Styling a very small house – the lounge room

It’s been three years and three months since we took possession of our little seaside cottage in the south west town of Busselton. It was a gigantic leap of faith when we placed an offer on the little place, sight unseen, whilst we up in Katherine in the Northern Territory. Our offer was accepted, and we travelled down to see what we had let ourselves in for.

A lot of work was needed for sure, but we were up for the challenge. What we hadn’t anticipated was the difficulties of furnishing such a little place. There have been many, many errors along the way, mainly with furniture that just didn’t work. Finally though, I think we’re there. We think we now have the little house functioning to the best of it’s ability, and without any walls being knocked out, or any additions to the main structure. 

Our little house has no grand entrance, in fact there is no entrance hall or foyer at all. The front door opens directly into the living room. The living area comprises of the kitchen, dining room and lounge area, with the front door opening directly into the lounge. Without obstructing the access area from the front door through to the rest of the house, the furnishing area of the lounge area is 2.3 metres x 5 metres, with a second door to the outside patio area about 3/4 of the way along the longer side. The length of the room is sufficiently generous, but the 2.3 metre width proved to be a real challenge.  

Firstly we purchased a gorgeous, white leather chaise type sofa. We bought it second hand, before we had taken possession of the house. Yes, it fitted, but it was clearly completely wrong for the area, and had to go. With the limited market of selling second hand away from the main metropolitan area we could only  manage to get a little less than half of what we’d paid for it. Never mind – no use crying over spilt milk, as my dear old mum would have said. 

MMMM….. the sofa could only be positioned so as to be looking at a blank wall along the entrance way. What had we been thinking – it clearly had to go.

Next came a new lazy boy sofa, with two little occasional chairs. In hind sight I think these were purchased as a bit of knee jerk reaction to the beautiful, but too big, white leather sofa. They looked fine in the small area. The sofa was a small three seater with a recliner at each end, and the middle section folded down to form a small coffee table. For two people it was okay, but accommodating three on it felt a tad squashy. The two occasional chairs both looked and worked well in the area, but the reality was there was only comfortable seating for four people. Finally, I broached the subject. I thought the lazy boy sofa  had been a mistake, and I thought we should go back to our original idea of an L-shaped sofa. 

The problem was that most of the ready made L-shaped lounges were too long on either one, or both sides. After much research it became clear that we had to go down the be-spoke line, and so we ordered our new L-shaped lounge to be made to fit our dimensions perfectly. 

With the new lounge suite on order, we decided we’d also go back to our original idea of furnishing the house with some shabby chic/coastal style furniture. We picked up an old coffee table on line for $40 (you have to have some wins), and Paul took to it with the sander and Annie sloan, old white, chalk paint. The top has had several coats of satin finish, polyurethane. 

Perhaps here is good place to mention the window treatments, which hadn’t been straight forward either. The drapes and pelmets were removed early on, leaving the thin line Venetians for block out. Next we hung full length, white, gauzy drapes which we thought looked pretty good.  However, full length drapes, no matter how fine and gauzy, don’t belong in such a tiny house. Out they went, to be replaced with wide slatted, white, venetian blinds purchased at a half price sale from Spotlight. Our original thoughts had been to furnish the house coastal style, with white shutters and with the shabby chic/coastal style furniture. The wide slat venetian blinds provided a bit of a shutter look but without the hefty price tag. However, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  We had lashed out on shutters for our bedrooms earlier last year, and finding them so easy to live with, and to clean, we had no hesitation in ordering the hefty priced shutters for our living area too. So far no regrets – absolutely none, I love them. 

Our lounge suite arrived, our shutters were fitted, and our newly up-cycled coffee table looked great. Next came the re-furbishment of a pine entertainment unit to replace the modern look white and chrome unit we had purchased (used, from Gumtree) when we first moved into the house. We were now up to the finishing touches. 

We both love the relaxed coastal style decor, including all the cheap and cheerful little nic-nacs that can be found in any seaside town. Our house displays a few little boat ornaments, and a third little sail boat model has been found for our lounge room.

the mirror above the TV serves no other purpose than to make the room look bigger, and to reflect light. Do you like our little sail boat collection?

