Before/After Tour


The Beach Cottage is a continually evolving project and changes it seems sometimes almost everyday. In particular I enjoy dressing up the cottage, decorating and of course treasure hunting on a weekly basis to find interesting vintage finds…

Here I’ve finally put together some photos of the rooms before/during the first round of renovations (and stay tuned for round two, starting soon)




The kitchen was probably the worst room in the house, these before photos were when it was looking a whole lot better! The good things were the light and the unusual double aspect window to the corner (some might disagree I liked the quirkiness) and the wood floor. The down side was it being very small, though I wanted and love a small cottagey kitchen this was on the errrm tiny size. This is though just a kitchen right off this is a breakfast room which we are thinking of opening up and turning into one bigger room.


There was nothing salvageable here and more it needed shall we say a good disinfect!
We ripped out everything and re-boarded the right hand wall. The floor was sanded, varnished and sealed.


Walls were painted first off with regular old white but have since been re-done with Dulux Whisper White.


Left with a shell and very high quotes from a kitchen company we decided IKEA would be a best bet and went for their stand alone, kitchen-in-a-box cabinets. Turned out to be a great decision if not a little ahem irritating having to negotiate IKEA’s infamous stock system, knowledgable, not, staff and crazy instructions written for someone who lives on the moon.


We used open shelving to keep it from feeling too boxed in and added racks to hang stuff from…


This is a tiny kitchen…we used IKEA stand along movable butcher’s block for extra and versatile storage


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stand alone kitchen units : IKEA (budget option)

wall shelves : IKEA

knife rack : IKEA

old vintage ladder : thrifted find painted white, hung with rope

pitcher : Wheel and Barrow

vintage mixing bowl : Vinnies

butchers block : IKEA

silver buckets : IKEA

knife rack : IKEA

blinds : IKEA

bunting : made by me…string plus nautical fabric

The Hallway

 We gave the hallway / entrance a beachy coastal style look with white wallpaper cladding, up-cycled an old oar, added a chair and wood floors

you can find more about the hallway here 



additional hallway pics here

a thrifted vintage hallway find here 



The Deck

Here we have the delightful deck in this old beach cottage…sir! what a lovely green mouldy roof you have!  and that brown paint, why glorious! ;-)

So the deck was actually not too much of a big effort…

We replaced the roof with white, the whole house was rendered in a sandy chino grey, the floor was sanded back and painted with floor paint…





we are still living with the old aluminium windows, euuuhh in the newer part of the cottage, but these are about to be replaced…as is the render…the whole cottage is about to be clad in wood for a real coastal feel :-)

the door we had to live with for a few years, as the one I wanted was the price of a small car…my preference was French doors but opening out meant too much space was taken on the deck…

every single tradie that came here tried to persuade me to go with bi-fold doors for a real outdoor-in feeling

….but I didn’t like the way the bi-folds stack up in the corner looking messy….

I am so glad I went for middle-opening timber doors pained with white..

they have changed the whole feel of the deck


The Front Door


 The old front door of the cottage was a typical 60′s/70′s door complete with orange glass, we painted over it and lived with that for a while until the work on the front deck was started to replace the old front steps/rain porch.

You can read about the front door with a coastal beachy decor feel here 

The Study


made over an old IKEA desk with polka dot oilcloth

added a shelf rack made from an old skirting board


painted an old filing cabinet white…

and old side of the road window whitewashed…



The one and only photo of the main bedroom, taken by Mr Beach Cottage on his phone on that fateful day of the Open House of this old place, where quite comically a gaggle of house-hunters were frantically looking around this parody of a cottage.

This is the before shot and phew, this was one of the better rooms…and because along with questions about white paint I often get emails from girls sad about the state of their bedrooms…who tell me they have yucky carpet, revolting things on the walls and not much light, well this sweeties is a shot for all of you…


As you can see dark and grim, tight on space because of a huge built-in that attempted and failed to be a walk-in type thing just viewable on the right of this picture, an old air-conditioning unit that was so fitlhy it felt alive stuck halfway up the wall, horrible never been cleaned carpet, a wardrobe cutting the light to the left of the window and another built-in type thing just to the left of this picture kinda around and over the bed. Do I need to mention the fan with clothing on it and the mess strewn all around…

But look a bit closer, see those yellow walls, not much to do there other than clean and zap, the floor, underneath years of neglect, good as new wood, the ceilings fairly high and nicely edged and most importantly and now very much what I love all through the day, the beautiful Australian sun desperately trying to peek in.

this is the after as it looks now


So with this the Beach Cottage Crew worked their magic and no not as is often written in those ridiculous home decor books where they talk about how their look is ‘soo achievable’ and on a ‘budget’ in one breath and then a ‘team of tradies’ in the next, or what irritates me even more comments such as ‘my builders’, nope this budget room was true Do It Yourself…that means it was done by us.


