Byron Bay’s popularity has been on the rise for many years, but when COVID-19 took hold last year, Byron was busier than ever. City dwellers from up and down Australia’s east coast descended on the idyllic coastal town, choosing to relocate indefinitely.
Sean Houlahan observed this growing trend, and took the opportunity to relocate away from the centre of town, purchasing a property 40 minutes away in Booyong. The personal trainer was seeking a quieter existence, and he found it on this 60-acre site encompassing green fields, fig trees, and sunset views.
There was no house on the block at the time – just a machinery shed on a concrete slab – which Sean and his friend Kimberley Wiedermann, interior designer at Accolade Design, used as the foundation for a home.
‘With the impending COVID restrictions creeping up on us, it became evident that this was the space to start building immediately… The perfect haven for Sean if the inevitable global pandemic was to hit,’ Kimberley says.
The vision was to create a large open-plan studio for Sean and his dog. ‘We tried to think of effective and efficient ways to build, in regards to the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and the associated plumbing,’ Kimberley says. ‘We came up with the idea to raise that section of the house so that the infrastructure could be easily built underneath (and not too much digging).’
Recycled materials were sourced to give the structure an inherent character, while also fast tracking the build. Kimberley explains, ‘Buying something ready made and ready to install was exactly what we wanted.’
Tall louvred windows and lights were salvaged from an old warehouse, a 1900s bath was picked up from a vintage collector, and front doors were sourced from Facebook Marketplace. ‘When they arrived to site, they fell over in a freak wind…. which called for the metal bracing detail,’ says Kimberley of the doors. ‘It’s these things that, although unplanned, created details that add charm and character.’
The newest addition to the property is a water tank turned pool (sadly not completed prior to this shoot!) positioned in prime view of the sunset. ‘We wanted a dark pool to represent a sort of cattle trough – providing pleasure to those staying in a hot summer, but also not there screaming “I’m a pool” either,’ Kimberley says.
Sean and Kimberley are so proud of what they’ve achieved, they’ve decided to embark on another project on the same site, while placing this home on Airbnb. This second building will serve as Sean’s personal home along with a boutique personal training studio in a similar interior aesthetic to the accommodation.
Further in the future, Sean and Kimberley have plans to build a series of small off-grid cabins on the block. Stay tuned!