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

Inside Out (Australia) - - Contents - WORDS & STYLING ALEXAN­DRA GOR­DON PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MAREE HOMER

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.

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