If we’ve been friends for a while now, you know how obsessed I am with island style. But my beachy taste doesn’t stop with clothing, and I’ll pretty much put a splash of turquoise and a starfish on just about anything! In fact, it’s a running joke within our family that if it’s not blue, Kim’s not gonna like it! Haha
My home in Australia is nestled in the picturesque Boambee valley, on the mid north coast of New South Wales. Whilst only a 7 minute drive from the ocean, our property in the rolling hills and tall trees feels a bit like it could take you hours to get your toes sandy. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. “The Coffs Coast” has become very well developed since my parents moved there 30 years ago while I was away studying at university, and the coastline itself can be a little crowded. When we were planning to move home from the Caribbean, we knew we wanted to be close to the beach but above all else, we really wanted the space and privacy that a property on the other side of the Pacific Highway would provide. When this little piece of paradise became available, we fell in love with it and even bought the land before we even stepped foot back on Aussie soil. Once we were home and Evie was born, I then completed my "Home Builders" course and permit so that we were able to complete most of the (huge!) project ourselves.
We started building the house 12 years ago, Maya (now 19) was 7 and Evie (now 12) was just a tiny baby. We were living at home with my Mum, I was working hard to grow West Indies Wear while at home with the baby and Justin was working full-time to pay the bills and doing all the building work himself, so needless to say it was slow going but we progressed with our plans one (literal) brick at a time. Whilst we thought we would have the house livable (or at least move-in-able) in a year, our lives took a detour when we found out we were pregnant with Jordy when Evie had just turned 1. Surprise!! Finally we moved into our home just 2 weeks before Jordy was born : there were no doors, and lots of gaps in the walls, a roof over our head, running water, a makeshift kitchen and flushing toilet. We got the exterior doors put in pretty quickly as with all the bush around us, I was terrified of snakes getting into the house. I bathed the babies in a plastic baby bath tup for a year. The first few winters were freezing but I would feed the kids early, bath them and send them upstairs where the house was more enclosed. We had wooly boots and dressing gowns and I insisted the kids kept their warm clothes on. We were together in our home after all those years, and that was all that mattered. Little by little over the next 10 years we made improvements as we had the money to do so.
When we were sailing across the Atlantic Ocean all those years ago, all I could think about at the time was building a little house in Australia. I would sing this old Australian song at sea “give me a home amongst the gumtrees, with lots of plum trees, a sheep or two and a kangaroo, clothesline out the back, veranda out the front and an old rocking chair” From the moment we started dreaming of building our own home, we knew we wouldn’t be building a “normal Australian house” - we wanted cottagey, cute, using recycled building materials where possible and natural as possible. Of course I also wanted to make it “beachy”. We were inspired by the stone walls on the stunning island of Saba, and loved the idea of a stone cottage like the “olden days”. Little did we know that those stone walls would take Justin 2 years to complete, it was over 500 batches of concrete, hand mixed in the wheel barrow. We wanted white-washed walls like those adorable cottages in Greece and a bunch of turquoise accents (think Mammamia movie).
I went crazy planting palm trees everywhere, and then tropical flowers like Ginger and heliconia's. Anything that I could scrounge from friends gardens, and pick up cheaply at local markets. We had in mind to one day get a pool, but of course that was a long way before we could afford that. When it finally went in, we had piles of ugly clay dirt everywhere, and I was just thinking, how will I ever get that to look tropical. Of course palm tree fever took over, and now 4 years down the track it looks like a tropical pool in Bali.
While all these years on, I still feel like our home is a continuous work in progress, I wanted to share with you some of the key elements of our home that keep our Caribbean spirit alive. Although our beach house style sometimes gets buried under the mess of being a busy family of 5 (+ a dog and a cat of course), a breezy and relaxed feel is at the heart of our home.
I hope you enjoy this tour of our little landlocked beach house...
Even before we started building our home, I had began to plan out our tropical oasis surroundings. I knew I wanted to transfer the Aussie bush land into an exotic vibe, lush with palm trees, bougainvillea, heliconias, hibiscus, frangipani, and ferns. Now that the garden has had time to grow and mature, I could not be happier with the result.
We love a great collage of photo frames and almost all of the pictures displayed in our home are inspired by family, the beach, and adventure. From my husband’s hometown of Jeffreys Bay, South Africa to the West Indies, our wall hangings tell so many stories and remind us that the islands are always close to our hearts.
Island Inspired Trinkets
Over our many years of adventuring, we gathered so many beachy trinkets that I love to display ( although, I don’t love to dust them!) From sea shells collected in the Caribbean to blue glass vases and ocean-scented candles, I try really hard to keep our home in the island style that I love so much.
These glass jars and bottles found washed up on the shore in the Caribbean.
The pool was an obvious dream from the very start of our dream home project. With our long and hot summers in Australia and all the cousins who live close by, having a pool as a kids entertainment source was an obvious choice. My kids are definitely water babies, and Evie and Jordy will spend hours splashing about in the Summertime. My clever husband even built a little poolside hut that I can hang out in while I supervise the pool time play. With a couple of white wicker comfy chairs, and beachy decor, the area even made a cute backdrop for one of our West Indies Wear photoshoots.
Caribbean Colored Accents
Of course my house would never feel like home if it wasn’t for a splash of Caribbean color in every corner. A little bright green rocking chair here, and a pop of turquoise there provides the perfect splash of island color. Justin even built our kitchen cabinetry in an island style, with a varnished distressed wood look in all the colors of the ocean.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour through life at my Seaside in a Valley home. Although I have all the normal artsy-type struggles of letting the mess and incomplete projects pile up as I get sidetracked and start designing something new, I sure do love our home and am proud of what we have achieved on the journey. From the moment we bought the plot of land, we knew that this area was exactly where we wanted to build our dream home and raise our kids. And every day since then, I remind myself how much our home means to me and how much it will continue to mean to our family for many years to come.
Are you dreaming of creating your own island-style home from scratch? There are lots of ways you can incorporate the Caribbean, without packing up and moving to the coast. Start by making a little list, vision board or Pinterest board of the main features you want to include. I have always loved Pinterest for gathering inspiration for new projects! The most important thing to remember while you are decorating your home is to make sure your style is true to you, and that your home will reflect who you are as an authentic island girl.