Postcards from Beach Cottage Treasure Hunting

Fri 25th, Feb, 2011

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G’day lovely beach cottage ladies, today some vintage beach cottage decor for coastal style!

Righto let’s get to it…one girl, two roadside scores.

One morning a while ago I was driving the school run, not thinking of beach decor at all,  full of the happiness and the joys of the day, ‘cos I am such a bright and cheery mummy in the mornings ;-)  ahem perhaps a few of the Beach CottageCrew may have just a teeny problemo with that lol…

Queuing up at the lights I noticed that the street opposite had stuff outside…cha-ching!

….now of course reigning myself in and not wishing to cause any embarrassment to any of my offspring, who are, to be quite frank, sick and tired of me going on and on about vintage beach cottage decor stuff and squealing at the latest thing I have found, I kept myself most in check.

Then I saw the wooden box.  Did it or did it not have coastal style / beach decor about all over it’s beautiful little self?

Now this street is lined by units (that is Australian for flats or apartments) which means that the road has lots of parked cars on it…so not easy to pull in, especially when a. most people are rushing on their way to work  or b. some hideous mother behind you is late

And because of Late Mother behind, whose nose was very nearly in our boot, I definitely couldn’t stop, there would have been school run carnage…so slowing right down to a crawl, I yelled out to the other inhabitants in the car about the box…asked one of the BC Crew to hop out of the car, grab the box and meet me further down the road.


Not a single one of those babies, that I’ve worked my fingers to the bone for ;-) would get out of the car and get it for fuel my vintage beach cottage decor fix.  There were all sorts of different pleas to my more sensible side as to why they were sitting firmly in their seats….along the lines of we didn’t need any more stuff and it wasn’t cool to run around the streets looking for old wooden things and stealing them from out the front of people’s apartments.

Big humpy sigh.

Late Mother is now beeping her horn.

And I am cruising very slowly past.

All the way to the school I am justifying that it will still be there on the way home…errrm lady it’s an old box and no-one else is thinking vintage beach decor for it….get to first school, throw child out, race to next drop off and do the same with little one, flinging school bag after him (thank you lord for Drop Off Zones outside schools in Australia).

Driving back I am rationalizing…no-one else on the beaches has the slightest interest in that old, broken wooden box…it will still be there when you go back…to oh noooooo what if another old-vintage-loving-crackpot-white-paint-yielding woman sees the same potential in it as me?



I race back, turn the corner up the street and can’t see it and see Old Short Guy (no it wasn’t my husband) ferreting, in gloves & overalls no less, in the piles of stuff lining the road….OMG he’s gonna get it first!…he must love old beat up hand-made wooden boxes too!  He must want to make this into some kinda vintage beach decor!

Then I saw it, I think he’d actually moved it to ferret.

So I pull up, jump out, slam the car door and run across the road, whereupon I leap onto the old wooden box.  The old ferreting guy doesn’t even look up from his business rooting through someone’s old papers…and you think I’m the weird one.

I pick up the box, and go to cross the road, when a voice calls out.

“Excuse me love, what do you think you are doing with that?”

Oh ****!


Then I saw a twinkle in his eye, registered his English accent, clocked his sense of humour and realised he was pulling my leg and left.

Never have I stashed a find, hopped in my car and fled the scene quite as quickly as this one.

Then there’s the oars.


A much less exciting story…

After a long and I mean long day at a beach carnival, we drove home, absolutely exhausted…all I wanted to do was put the roast in, have a drink and get in the bath, I think I was almost delirious from the sun on the way home, imagining the roast smells wafting around while I wallowed.

Can I just say I was not thinking about coastal style or beach decor at all.

All of a sudden Mr BC pulled over.  I thought it was to show me a house he liked the look of.  I didn’t even turn my head, I just grumped something incoherently like “I can’t possibly even have any energy to look at anything”

He didn’t move the car…I was irritated…he just nodded to the left.

I mustered all my energy and turned and these two beauties were leaning on a Real Estate Agents ‘Sold’ sign.



Very nice.

Beach Decor.


Great condition.

But with a vintage patina.

A lovely deepened old wood.

A shabby kinda varnish.

Faded sections where the oars hit the boat.

