Sitting opposite a lake near the New South Wales south coast town of Culburra, this dark and pokey home was transformed recently into an airy holiday rental by the husband and wife duo – screenwriter Chris Phillips and writer-director Steve Vidler. “We were looking for a holiday house and found this ugly duckling on the shores of Lake Woollumboola. We could see it had the potential to be a swan,” says Chris who overhauled the property at lightning speed with her husband.
“With just six weeks to get the house ready for the summer holiday rental market, we brainstormed the essentials for a relaxing holiday house. We decided it needed to have a well-ventilated, open plan living area to maximise the view, a spacious kitchen for cooking, clean and functional bathrooms, an outdoor lounging area and super comfortable furniture,” says Chris of the property they have since named Hemingway’s Lakehouse.
First up, the couple removed the home’s most dated interior features – the plastic concertina doors, gold fans, faux-Tiffany wall sconces, mildew-scented curtains and gold shag pile carpet all went into the skip. “Underneath the carpet, we found beautiful hardwood floorboards and after removing thousands of staples and the industrial glue used to fix the carpet to the floorboards, we sanded and polished them,” says Chris.
Arguably the most impactful part of the renovation was the removal of the home’s fake red brick veneer (seriously!?), which revealed beautiful old weather boards underneath. “The red brick was asbestos based, just to add to the appeal,” says Chris.
While the renovation schedule was tight the couple suffered inevitable setbacks. “Two weeks before Christmas the builder sent a text to say he was delayed with another job and wouldn’t be able to come back until mid-January. Not only had we lost any chance of getting the place ready for summer bookings, we now had to camp out in a place with no walls, no lights, and no sink,” says Chris.
“We had to cook everything on the BBQ and wash up in a plastic tub but we at least we could bunker down and get started on sanding, painting and buying furniture and appliances,” says Chris.
As for one of his favourite features, Chris loves the cane chair that hangs in the lounge room. “I had lusted after a cane hanging chair ever since I sat in one at Bondi Icebergs. I found one at Lawson’s Auctions and Steve found the perfect spot for it in the corner – it’s a great place to sit with a coffee and chat to everyone at the dining table, or with a glass of wine and watch the swans at sunset,” says Chris.
The duo used Pinterest to stay motivated. “We started a Pinterest page which was fantastic as it really helped us stay inspired when we had no walls, no kitchen and the builder flaked out on us,” says Chris.