Proudly retro, brazenly bold. Roz Johnston’s Mollybook make-over of this 1960s beach cottage brings it right home, where it has always belonged.
It is a moderately hot December afternoon and the coastal breeze has just begun its gentle relief. As I walk towards Roz Johnston’s beach house, freshly painted in a deep blue/mid orange contrast, a feeling of familiarity sweeps over me. It’s the sixties beach house to a tee, complete with a large, blank front coastal lawn, round rock garden, the cement and grass driveway and even a Kombi parked out front.
Beach cottages just like this one were dotted all over the place in the sixties, stilted and simple, they took advantage of the view, the breeze and the need for easy living. “I’ve always loved the sixties beach cottage,” Roz says explaining her passion. “Dad was an architect, I grew up with design, and a passion for buildings. I had my eye on this one for a while. It’s got good bones.”
Good bones maybe, but there was still a lot to do. When Roz acquired the house it was full of old furniture, tatty original carpet and the smell of cat wee. There were also many decisions to be made, like will we live here, or not. In the end they decided not to extend the cottage, but to build a family home behind as a dual occupancy, and renovate the cottage as a holiday rental, although Roz holds a dream of moving into the cottage one day when the kids have left home.
The first thing that strikes you about the retro retreat is the bold use of colour. “The colours came to me as I did it. I wanted to create a happy place. It doesn’t suit everyone, but I think it brings the era out well.”
Keeping as much of the original detail as possible, the renovation began. Out with the breakfast bar and the carpet, out with the small separate toilet, in with the colour, in with simplicity and in with practicality. Luckily, when Roz began the work in 2014, there was a flood of bright retro styled fittings on the market and all she had to do was take a deep, deep breath and say “yes please I’ll order it”.
Like the perfect, so orange, so modern vanity for the upstairs bathroom, or the lime-wash woodgrain bathroom tiles which look just like floorboards, or the glassy orange splashback in the kitchen, which isn’t glass at all, but aluminium and made by Laminex. Mixing those bright green kitchen cupboards with the orange splashback is pure genius, with a lot more deep breathing, of course.
The rest was styling. The fun part, the rewarding part – definitely the part that requires the most skill, the most passion and the keenest eye. “I set out to create the best holiday home in Mollymook. One that everyone will enjoy, that suits everybody, has room for the kids and is just simple, fun and bright.”
With a collection of Parker furniture already at her disposal, Roz got busy. “I found a lot of pieces at Nikki B’s in Milton, and a lot from Freedom. I’ve mixed a lot of old with new.”
The overall feel is good. Sitting in the lounge room, the view and the closeness to the beach creates an air of calmness and relaxation synonymous with small beach towns. The décor remains simple – a few vintage lounge chairs, a Parker dining table, a few prints by local photographer Dean Dampney. There’s a mix of old and new, retro and vintage, sentimental bits and lucky finds. Kombis and surf boards feature heavily – pictures, magnets, coasters.
“I still get that same feel when I come to the door, when I sit on the deck. The view – this is where I eventually want to live.”
As I walk away, uplifted by the effects of colour, sea air and funkiness, I hear a tune playing softly in my mind – all you need is love, love … love is all you need.