We ummed and ahhed because ladies there are only so many oars a girl can have in her life, right?

But stuff that Mr BC hopped out and threw them in the back anyway.

The kids slid down and hid.


And that my vintage beach cottage decor loving friends is where I will leave you.

I had vague ideas about a shoe box for the battered old box but after close examination it might become a veggie garden container (because btw my salad growing has come on in leaps and bounds) and the oars?  Well they were gonna be zapped with white but I dunno they were speaking to me when I took the before photos…I think they might just like a clean.

Perhaps I’ll put them in the bath with a roast :-)

I’ll see you all next time.

Be good.

And don’t be scared if you see something old on the side of the road this weekend, just put your head down and think of England.

p.s. any ideas on uses would go down well…


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61 Responses to “Postcards from Beach Cottage Treasure Hunting”

  1. I cannot TELL you how many times I have been seen running for items on the side of the road. Your story made me laugh out loud because I can absolutely relate. It’s the main reason I cannot seem to part with my minivan, even though I only have one child living at home these days! Oh and I have a thing for oars too – there is currently one hanging on the wall in my guest bathroom. Great finds!

  2. Deanne says:

    We have council cleanup here at the moment, not a lot of good stuff about but did manage a couple of finds.
    Yesterday as I was rummaging a police car pulled up behind me- OH NO am I in trouble!!! But as I hopped back in the car and pulled away he pulled into the house I was at- they must have been in trouble!!

  3. antiquechase says:

    Shoe basket…. I like the kids to take off their shoes when then come in… I have them throw all their shoes in the basket and it makes my entry look tidy… It’s THE PERFECT shoe basket!!

    • Kristi Essman says:

      I was thinking the same thing! It does look like a great shoe box, although whatever went on the bottom probably wouldn’t be seen for a while and when it did finally surface it wouldn’t probably be in very good shape. :( Also, in my house I would probably find one of my grandkids hiding in it when I came home more often than not! haha! But I love it, it’s a great find! Oh, and good on Mr. BC for the oars you have trained him well. I’m very impressed!

  4. I love these stories and can picture it so perfectly. The things we will do for good “junk”. I wish people would actually just put piles along the road here….I actually have to pay for these kinds of things. But I do have to say, I’ve almost caused a few accisents in my day slamming on my brakes so fast looking for a place to pull over if something catches my eye. My kids hate when I do that:)

    Enjoy your new finds.


  5. Ros Wyatt says:

    that was so funny! I can safely say that not one of my children would have got out of the car either – they would have been cringing with embarrassment and hiding their heads while groaning at my similar affliction. It is a fabulous find – would make a great shoe box or a planter with lots of lovely geraniums.

  6. Sue says:

    Your story cracked me up! And I was so surprised/impressed that your husband actually pointed it out! Love the box, but my thought was on the oars. I think using them for shelves somewhere in your home/cottage, would be really cool! Don’t remember though, have you already done that with oars somewhere, and perhaps don’t want to duplicate?

  7. kirsty says:

    Sarah, you are definitely a girl after my own heart! I love the box – keep it inside! Love to you xx

  8. Maureen says:

    Ok, we must be on the same golf length or something, I just 20 minutes ago walked the dog, sprinted back to the car, because in the back of it I had, not really hidden (but casually trown in so he couldn’t see it…) a big old wooden box, with stamped letters and removable inside so you can also use it for holding bottles. It is now safe outside where he will not notice it for a while (cold and wet here) although I didn’t find it on the street, that is almost impossible seeing this is Clean Switzerland… think NOTHING lays on the street but grass… I found it at the thrift store.
    Back in Amsterdam I was just like you (also with hiding child in the back seat), so I really laughed when reading your morning adventure!
    For possible use, mmmh, the box perhaps as a hall table? and the oars, I really like what you did with the other one, can you do that also somewhere outside? Or I can give you my address if you want to get rid of them….just saying…. Enjoy your loot!
    Maureen x

  9. Christina says:

    ha ha!!! My children speed up when they see a skip – they know I’ll want to stop and look but they did get a great pair or oars left at the storage units which they hung on the wall … keep up the good work!

  10. Maureen says:

    Oh, something else, I found a photo of Paying it Forward with kindness, just posted it. Perhaps you like it too!

