HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
A light-filled cottage on Sydney’s Northern Beaches makes the perfect family escape for the Christmas break – and all summer long
A light-filled cottage on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is the perfect place for a Christmas break
Having worked on many historic homes since setting up her practice 13 years ago, restoring this 1920s cottage to its former glory was right up interior designer Siobhan Rothwell’s alley. Planning to transform the home into a holiday house to be enjoyed by herself, her husband William, their four children and extended family and friends, she had been drawn to it by its welcoming ambience. “The bones of it were charming,” recalls Siobhan. “Even the walk up the bushy path, which might seem painful to others, to me adds to the feeling of escape.”
However, there was work to be done to revitalise the timber and sandstone cottage, including demolishing a raft of 1970s additions. “We just returned it to its original state and tried to open it up to the outdoors,” explains Siobhan. This seemingly simple move allowed light, air flow and sight lines to be maximised. Updates were also necessary to bring the dilapidated house up to speed. “The rotting floorboards were replaced and a new kitchen and a bathroom were added,” she says. An artist’s studio has more recently been converted into a third bedroom.
For the interiors of the waterside getaway, about 40 kilometres north of the city, Siobhan aimed for a functional yet relaxed feel. “I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I was trying to make it easy to maintain for a family, and to create a light and bright holiday house,” she explains. An outdoor shower sets the casual tone for the house, while the furniture and accents, some of which were custom made and sourced in Bali, boost the easygoing mood. “The idea was minimal furniture but comfortable,” adds Siobhan.
Set among bird-filled treetops and with water views, the home’s location also played a part in the reworked design.
“We added a timber deck to the west side that overlooks Pittwater,” says Siobhan. Even on a wintry day, the view can be enjoyed from a daybed in the living room, a zone she chose to open up to create a spacious hub for the often bustling house. “It’s a very convenient layout for a holiday home with kids because you can watch them from everywhere,” she explains.
The designer chose a muted colour palette for the cottage. “It’s relaxing on the eye and it’s fresh,” says Siobhan, who was inspired by the colours of an oyster shell, a scheme that is reflected in the various soft paint shades and marble benchtops. A faded pink rug in the main bedroom completes the picture. “This is my favourite space because it gets beautiful light and it’s separate to the rest of the house,” says Siobhan. “It’s a little bit of a retreat.”
It was important that the spaces weren’t too precious. “It had to be family friendly and flexible in its ability to cater for different numbers and configurations of guests, and the changes in the seasons,” says Siobhan. Outdoor fabrics were selected for some of the upholstered interior pieces, the white-painted floorboards are easily cleaned – and while there are several seating and dining areas, the three-bedroom house feels right for either a couple or a large group.
The cottage, as such an easy place to unwind and enjoy family time, has become the chosen location for Christmas day. “We have beautiful Christmas mornings here, then we go and join the rest of the family for lunch,” says Siobhan. Homemade Santa sacks, carefully wrapped presents, surfaces adorned with decorations and a pair of faux fir trees bring a festive note to the main living space.“It works just as well to have driftwood around the fireplace and fairy lights and a few stars dripping down from the mantel,” says Siobhan.
Eventually the couple will add more bedrooms beneath the house and update the children’s bathroom, but for now the family is content to enjoy the pretty cottage, spending the majority of the summer months there. It’s a place to escape, just as it was designed to be.
I wasn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. I was trying to make it easy to maintain for a family, and to create a light and bright holiday house SIOBHAN ROTHWELL, HOMEOWNER
The house had to be family friendly and flexible in its ability to cater for different numbers and configurations of guests SIOBHAN ROTHWELL, HOMEOWNER
This is my favourite space because it gets beautiful light and it’s separate to the rest of the house. It’s a little bit of a retreat SIOBHAN ROTHWELL, HOMEOWNER
KITCHEN Timber furniture, including a dining table and stools sourced from Bali, add warmth to the pale surfaces in the kitchen, which has been painted in Porter’s Paints Popcorn. A Carrara marble splashback and benchtop add interest, with a rattan- covered bottle, ‘Ro’ vase from Spence & Lyda and a Lumu Interiors timber parat serving bowl delivering a textural note. A ‘ Vaughan’ console table from MCM House stands under the window.
MASTER BEDROOM (here and opposite) Porter’s Paints gentle Chintz Grey covers the panelled walls of the main bedroom, where a headboard from MCM House and Society linen from Ondene give the bed star status. Chunky timber bedsides bought in Bali have the bulk to match the tall table lamps, also found in Bali. On the floating timber shelves stand collectables including an Orient House terracotta horse, a petrified wood objet on stand from West Elm, and a vintage urn and relics used as bookends, all found at Lumu Interiors. In the ensuite, Bedouin Societe towels from Lumu Interiors are neatly stacked on the marble and timber wash stand.