Mirrors have been hung in strategic places to reflect light and add a feeling of space. A small canvas with a fishing boat on the shore is hung on the wall.

a mirror at the entrance reflects our little beached fishing boat canvas.

It was all looking pretty good, with the exception of cushions. We searched everywhere, including in the big metropolis of Perth, for cushions with the right colours. Tropical leaves and brightly coloured parrots just wouldn’t do…….  Finally, we searched on line and found what we were looking for at, The Coastal Cushion Company. 

I have to give a bit of a plug and a special thanks go to Kylie Foy from The Coastal Cushion Company (please note: this plug is not sponsored in any way). The selection Kylie has available is amazing, and very reasonably priced. Having found what I wanted, the order was placed, with the cost including postage. Kylie despatched them via express post, and kept track of the parcel via the postal tracking system, keeping me informed all the way. The cushion covers arrived from Queensland three days after despatch,  and were true to the photos I ordered them from. Originally, I had only ordered three, but quickly followed with an order for a fourth for myself, and two more as a gift for a friend. I now want three smaller, rectangle cushions in a plain, moody blue colour, (Hampton Bay navy) which currently is only available in square cushion covers. Kylie is looking into whether or not she can get them for me in the rectangular style. Finger’s crossed…..

So that’s how we managed to furnish and decorate the lounge room in our wee, coastal cottage. Almost every morning when I get up and walk into the lounge I think to my self – ‘I love what we’ve done with this room’. Yes, the shutters, the be-spoke L-shaped lounge that can now, at a reasonably comfortable push, seat six, the up-cycled, shabby chic/coastal coffee table and entertainment unit, the mirrors, our beached boat canvas, and our little collection of sail boats  – yes I love it all. The trial and errors along the way, well that just makes me appreciate it all the more. It makes it that much easier to be able to say, “what a pleasure”!

Styling a very small house – the guest rooms

Approximately three years ago we had a friend check out our little house before we placed our offer to purchase.

“It’s small”, she said, “very small, but the ceilings are high”. “It needs work, but I think it’s got potential”, as she walked through the house giving us her first impressions on each room. After telling us about the rest of the house she entered the second bathroom and told us, “There’s a second bathroom, it’s a ‘funny’ little bathroom, but, yes, there definitely is a second bathroom”.

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Styling a very small house – the master bedroom

We’ve now been living in our very small, beach cottage for almost three years, and when I say small,  I really do mean small. Not so small as to be classed as a ‘tiny house’,  but small enough that furnishing and decorating has been a challenge. There’s been lots of trial and error along the way, but I’m pleased to say we’re getting to the stage now where we’re happy with it.

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Autumn colour

The Chinese Tallow

You may remember on 13 March, only 27 days ago, I posted a few photos of changes we’re making in the garden. We’d just planted a Chinese Tallow Tree. The Tallow is a reasonably small back yard tree with gorgeous autumn colour. Autumn colour is rare in Western Australia.

The tree, in only 27 days has changed from summer green (the photo on the left) to a little display of autumn red (the photo on the right). We look forward to the tree maturing in yearsto come, and providing a more significant reminder that winter’s on the way. It’ll be nice to see it burst into renewed life come spring too.

The greens are growing too

We hadn’t even finished erecting our three raised vegetable gardens on 13th March.

one raised garden bed partially filled with soil and manure – two to go yet. By the week-end we should be ready to start planting.

A few days later we’d finished the three garden beds and planted some seedlings. When we returned from our four day break away, some of the greens looked to have grown with the speed of Jack’s Beanstalk. We’ve been picking baby leaves of mixed lettuce for our lunch almost daily now, and have had a few small meals of nice, young silver beet.

