My Beach House Makeover Challenge



Top: living area with new white light fittings; Above: the new bathroom with pop-out bath extension – beats the sauna look! Below: view from the beach; bottom: most surfaces have had the white paint treatment, but this light fitting over the stair has to go!

This is possibly my biggest design challenge yet: get a difficult 80s holiday rental beach house ready to sell in a depressed property market.

We bought this “stuck-in-the-80s” beach house about 9 years ago. As the estate agent said to us at the time, “this is not really your kind of house”. She wasn’t wrong. We usually go for the cute old beach cottages.

However… this house was in a fabulous position right on the sand dunes with views up and down the coastline and out to the river behind. Its on a big block next to a north facing reserve and is relatively private compared to many in the area.

The other point it had going for it was the double height ceilings in the living area. (You see from the outside it looks a bit like a Swiss chalet!) Despite its chalet-ness, it had a great beach vibe. “Vibe” or atmosphere – whatever you call it – is very important to us when we make property investments.

But boy, was it dated. The bathroom was paneled in diagonal knotty pine boards like a sauna, with a decorative wheat sheath tile over the bath. The benchtops throughout were peachy pink and the kitchen cupboards were mushroom pink.

Being a beachfront, it was a significant financial outlay which meant we had to holiday rent it as much as we could. Most years we tackled one aspect to renovate – one year it was the kitchen, another year the bathroom, a beach shower extension or the deck.

Fortunately the house is quite solidly built of double brick on the ground floor and has shingles on the upper floor – thinking (or wishing) Hamptons here. More recently we rendered the brickwork to get rid of the blonde 80s textured brick and that was a huge improvement.

Over the years we have painted out much of the knotty pine paneling and interior brickwork as well as much of the endless metres of woodwork. Short of letting off a white paint bomb inside the house, I am still wondering how we can get it all painted in time. One plan was to paint the floorboards white.

To cut to the chase, the main renovation tasks are done but I am working on jazzing up the furnishings and fixtures. Much of the interior needs a boost as it has been a hard working rental and I do have a pretty small budget…

Last week I put in new light fittings in the living area which made a big difference. I’m off to the shops to look at some new dining chairs and more light fittings to replace the dated ones still there.
Any suggestions are welcome. Should I paint the floorboards? Should I replace the wooden venetian blinds with white ones or shutters?