  11. catheine says:

    my children call me a ‘picker’ but i have one who will jump out and grab the goods for me. most recently, he trounce own the block to retrieve 2 wonderful wood frame windows. cannot belive someone put these beauties out with the trash. its too funny. instead of flowers they bring me treasures from the trash.

  12. Lois says:

    Oh, children, teens, and most hubbys (hubbies?) are so easily embarrased, but if I see something I stop and pick anyway. Old wooden boxes? Love ‘em. So full of possibilities. I can’t wait to see what you do with this one.

  13. Christine B says:

    beautiful box! I like how the gray gets stronger toward the bottom. You could always line it with canvas and use is as a hamper in the laundry or something!

  14. Tiff says:

    lol! You are too funny!
    Love the oars and think it very sweet that Mr BC made sure to point them out to you. Don’t know what to do with them though – I rely on you for my “oarspiration”!

  15. Tammi says:

    Nothing better than old wooden boxes…I scored a lovely one a while back with faded wording on it that I have all my patterns in…just love it!!
    I never hide from roadside finds…have so many pieces now that attest to that, but the other week while out driving hubby noticed before I did stuff on the side of the road and while speeding up to drive past promptly covered my eyes…he knows me too well :)
    Love the oars…good score there Mr BC

  16. marylou says:

    Fabulous scores!!! I agree, shoe box for the entire bc crew and a stenciled number might be fun;-)

    I am thinking the oars would be lovely cleaned and left as is, contrast, yes?

    You made me LOL in this post, several times, thank u for that ((*_*))


  17. Elke T says:

    H-ha-ha-ha!! That’s SO me! I do the same – i usually circle the block, while planning my tactical move to get out of the car, and back in again as quickly as possible with item in hand, before being spotted by anyone i know! LOL!
    I recently picked up this gorgeous old wheelbarrow, painted it white, and planted bright and cheerful flowers in it – it looks too gorgeous in the garden, and makes me very happy every time i look at it!
    So i say – go for it! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Love the box, by the way!

  18. Could could stash a body in there! I won’t tell…..promise.
    nah, maybe vegies would be better and some of your clay tages with the vegies’ names on them??

  19. Liz says:

    That is hilarious. I worry and fret when I see things I like as well. I almost give myself a heart attack. Now as for the oars. Hmmm, I will be delighted to see what you do with them.

  20. Sorry, I can’t spell today

  21. Tricia Rose says:

    NO! There are NOT “only so many oars a girl can have in her life”!

  22. Kimberly says:

    “… get to first school, throw child out, race to next drop off and do the same with little one, flinging school bag after him (thank you lord for Drop Off Zones outside schools in Australia).”

    OMG, that made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! I can just picture you driving by the goods r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y, and then turning around and FLYING back to them after tossing the kids out of the car! The things we do for a good find!

    One time when taking out the trash, I found a wooden coffee table with scrolly legs and a solid marble top IN THE DUMPSTER behind my apartment. I RAN into the house, yelled to my roommate “Shannon, get down here NOW!” and we ran out to the dumpster to retrieve the table. I told her “hold my legs, I’m going in” and she’s laughing like a crazy person holding my legs as I’m dangling over the edge of this stinky gross dumpster trying to dig this table out! It was heavy, and we ended up having to lower me into the dumpster so I could stand for leverage, and hoist the thing out.

    Good times, I tell ya’, good times! I haven’t dumpster dived in a long time, but just last week I swiped a French-esque scrolly-legged chair off the side of the road, and ran down the alley behind my apartment squealing with delight. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy …

    Loved your story and can totally relate. I think the idea of using the box as a container garden is a great one!



  23. Love the stories! When I lived in New York there was a treasure trove of good things to snatch on the side of the road on garbage day. You could throw anything away and the trash men would take it. Unfortunately, the trash collectors here in North Carolina will not take ANYTHING that does not fit in the can. No dressers, not tables etc! NO GOOD STUFF! Occasionally i will find some old windows and once came a cross an old porch screen door but pickins are slim. Gotta go to the dump to find anything and I rarely get there.
    Happy Hunting!

