A beach shack

Posted on Tue, 22 Mar 2011 by KiM

Nelly (who works in finances and is an aspiring stylist), her boyfriend Samuel (handyman, bike mechanic and graphic designer) and their cats Lex and Sox live in what Nelly calls a beach “shack” and I have to say that it looks nothing to me like a shack! I’ll let Nelly tell you about their beautiful home in Watermans Bay (northern beaches of Perth, Western Australia)…

We were desperately looking for a cute beach house to rent at an affordable price. So when we stumbled upon a very neglected shack that was screaming potential, we jumped onto it!

When we first stepped in, the house was dark and gloomy and looked as if it was abandoned or – worse – as if it has been squatted by aspiring surfers, more attracted by the waves next door than by basic general home maintenance. Every wall of every room was painted a different color. In the bathroom, we had mint green, bright pink and lavender on the walls while the bathtub was that old fashioned baby blue enamel. In the living area, we had a mix of dusty pink, bright purple, olive green (all in glossy finish) and suede-textured mauve. The ceiling was painted a faded mustardy yellow. The window sills, door frames, ceiling cornices and skirting were a glossy maroon. And the list goes on.

Being our usual bright, optimistic souls, we decided to focus on the house’s potential: location was a big call, but so were the painted floorboards (a medium grey that has started to flake, which gives more rusticity), the brand new kitchen cabinets, the mismatch of salvaged windows used throughout the house (Art Deco, French, louvres, etc), the fireplace, the high ceilings, the cornices, and the very unusual layout. We had almost no money but I had vision and my boyfriend had building skills (and a good artistic flair too) so how could we go wrong?

A few (many!!!) pots of paint later and lots of elbow grease and the house turned into what we wanted: a relaxing retreat with lots of character and light. The feel is contemporary with a hint of vintage. It is summery and fresh and inviting at the same time. It has a couple of feature items and lots of ‘bits and pieces’ picked up during overseas trips or at the side of the road. It is our sanctuary and it keeps on evolving with us, our moods, our needs. There are still a million things that need to be fixed, changed, replaced, moved, installed. It might be perfect one day but it is more likely that it will never be. And this is most probably the precise reason why we love it. We hope that you will too.

Photos: Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography

Ekta says:

Nelly, your place is absolutely stunning! I love all the natural light! It's got happiness written all over! Love it !
Quick question – are the floors diff shade in the living room and the bedroom? What paint did you use for the floors (make /color) ?

Nelly says:

Radostina and Etka – Thanks a lot for your comments!

Etka, the floor colour is actually the same in all rooms. I looks different because of the light that doesn't hit the living room the same way as it does the bedroom.

The shade is actually close to Taubmans 'Inverness' e.g. a medium grey with a hint of blue in it. I unfortunately can't be more specific nor certain of what has been used as we didn't do anything to the flooring. It was old and flaking when we moved in and we kept it just that way. At first, I really wanted to sand it and find their natural timber, but we couldn't afford it. In the end, the painted, flaking ones grew on me and I am super happy with the look (and the easy maintenance)

All the best!

Ekta says:

Thanks for your reply Nelly! I am going gaga over the color of your floors!
We just bought our first place and it has Brazilian cherry wood floors. It's not my style at all and was looking to stain them really dark. I wish i could paint them but my husband will have a heart attack if i do. Do you have any suggestions?
I can send you a pic. Would love to have your expert advice!


Nelly says:

Hi Etka

Please send a photo (or several, if your want)! I'd be really happy to help you with your floor dilemma.

My email is nelly@twinkleandwhistle.com


Jaymie says:

I'd love to know where the bedroom curtains came from??

I think it's OK that people can voice their dislike of seeing the 'dead animal skin' – it's more obviously a dead animal than the leather couches, which some might describe as more honest perhaps. Anyhoo…. a sensitve topic.

peggy says:

Such a beautiful serene home. I too don't understand the dead animal on the floor, especially with such a beautiful live animal lounging on the bed. Your home exudes peace, is that really the image you want? Something dead? And right by the bed? It's gross. On the positive side, I love all the white and the beautiful lantern in the living room.

Nelly says:

Hi Jaymie and Peggy

Thank you very much for your messages.

As Jaymie put it, the 'dead animal' is a sensitive topic and I do understand and respect that some people don't like it. As I mentioned it earlier, it is as much a dead animal as my leather couch or as most people's leather shoes or handbags; yet these don't seem to be a big deal for anyone… It surely is less obvious, yet if we are speaking ethics here, it comes down to the exact same thing. I don't force anyone to like it and your comments are welcome. I simply expect the same understanding and respect towards my choices and tastes.

Jaymie, in regards to the curtains (beautiful 100% unbleached and heavy linen), I've purchased them in France. Saying this, if you are in Australia, I can source similar ones for you and get them delivered to your place at a probably lower cost that what you find here… Feel free to send me an email (by clicking on my name at the end of this message) if you're interested.

Thanks again to both of you for your comments.

peggy says:

Hi Nelly, thanks for responding to my comment. I must clarify a couple of things. One, I don't use leather. None of my furniture, shoes or purses are leather. I am still eating chicken – for which I feel like a hypocrit. In trying to become a vegetarian, I cannot seem to find an adequate protein substitute and when I don't eat enough protein I get horrible migraines. Sorry, I digress.

I must also disagree that the cat rug is in anyway similar to your sofa. You actually have a gutted animal lying on your floor, with its fingernails and tail, etc. It reminds me of my precious cat that got run over by a car when I was a child. There is no way to justify this image of death as anything that is beautiful. I think it doesn't fit in your otherwise extremely peaceful and ethereal home. I know my views anger many people, but they are consistent and I own them.

Nelly says:

Hi Peggy

Thanks for your email and the clarification. I totally respect your views and your commitment to what you believe in. While I do not promote animal's death (I have two cats myself that I saved from the shelter where they were about to be put down), I certainly am not as passionate as you are about not using leather or animal skin in my decor and clothing. I admire your dedication and consistency though.

All the best,


Jenny says:

Nelly, it's a lovely house.
You make a fair point about the couch and shoes. I didn't like the leather couch either. However that's a battle that will be long in the fighting, as people are so used to having animal products as part of their couches and lives generally, so I tend not to weigh in on those. As for shoes, I'm replacing my shoes with non-leather as they wear out (there are great shoes from Brazil, eg. by Bella Rio, that look terrific), and I don't want a dead animal to sit on when I watch TV.

@Cassie – mankind may have been using animal hides for centuries etc etc, but only fairly recently has factory farming and transportation for slaughter been the practice. If you use animal products and eat them, you should check out Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Eating Animals. If you still feel the same afterwards, well, I'm sorry.

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