Mixed lettuce and silver beet only about three weeks since it was planted.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had our own vege garden. We’ve planted strawberries, brocolli, mixed lettuce, silver beet, celery, parsley, leeks , garlic, turnips and rhubarb. So far we’re only eating the lettuce, silverbeet and parsley. I wonder if we’ll get any strawberries before winter sets in. They have flowers, so fingers crossed. In the meantime though, what a pleasure it is to be adding freshly picked, young greens to our plate.

The Queen Elizabeth comes to our home-town

The Margaret River region is world renowned as a tourist destination. Our home-town of Busselton, located at the top of the Margaret River region has become a stop off destination for cruise ships allowing their passengers to dis-embark and get to see some of this famous region. Yesterday, Cunard’s ship, the Queen Elizabeth paid us a visit.

The previous day the ship was in the port of Fremantle, approximately 2 hours north of Busselton by road. Whilst in Fremantle people drove many kilometres from all over Perth to catch a glimpse of the visiting ship.

We live approximately 3 minutes walk to Geographe Bay. Yesterday when we went for our daily morning walk along the beach the Queen Elizabeth, a beautiful site on a glorious sunny day,  was anchored just off shore. How lucky are we, no driving needed to see this majestic, luxury liner.

In the late afternoon we again wandered down to the beach for a cooling swim. The tenders were returning their passengers to the ship ready for departure which was scheduled for 6pm. It was 5.30pm and we were wet and salty after our swim, so walked home to shower, and grab a bottle of bubbles. A quick text message to a couple of friends and within 15 minutes the four of us had walked back to the beach for a relaxing drink.  How lucky we were, sipping our champagne as we watched the big ocean liner ready herself for departure, knowing we are fortunate to have this all within just a few minutes walk from our front door.

6pm and the ship is readying for departure

The  passengers are now all back on board, and the last of the tenders is being loaded

The ship slowly does an about turn

Dusk falls as we sip the last of our champagne

and watch the Queen Elizabeth sail off into the sunset

Just another one of the pleasures of living in Busselton!

Storm batters south-west WA

We awoke this morning to the sound of battering winds and torrential rain. Winds of close to 110 kilometres an hour battered our coast. The rain was the heaviest I’ve ever seen. At one stage it was so heavy that I could have sworn we had ocean waves crashing over the house. To say it was ‘sheeting down’ was an understatement.

By mid-day the worst of the front had passed over and we were able to take Mr Tilly for his walk. Usually we incorporate a beach stretch for him to have a good romp off his lead. However, when we arrived at where our beach usually is, it was nowhere in sight. The tide was high and we had big waves surging as high as the beach shrubbery.

Our boat launching ramp under water with seaweed dumped well above usual water line

The small jetty beside the boat launching ramp

Several residents were out inspecting the beach damage, with some even braving the elements on zimmer frames and motorised gophers. It was clear what we were seeing was mild compared to the fury of the storm and tides during the morning hours. The walking track that runs parallel to the shoreline showed evidence of the waves having washed over the path. The path was littered with sand and seaweed. Benches had been ripped off their stumps and dumped high up in the beach shrubbery, or overturned in the water.

A concrete bench seat washed into the ocean

The fury of the ocean has washed out tonnes of sand, carving away at our shoreline.  The normally calm waters were frothing and awash with thick seaweed long after the worst of the weather had passed over. I have no doubt that once the water settles from it’s fury, it’s going to be leaving most of that seaweed where our sand should be.

The water awash with sand and seaweed

Residents were chatty as they inspected the damage sharing stories of previous storms. One resident said they hadn’t seen the ocean so high and wild since when Cyclone Alby hit in 1978. Others said it’s just winter as usual.

Usual or not, it’s going to take a while for our beautiful beaches to return to their normal pristine condition. Will Mr Tilly care – not one bit, just as long as he gets to romp along the shoreline.  As far as he’s concerned, the more seaweed on the beach, and the smellier it gets, the more fun he has. A messy beach, while not my cup of tea, is a joy to our Tills. He’ll be prancing around and charging after seagulls just as soon as there’s any visible sand to romp on. To him it’ll enhance his beach experience, he’ll be jumping for joy amongst the seaweed, and thinking to himself – what a pleasure!