  24. kristi says:

    that is so funny….i know exactly what you mean…with the kids….hide before someone spots us..ha..we pulled over on the interstate
    in atl a few years ago…ran across 5 lanes of traffic to retrieve a great old quilt…and there’s lots more stories like that…the thrill of the hunt..i say!!!

  25. angie says:

    Ohhhhhh Im so jealous I have been looking for oars forever. Cant find a one….cant buy one for less than 75.00 ! Too steep for me. I think Id scrub them within an inch of their lives….bleach that wood out to a nice whitesh gray patina and use them end to end as curtain rods over that beautiful new patio door that you have. Of course with white gauze like linen panels…

    The box…..can you flip it over and put a putty stripe runner on it….use it as a table by the door to catch keys, purses and the like?

  26. tami says:

    Love the crate, and love the oars, the oars are tall and skinny! hmm, just my ambition hehe, well spotted Mr. BC ;)

  27. Katherine says:

    Amusing story!!

    It is amazing what you find – I think I must live in the wrong part of Australia LOL!! Angie’s ideas are great! I love both items old, wooden patina as is – I would just give them a good scrubbing……for now! The oars are a nice, elongated shape – would they work in your bathroom in any way? They do look good just propped up against the wall. Would the crate somewhow fit into your kitchen for some kind of shelving?? Even a recycling depot? Great finds.

    Anyway, the sky’s the limit! I know you will come up with something! Have fun : )

  28. Melissa says:

    Can I just say that I just love, love, love your blog – it really brightens my day. Not only do you dazzle me with beautiful photos & ideas for my own beach house renivation, but I just love reading about your life! Your new shoe blog had me chuckling to myself for the rest of the night….so thankyou for the time and thought you put into your blog and of course your house – it is truly appreciated!

  29. Patricia says:

    Hi Sarah, I would keep the box as is, of course fix that bottom part that has come off. A scrub, leave it raw maybe a clear beeswax
    then leave it where it is.

    The oars? One set in the home is enough, put them outside on the wall of the decking and leave them stained, that will give a nice textured contrast with the white outside on the deck. Why not inside? I am a firm believer, one can have too much of a good thing, as then it doesn’t look as stylish, you would lose that at two pairs.

  30. vege box- perfect!

    melissa x

  31. Deborah says:

    You do make me laugh..x Great looking box, I would remove/cut the bottom layer, including base (add a different base) and use these to make a lid.. add some industrial looking wheels and you have a shoe box without actually seeing the shoes.

  32. Joanna Sturk says:

    Love your story .Dont know if you have any stairs ? my inlaws have used them as stair rails.
    have a great weekend JO

  33. Fleur says:

    How do you ever find this stuff! have oar envy, if you ever find you have too many oars, you know to send some my way xx F

  34. Barefoot Liz says:

    Love the oars! I would leave them as is (unpainted.) You could get anchored ceiling hooks and hang them horizontally from the ceiling (depending on your ceiling height, of course.) You could use them as curtain rods (depending on their length.) You could hang them over a doorway. Hang them on a wall in a hallway/foyer. Ah, the possibilities are endless!

  35. Julie Johnson says:

    Your story had me laughing because I had a similar thing happen to me with my daughter. We were on the way to town when I saw this vintagy(is that a word?) looking drawer that had fallen out of a dresser when someone was moving, and I said ooh, look a drawer. whereupon my daughter slid down in the seat almost to the floorboard so as not to be seen with a crazy lady doing a uturn in the middle of the road to go back and rescue that poor lonely drawer. She was horrified, but I couldn’t just leave it there now could I? You made my day. Thanks for the stories about your hunting exploits and home life. I read it every day.

  36. Vicki K says:

    Oh what a beautiful box placed in a beautiful spot!!! i love the story. Maybe you need to remind those babies just what you went through to deliver them into their fun carefree existence! JK

  37. Sharilyn says:

    Love the idea of a garden box! Or you could fit it out into a wine rack! Like with little cross braces to hold the bottles…

  38. I love reading your posts! I am right there with you girl. My son now fully grown used to hunker down when I found a roadside treasure!