It was in dire need of some help and with a hideous amount of dust and grime, this room needed a massive amount of love and thinking power to get it looking better.

So, first of all we ripped out the old walk-in wardrobe which took up most of the room from the right side of the window to just past where this bed is now, opening up the room, improving the light and allowing for much more possibilities….it turned from a small and tight room with a badly-designed space-eating wardrobe in the corner to a good-sized room with much more potential.



Next we pulled down the shelving unit thing that took over the wall on the other side and pulled down some coving type material that hid the top of the window.

Suddenly we had a shell that was filled with light and I actually began to think that maybe I could sleep in here…


Now adjacent to this bedroom was the original family bathroom to the old part of the cottage, accessed not from this bedroom but from the hallway and we wanted to change that into an en-suite bathroom for this bedroom…so we made a new opening for the bathroom (I am standing in front of that door taking the photo above), boarded up the old doorway and re-fitted the bathroom. This was something we couldn’t do ourselves and used up any non-existent budget with a local handyman who knocked out the door opening, made good and hung a door…

Nextwe cleaned, disinfected and prepped the walls and then painted everything in a few coats of simple standard white (though in these pics the walls have been re-painted with Dulux White on White).

Next sanded, filled, varnished and sealed the floors. So this was a blank canvas to work with.

The windows took quite a lot of work to get back to looking presentable, years of grime and non-opening meant that they were stuck shut and at one point we thought we’d have to replace them which I *really didn’t want to do…I worked on getting the grime off this window for days…while Mr BC was busy on other stuff around the place…I was in here alone with the radio on a hot sunny summer day chipping off dirt and layers of old paint bit by bit with a screwdriver and later once we finally got them open scrubbing them with a toothbrush loaded with bleach…

Once opened we learned that one of the sash ropes was broken and so we had to replace that too, which was a learning curve;-) .

Now I love these windows, nothing special to the casual onlooker, in fact most would probably think old and cronky but for me part of the dream of an old cottage was that sound of lifting up a sash window in the summer and letting the cool air breeze in…


The drapes are the same as everywhere else…natural linen on a double layer pole from IKEA topped with a layer of white heavy ring top and puddled on the floor for an easy casual look…on the window a white wooden blind to filter the light and give that laid-back beach house feeling…


The bed is a very budget one from the local place where when we had first moved to Australia, rented a house and had nothing to sleep on, I rushed in one morning after four beds/matresses and wanted them the same day so had little leeway on what I chose…funny really cos although I would love a real old iron bed and since then I’ve come across a few on my vintage treasure hunting escapades, I love this bed (I splurged on the mattress) and would have to think twice before getting rid…


All of the other bits and pieces have been gathered and for sure have not cost us much in terms of casheroos but hmm a bit in effort…. this is though more than achievable…we did it while Mr Beach Cottage was working 14 hour days in the city, in a new country, with 3 kids, no help and no support…


From the flowers, to the bed, to the mirror to the linens everything you see is either from a discount store or more likely from my treasure hunting searches ’round these beachside suburbs…

This is a real bedroom on a budget by a real girl who dreamt of sleeping on an old white bed, with a coastal breeze, old vintage things all around and living in an old cottage near to the sea…


old srolly mirror: junk shop England bed : discount bed shop vintage bedspread : Bates Ebay vintage crochet : vinnies linen: IKEA pillow : Coastal Cushions sheet & shams: shabby chic curtains: IKEA chest of drawers: Salvos mirror : garage sale vintage door: side of the road curtain pole: IKEA paint: Dulux White on White paint on bedside : beach cottage white + Dulux Ice 1/4 bag: Cath Kidston lamp: IKEA camelias: BC garden old jug: thrifted

and it’s always changing getting a little coastal makeover


with ruffles and pink flowers…

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The Beach Cottage Family Room


(more recent pics of the Family Room as it is lately here)


So with the Family Room Before shots please note the stunning doors, decor and floor ;-)

Look past that and see the light flooding in, the plain walls plus molding and floorboards, the DIY-er’s dream


So as with the other rooms (dining room before/after here, sitting room before/afterhere) that needed serious help in this tatty old cottage we had a whole lot of work to do in this room. I don’t need to tell you how much I wailed and whinged. Do I?

So we cleaned, disinfected and prepped the walls and then painted everything in a simple standard white. Next sanded, filled, varnished and sealed the floors. So this was a blank canvas to work with.

One of the things we liked about the cottage on that fateful Open House day was the little sitting room to the front separate from this Family Room at the back but I wanted to make this area nice also,not just a place for the kids to trash. Though they often try. And succeed.

