Friday, June 4, 2010

Seafarers Cottages: All In The Details

Now that the Seafarers Cottages renovation is almost at the finish line, I thought I'd share a little about the story behind the project, some before and after pics as well as some of the tricks of the trade.
History of the cottages:
These three cottages, built in the 1930s are the original "beach shacks" in what was a fishing camp that became a village on a remote peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, about 2.5 hours drive from Sydney. Very little had been done on their upkeep over the past 20-30 years and they were in a pretty shabby state.

Why did we buy the cottages?
Though they were identified as heritage items, they like many other gems in this part of the world, remain unprotected. We are quite passionate about preserving some of the beach shack heritage here and love the challenge of turning them into stylish beach getaways for people wanting a break from their busy city lives.

The village of Currarong is just about our favourite place. It remains a rare time capsule of beach village chic and is in a stunning, unspoilt area surrounded by nothing but rugged coastline, deserted beaches and national parks. So we went out on a limb to buy them so they wouldn't be demolished to make way for a quite probably ugly, unsympathetic juggernaut.

What did we do to update the cottages?
Almost nothing was done to the actual footprint of the cottages. Most of the work involved replacing bad improvements and upgrading the kitchens and bathrooms. There were cheap aluminium windows installed in the seventies which we replaced with reclaimed timber windows as close as possible to what would have been there originally.

One of the biggest changes was putting in a new picket fence to replace the old "hurricane" fence which was bent and twisted in parts. We put back lots of the architectural detail like architraves around the windows, fibro cover strips and picture rails.
We kept the old fireplace hearths. One now houses a TV, the other two now have kitchen cupboards in them. We turned the old shed that housed the generator into the laundry.

Reinstating and reinventing the period features gave the cottages back their soul and charm. It also makes a great backdrop in which to decorate!

Bye the way - please leave a comment as I love to hear what you bloggers out there think!


  1. How fantastic! It's always nice to hear a story of someone wanting to preserve something instead of developers who demolish and replace with cookie-cutter condos. : )

  2. Fantastic work Catherine. Not only will they be an absolute delight to spend time in, they will provide inspiration for others to do the same. F

  3. Great story. I'm so glad you saved those shacks - there would have been nothing worse than a 'modern development' in that spot. Well done!

  4. Oh marvellous, I bow to you. My husband's grandparent's live at Currarong (original resident!) and we spend nearly every Christmas there plus lots of holidays in between. Bosom Beach, the Rockpool, the tennis clubhouse art shows, the tyre swing off the tree near the car park ... where my children and their cousins have frolicked. (But should we really be telling everyone about it! Shhhh ;-)

    Fab blog. All so familiar to me.

    Deb xx

  5. I always associate the beach with a fibro shack - their simplicity and lack of fussines are perfect for a relaxing beach holiday. You've done a wonderful job restoring and breathing new life into them. Our coastal areas would retain their unique charm if people went for less rather than more.

  6. Oh I wish there were more people like you around. I live in a beachside community where so many miner's cottages are knocked down to create massive project homes. I hate to think that whole sections of history will be razed. You've shown that every era of architecture has something to celebrate - they look gorgeous!

  7. They look fabulous. What a great project - really very admirable! Cheers, Sarah :)

  8. Congratulations on such a wonderful and worthwhile achievement - so glad that someone cares enough about our beach heritage to protect and nurture it in such a way. The beach cottages look fabulous!

  9. Catherine, this place sounds idyllic. Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and you made a fantastic decision buying these cottages and saving them from someone else building something monstrous and ugly.

    Love what you did with the interiors!

  10. Ahhh Currarong. Such a fabulous place. What I loved about our 2 week visit there was the fibro homes. I think I know where yours are, opposite the little shops? And I loved the seafood platter at the fish cafe......
    Great website. Thank you.

  11. I have a paint question. What kind of paint should be used on a half fibro half weatherboard house? Low-sheen, matt, a combo of the two???? Also what is the best interior white for fibro houses?

    I've stayed up WAY too late looking at this beautiful site..

  12. These look like a lot of care was taken within the restoration and maintenance, great to see instead of being replaced by a modern building.