Saved from the tide, this renovated boathouse is a backyard beauty

An idyllic waterfront position makes this boathouse the perfect setting for outdoor entertaining.
The blue cladded boatshed and two deck chairs on a lawn facing the bay.Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson

Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney Harbour, a picturesque boathouse is cocooned by landscaped gardens and shaded lawns on the tranquil waters of a secluded bay. Complete with alfresco entertaining spaces and a deep-water jetty, the boatshed sits at the foot of a cascading 1380-square metre site in Sydney’s North Shore.

A blue garden boatshed on the bay in Sydney's North Shore.
The existing timber decking has been left to silver off with age and Artisan Exterior ‘Arkkia Crazy’ paving from Eco Outdoor extends the entertaining area. Festoon-style Il Fanale ‘Drop Pendant Lights’ from Light Co illuminate evening soirees. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

Exposed to the elements, the once dilapidated structure was, until recently, in danger of being washed away with the tide after years of neglect. Now, it’s renovated and fully equipped to host any number of guests at a moment’s notice.

A cavoodle lying outside a blue boatshed.
Interior designer Jodie Carter’s aim for this waterfront project in Sydney was to create an idyllic boathouse for her clients to enjoy with friends. “Designing for a family that enjoys entertaining has been satisfying,” she shares. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

The boathouse

Part of a site-wide renovation, the boathouse and lower garden section came to the owner’s attention once work was well underway on the main home. “The entire project took around two years from first meeting to completion,” says interior designer Jodie Carter. “As we started to make progress in the main house, the owners were ready to make a start on the boathouse design.”

The blue cladded boatshed and two deck chairs on a lawn facing the bay.
Positioned under the shade of two majestic fig trees, the boathouse is painted in Dulux Colorbond Deep Ocean, with accents in Dulux Colorbond Surfmist. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

While the main home has an elevated coastal feel, the owners wanted the boathouse interiors to have a sense of fun, with a blue and white colour scheme matching the holiday-like purpose of the building. “Both the boathouse and outdoor dining/kitchen areas are an entertaining space for the family,” explains Jodie. “Whether it’s the kids hanging out with their friends or a party after a day on the water, they wanted somewhere comfortable to have a few drinks and cook a pizza while watching the sun go down.”

A cavoodle standing by a blue garden boatshed.
Bowser the Cavoodle and his family often “spend the whole day down at the boathouse,” says Jodie. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

To get the ball rolling, Jodie enlisted the help of head contractor and builder Hamish Roughley, who quickly realised the well-loved and much-used boatshed was further gone than anyone realised. “When I initially looked at the boatshed, it seemed in okay condition, but as we dug deeper, we discovered extensive issues,” says Hamish. “In reality, it was not far off from being blown over.” What started as a makeover became an attempt to save the structure from washing away.

A small metal wood fire by the outdoor alfresco dining area.
The retaining wall is painted in Dulux Colorbond Ironstone, harmonising with the greying deck and blue-grey palette of native plants and succulents. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

Prone to flooding at high tide, the boatshed’s walls and door frames were almost non-existent thanks to rot from water exposure, while the adjoining yard was suffering under the perennial shade of two stately figs. “It was all quite a challenge on the waterfront,” says Hamish. “Working with the tides and the logistics of barge work to get materials to and from the job certainly added another level of complexity.” Construction work included restoring the boatshed by lifting it to pour concrete support piers, rebuilding the crumbling sea wall and jetty, and repairing the existing entertaining areas.

An outdoor kitchen with a concrete bench, pizza oven and hanging festoon lights.
A concrete benchtop was cast onsite by the builders and houses a Schmick bar fridge from Winning Appliances, a Beefeater ‘Signature’ barbecue and a ZRW Refractory pizza oven. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

While the building team was hard at work on the boatshed, the landscapers were busy creating a modern, low-maintenance garden utilising the existing mature plantings and structural retaining walls. Landscape designer Amanda Elboz chose a plant palette including succulents and sculptural species to add shape and texture.

An outdoor alfresco area with a dining table and hanging festoon lights.
Granada chairs from Globe West surround the table. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

“The tonal colours of the plants are serene, with a pop of colour from the Strelitzia reginae when it flowers in late winter and spring,” she says. Crassula ovata ‘Bluebird’ and Mexican lily provide a blue-grey backdrop, while the feature plant, Nolina nelsonii, was chosen for its architectural lines and extreme drought tolerance. Korean Buxus, Pittosporum ‘Golf Ball’ and Pittosporum ‘Miss Muffet’ are clumped in groups to create low-maintenance volume.

“The space has been created to celebrate the figs.”

Amanda, landscape designer
An outdoor shower beneath a Moreton Bay Fig.
A ‘Lennox’ shower from Brooklyn Copper. (Photography: Maree Homer / Styling: Kristin Rawson)

Although it was a challenging project with difficult access and a steep site, Amanda says it was an opportunity not to be missed. “What I love most is how the garden is framed by the overhead Moreton Bay Figs. They bring a sense of scale and wonder,” she says. The result is a place of peace and tranquillity that is perfectly in sync with the surrounding natural environment.

Landscape design: Space Landscape Designs, spacedesigns.com.au.
Interior design: Jodie Carter Design, jodiecarterdesign.com.au.
Builder: HR Constructions, hrconstructions.com.au.


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