ing bar­rels. Gael has been putting her retro touch on it ever since”

Old wall­pa­per was re­moved in the lounge to re­veal dark-stained board-and-bat­ten pan­elling.

The bach’s eclec­tic style is the prod­uct of Gael’s eye for a vin­tage trea­sure.

All the fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories have been gifted, scav­enged or handed down by the pre­vi­ous own­ers.

Retro style is very much the or­der of the day at the Pilk­ing­ton bach, which is dec­o­rated with lots of colour­ful cro­chet, vin­tage fab­rics and nat­u­ral wood.

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