A Cape Cod-inspired beach house on the Sunshine Coast

A 1970s beach shack on the Sunshine Coast has been lovingly revamped into an idyllic coastal getaway for a family of four.

Come the weekend, as soon as Kim, Ian and their twins Max and Tate arrive at their beach house on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, their bags are promptly dumped at the door, their shoes are kicked off and they head to the beach, which is conveniently just across the road.

“Depending on the tide, we either explore the rock pools for small fish and crabs, jump the waves or build dams in the small freshwater creek that flows into the ocean,”says Kim.

The new extension features matt finished concrete floors throughout, which make cleaning up sandy footprints a breeze. The ‘formal’ entry is defined by an accent door painted in Resene Black.

“Saturday night is always takeaway fish and chips, then we’ll ease into Sunday with a beach walk and pancakes. It’s our weekend escape from the everyday.”

A favourite place to congregate is the kitchen, where Ian and Max enjoy a snack. “It links the front living areas and the back bedrooms and bathrooms,” says Kim. Ikea cabinetry is customised with Smartstone benchtops in Vanilla, while a piece of silky oak timber, milled from a tree on their property, forms a floating shelf adorned with textural pieces and artworks by the home’s original owner. A Moroccan pendant found on Etsy hangs above.

Having lived in the United States for more than a decade before returning to Brisbane, the couple discovered this magical part of the world several years ago. Then, in 2018, when Kim, who had studied architecture, was looking to sink her teeth into a renovation project, a little beach shack came up for sale.

The vast kitchen dining table came from a Sydney restaurant.

“The place was quite humble from the street,”she recalls.”It was painted sage green and mustard and there was a collection of thongs nailed to the timber posts under the deck, but inside it was amazing.

Get the look of the upper living area, and elsewhere in the home, with Easycraft EasyVJ wall panels from Bunnings.

It was filled with character and I loved the incredible mezzanine sleeping area.”A deal was struck, and within two days Kim sketched the designs for a renovation that embraced the home’s bones yet incorporated a modern extension.

Sliding doors help draw in the sounds and smell of the nearby ocean. Kim’s persistence trawling Gumtree paid off with the cane lounge setting, which she had upholstered in heavy-duty stain-resistant outdoor fabric to withstand the rigours of two young boys and two mini schnauzers.

Her inspiration came from stays with friends in homes along the US east coast.”We had lived in Boston and I loved the New England aesthetic – styles such as Cape Cod cottages and saltbox houses with their pitched roofs and timber panelling,” says Kim.

In the living area, Kim and Ian brought the reproduction American antique drawers from the US. She found the lamp on Gumtree, and the artwork is by the home’s prior owner.

“Internally it was important the design could accommodate larger get-togethers with friends and family, and intimate areas to retreat to with a book.”

One of Kim’s dramatic artworks adorns a reading corner outside the bedrooms. The table and chair are Gumtree finds.

Kim donned the hats of building designer, project manager and interior designer during the five-month transformation. Upstairs, the 1970s mission brown rafters and dark timber veneer walls were revitalised with white paint and a swathe of fresh finishes, and stairs were added.

On the first-floor landing, the light and wicker chest are both from Gumtree.

The ground level was gutted and extended to encompass three additional bedrooms, bathrooms and a striking galley kitchen.

VJ walls are matched with rustic mirrors Kim and Ian brought with them from the US to give a subtle textural backdrop. On the bed, a linen quilt cover layered with a crochet throw from Harper St is relaxed yet chic, and plants and foliage from the garden add a lush touch atop bedside tables bought from a jazz club in Brisbane.

Cane furniture and vintage pieces collected over the years were taken from their family home in Brisbane, while nautical touches such as timber oars are a nod to the beachside location.

Sure, there are plenty of beds to choose from in this holiday home, but Max and Tate love bunking together. Appliqué quilts that Kim had custom made in the US when she was expecting the twins present a splash of colour. “I found an image of an old quilt that had planes on one side, and I decided to have a map of Paris on the back of the quilts, because that is where Ian proposed,” she says. “I stuck with concrete in the bedrooms because, unlike carpet, it doesn’t trap sand and feels great underfoot, particularly in summer,” adds Kim.

“I’m really drawn to texture and eclectic pieces, so I spent an awful lot of time onGumtree,”says Kim. Her own artwork adorns the walls, while curio-laden shelves feature watercolours of the local area that were painted by the previous owner and gifted to Kim and her family.

Countless Pinterest images helped inspire the sleek ensuite in soothing grey and white. “I wanted a seamless look and feel, which the concrete floor achieves by flowing through to the shower area,” says Kim, who used ‘Bora Ice White’ polished 600mm x 600mm tiles from Cheap Tiles Online to create the illusion of concrete continuing up the walls.

The result? Far from a bare-bones holiday house, this is a richly layered haven filled with mementos and the essence of escapism.

The vanity features the same Smartstone used in the kitchen and is paired with Mondella tapware from Bunnings. The organic curves of a round custom mirror are echoed in a Caroma ‘Aura’ freestanding bath from Reece and, with a stool from Gumtree, bring a sense of softness.

“Nothing here is overly precious. To me a home should have character and beauty, yet it should also feel relaxed and comfortable.” ~ Kim

The kitchenette in the first-floor living area is a mini version of the fit-out downstairs, with white walls a pristine setting for eclectic pieces and original Thonet chairs bought second-hand. Instead of a stair rail up to the sleeping loft, Kim used rope from Rope Galore, for a nautical feel. The floors in the ‘old’ house are limewashed cypress pine.

“I wanted a place that felt like you’d escaped the everyday… something that was as much about fund and delight as about beauty and comfort.” ~ Kim

Grey Ikea throws accent the bedroom loft.

“I still pinch myself when I walk around. I get to live in what was in my head, and that’s fantastic.” ~ Kim

Teak outdoor furniture has silvered over time on the deck.

Weekends are about escaping the city and heading to the Sunshine Coast for homeowners Ian and Kim. When the couple bought the 1970s cottage two years ago, Kim’s vision was for a light-filled retreat that combined the original architecture with the luxury of extra space and creature comforts. To unify new and old, the lower level was rebuilt and clad in James Hardie Stria cladding to match the original upper exterior, and everything was painted white – the walls in Resene Double Alabaster and the roof in Dulux Surfmist.

On a fine day, the best seat in the house is often on the front deck overlooking the ocean. Kim removed exterior stairs to expand the space. “It’s so relaxing to sit out here,” she says. “It’s wonderful to watch a storm roll in, or the passing container ships on the horizon.”

Related stories