  39. Diane says:

    I ♥ all of your “beachy” items. Great find Ÿ

  40. OMG, you had me rolling with laughter on that story! My son is only 4 so he doesn’t know to be embarrassed by his mommy yet ;-) I’m sure those days are ahead! Just did a post on my blog about stopping for things on the side of the road…

  41. Deneen says:

    Ok I want this box! It is great! Great story too!


  42. You crack me up, you are crazy and I love it! Fantastic treasures you nabbed there. The box is fabulous! There were too many comments for me to read, so I don’t know if anyone suggested an upholstered top? Not sure if it is sturdy enough for a bench, but it would be a great stow-away box.

  43. Patricia says:

    Hi Sarah, comment # 2

    My last comment I was carried away saying what I would do with he box/oars etc.

    I love that large timber box it is sooo lovely!! I also meant to add that I do like large pieces of furniture. To me they seem to have a purpose. I think the box is one of those
    It is rustic, and has it imperfections, and it is had its purpose somewhere in its time.
    I think it looks perfect where it is, amongst the perfect white walls and timber floor which show off its imperfections floor. But wherever you put it, it should dominate, just like your hug big timber trunk you have in the living room. It is time for its new purpose.

    Bye for Now

    Re the oars again, nah, I don’t think on the decking wall, too structured. I think just leaning against the wall outside.

  44. Patricia says:


    Oh my have just re-read my last comment, it is all over the place, with spellings and unfinished words, and words put in odd places.
    Sorry for that!!.
    Anyway, I hope you will get what I am trying to explain. :)

  45. the freckled minx says:

    Ah a scavenging woman after my own heart – you’re ok as long as you’re not the one wearing the gloves and overalls!!

  46. Jackie says:

    Oh Sarah!! Been there done that….Love the box and the oars!!! You are such a hoot!

  47. Margaret says:

    Your blog is my first stop each evening, always trying to guess where it is you’re describing each day. I live at the other end of the northern beaches and I’ve already started warning my boys that our clean up is only a few weeks away. They know exactly what that means – the trip to and from school is about 10 minutes longer than usual as I takes detours around all the streets looking for treasure. Lucky I have a station wagon, its amazing the things I’ve managed to shove in the back of the car.

    I recall one evening out with my hubby, all dressed up, when we came across a gigantic pile left outside a block of units. On top of this pile was a surfboard. We got lots of strange looks that night as we walked home, my hubby in his suit with a surfboard under his arm. When he now complains about me driving around the streets on the lookout during council cleanups, I just have to remind him about the surfboard!

  48. Oh my gosh you are a crack up!

    I wish we had stuff at the side of the road here! But we don’t. I have to work pretty hard for my vintagey finds, but it is still well worth it. But I also have a husband that supports me in my junking, and he actually loves it too. We can hardly wait til the weather warms and we have garage sales again. YAY!!!

  49. maggie says:

    As I read your post and look at your great pics of your latest find….I realize my feet are resting on the exact same rug as in your pic…..snap!!!!! Great box, made me think of a place for blankets right away ……..and the oars? leave em’ as is…great contrast to the rest of your decor.

  50. Hi Sarah, Nice box – you find some nifty things by the road over there in Australia… and I love it right where you put it. Would make a great shoe bin. Also a great planter. Hmmm… And I think you’re right about those oars. They want to be au naturale ;-}

  51. I found you at My Romantic Home, I have a party on Wednesday and would love it you would participate. http://typeadecorating.blogspot.com/ Thanks Tammy

  52. Elisabeth says:

    What great finds! I have found some of my favorite items by the side of the road also, much to the chagrin of my whole family. Never found any oars though, that would be great! I agree the natural wood on those is beautiful so I’d leave them. I love how the box turned out though. Do you think the pencil will stay or wear off? I guess we’ll see.
    My only problem with all my free finds is that I’m kind of running out of space for them all!

  53. Marsha says:

    Oh! I love your story. I’ve been out with a friend and we made her son get out and get something off the curb for us! I think it had something to do with him being a 12 year-old boy. He didn’t mind at all…now my daughter…another story. NOPE. And those oars!!!! My same friend has just bought a lake home and she is decorating it with vintage touches. I’ve been wanting her to get some oars–just like yours! I saw a pair in the flea market the other day…but I like yours and the story that goes with them.