I wanted it sectioned off somehow and to create a multi-functionalliving room with lots of places for us all to do the things we like to do. First I used the big IKEA unit as a room divider but it didn’t work at all, cut the room up, blocked the light and encumbered the flow. But once I’d done that I knew the division needed to be lower down with furniture and rugs to maintain the light…

(another look here)

So I went for sofas to create a separate area. I think these are the biggest splurge here at the Beach Cottage and lots of people have asked me if I am totally off my head buying white leather sofas with 3 children and more are my kids or guests alowed to move? Well now, I’m not sure if I’d buy these again, not because of the colour but more because of the leather – I have been very used with our other sofas to pulling the covers off every few months or so and shoving them in the washing machine. Can’t quite get away with that with leather.

I wanted a blend in this area of mix and match textures – wood, wicker, linen and leather all work wonderfully together…so next I added the rug to the floor to create a distinct section and I found a coffee tableon the side of the roadto contrast the clean feel of the leather with the old weathered coastal chic look of the table. And added a couple of side tables either side of the sofas and the old whitewashed oars to the wall to integrate more natural textures and that laid-back nautical vibe.

The computer area is a new addition, so that the kids homework and the like is kept in the family zone and means the study is now all mine. There are wicker baskets underneath and in the unit for the kids to fill with their stuff and to add warmth and tradition to all the white



I cried again at the patio door you see below…it was doubly worse because I don’t think it had ever been cleaned. I spent days,not hours cleaning it, the layers of grime in the runner where it opened had to be chipped out with a screwdriver and the architrave was scrubbed with a toothbrush to wash away the sun-caked dirt. Nice.

Here’s how lovely the door looked before complete with ever so stylish non-smoking sign :-0


When we first moved in here I concealed these HIDEOUS patio doors with double layer linen curtains from IKEA….when we had some money to invest we went for these white timber sliding middle opening doors…my preference was French doors, however that meant limits to space…every single tradie told me to go for bi-fold doors, but really they have never been for me…these have done the trick quite nicely





So that’s it, a budget makeover for a tiny Beach Cottage Family Room with multi uses with a casual, coastal, country-ish feel, if you want some more ideas on how to get that laid-back beachy feel without breaking the bank, I wrote some tipshere

you can find more Family Room goings-on here, and here plus see the before plus a step-by-step of the blue side tablehere

sofas: Freedom rug: IKEA table: side of road painted in Dulux Antique White unit: IKEA Expedit vintage chairs: all thrifted lantern: Target white metal pail: Targetpoles: IKEA drapes: (white)IKEA Lenda (unbleached) IKEA Aina computer table: old side table painted with Dulux Whisper White lamps: Vinnies + Target shades throw: IKEA votive holders: glasses covered with burlap from coffee sacks light fitting: IKEA oars: garage sale pillows:garage sale + beach shop candle holder: IKEA burlap bucket bag:made by me, tutorialhere

Dining Room


This is for those of you who often email me asking for advice (keep ‘em coming) and might be wailing (like I often do) ‘poor me!!! I have a hideous house with no sign of potential, it will never look nice, it has green shag pile carple, gold light fittings, mould on the walls and I have NO money’ yadda yadda yadda

So this was the dining room when we came to the Open House, yep these people really did have an Open House in this state. Too funny really, we won’t even mention the dead rodent in the back garden…

Here’s what it looks like now…of course it was all very much DIY and of course on a shoestring budget.


The floor when we viewed it was dressed in all manner of coverings , you can see from that before shot that this section where they had a table had a piece of linoleum underneath it and on top of this was carpet with a ‘corner’ cut out for the linoleum, to add a bit of glamour there were a couple of rugs in very different styles strewn through the middle. Do I need to mention the errm cleanliness of this area? But we sneaked down and pulled up the layers…and underneath was wood.

As we walked around with lots of other people also looking or should I saygasping, we began to think that this could be the one. It was just near enough to the beach and the school, commutable for Mr BC’s job, it was on a big plot, in a quiet road, with a lake and bush park 5 mins one way, playing fields just down the road and the beach 5 mins the other way. And because of the state of it the price meant we could afford to keep our house in England.

The funniest thing was, as I look back, that there was an almost frantic feel to all these people looking around this hideous Open House, this suburb is very ‘tightly held’ as they say in estate agent speak and although this wasthe worst house we’d looked at (and we’d looked at heaps), in terms of all those things above we knew it was while not quite a diamond in the rough, it was gonna go quickly.

But the day we took the keys we didn’t think that. I cried. A lot. There was wailing too. In fact I think all five of us wailed a bit.

Anyway so we spent days just in this room on the prep stuff, not my forte, but it had to be done, you can’t see from the photos but there was 30 + years of grime in here from these owners, first we prepped the walls and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned – we washed, bleached and disinfected it all, the ceiling, floors and walls and scrubbed the wood and doorframes with toothbrushes.

Next we sanded, filled, varnished and sealed the floors and added the rug to make this area a distinct section of the room…

And then the walls which unlike the older section of the house, thankfully, had no wall coverings on and it was just (ha!) a case of cleaning and painting.


The table and unit we already had – were bought for the first house we lived in when we came to Australia and had absolutely no furniture because it was packed in a container somewhere on the back of the ship making it’s way to us here.

The table is a great budget piece (though I’m on the hunt for a ‘new’ old one and I have been for a while, no such luck as of yet), when I bought this I wanted very plain, very square simple lines and it needed to have a leaf so it could extend – and something that would act as a contrast to vintage shabby chairs at the end and could be piled with old china…no heirloom of course, but the great thing is this table works for our family at the moment – it’s like one of those adverts for living (tho I’m not the oh-so-smiley mum in the floaty dress *wink) – with kids arts and crafts scattered all over it, teenager’s homework, my sewing stuff, tea and then good old IKEA it all wipes off and dresses itself up again, as if by magic…


The other side we slotted in the unit for the time being, but it’s doing well actually, it’s great for all the kids’ junk – the baskets just pull out and they can throw it all in…I’m on the lookout for a vintage dresser for here, but one without a top, chunky…above I want a line of floating shelves…or vintage shelves…haven’t found them yet…

We recently stuck a couple of floating shelves on the end wall, the skinny ones, and this means you can change the look all the time with different things leaning here and there….gotta love a vintage mirror…

You can find more of this dining area, dressed up and ready to work for it’s living,here,here, and my favourite tablescape, including a video (!)here and if you want tablescaping tips on how I do it gohere.



The Sitting Room 

The Sitting Room before pics were much the same as the Family Room…like gros, this also had heaps of potential, old high celings and oh my to the beautiful Australian light that floods in here when the sunshine is out…


 what we were faced with here was a whole lot of mess (& you thought the non-art on my walls was bad)


first impressions, hideous grimy colours, piles of junk, outdated fittings…a door that had been blocked up with a melamine bookcase…and did I mention the errrrm fragrance?


but wait and look beyond and you’ll see a fairly decent ceiling with a bit of detail and no gunk, wallpaper that could be easily removed, a faux bookcase that could be ripped out, a wide double sash window with heaps of sunlight streaming in and a wood floor under years of carpet layers…and a space that while not perfect offered opportunities away from the Family Room for quiet time…

So here’s what we did, first we pulled up the carpet layer, then the linoleum layer, then the newspaper layer and underneath we already knew was a beautiful wood plank floor (we sneakily pulled up every piece of carpet as we walked around).

That was sanded, in-filled, varnished and sealed.


Next we painted the whole room in simple, standard white (since been changed to Dulux Whisper White which doesn’t show up but is a touch of cool grey to the white) to clean it up and give us a quick easy palette should we want to change it in the future.

Painting everything in white meant we didn’t have to worry about cutting in and meant it was not only much quicker but meant we could buy in bulk meaning more economical.

The faux bookcase (purlease) you can see in the top photo that the owners for some reason put in was to the left of middle of one wall, it meant the room felt very tight and boxed in, apart from the its errm aesthetic properties…

So we pulled it out, it hid the original doorway to the breakfast room. You can see here the original architrave is still there, we considered pulling that off and making it slightly wider, more of an arch but in the end because, again of time constraints we just painted it white and left it at that

We’ve since talked about a glass door here but I now kinda like the little old doorway…


Old sash windows was on of the things on our list of must-haves for our old Beach Cottage when we were house hunting, these were for sure worse for wear, but they came up pretty ok and I love pulling them up with the breeze blowing in…Mr BC is not so sure and threatens to replace them in Stage II (like he’s got a say *wink)


One of the panes was cracked so we repaired that and I spent a whole morning from very early til after lunch cleaning this one window. Years and years of neglect were stuck on there – I scrubbed the little runners with a toothbrush. That afternoon as the paint went on it all suddenly started to look just a little less frightening…

Here’s the other side now

and often the blinds are up, windows wide and displaying a few shells


So on the window we added white blinds to emulate plantation shutters but without omitting the beautiful light that streams through here and without the cost.

Next up went a double layer curtain fixture in matt steel, with clear round finials. Bottom layer drape natural unbleached linen and top layer a white heavy drop cotton.

The other side of this room there is another door to the tiny entrance hall which makes this room tricky to arrange furniture and this little corner has seen many a camera shot as I have collected various pieces of treasure and tried them out here… for the moment it is like this but one of the changes coming up is a small two seater sofa for here somehow…on the other side of the coffee table



So that’s it, a little cottage trash to beachy treasure

you can find more sofa pics, where it’s working for a living at the Beach Cottage and see how the furniture gets up and moves around all by itself ;-) here,here,here, and here.

and you can read here ways to add a bit of coastal country style in your sitting room for not a lot