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Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

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We’re pretty well convinced that Byron Bay is the most popular place on the planet right now(!), so if you’re seeking a trip to the Northern Rivers, it’s worth looking slightly beyond the hustle and bustle to the region’s fringes.

Someone who did just that is personal trainer Sean Houlahan, who moved at the peak of the pandemic last year from Byron’s centre to Booyong, located 40 minutes away. 

Together with friend and interior designer Kimberley Wiedermann of Accolade Design, they’ve created a beautiful house built with recycled materials, which is now available to rent on Airbnb

12th April, 2021

Rockhaven at Booyong is the Byron Shire’s newest boutique accomodation. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

Interior design and styling was completed by the owner’s friend,  Kimberley Wiedermann of Accolade Design, Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

Kimberley has a knack for sourcing recycled materials, like these tall louvered windows. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

A central fireplace heats the entire space. ‘You can lie in bed and watch the crackle, or be in the living space,’ says Kimberley. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

The build was completed over six months in 2020. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

The vision was to create a large open-plan studio for Sean and his dog. ‘We tried to think of effective ways to build and in regards to the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and the associated plumbing,’ Kimberley says. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

Kimberley describes the entire build as quite “fly by the seat of your pants”, yet considered. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

The 1900s bath – sourced from a vintage collector! Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

Beautiful linens provide an added touch of luxury for guests. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

The front barn doors were sourced from Facebook Marketplace, and the metal bracing detail added. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

The home is located on the site of a former machinery shed. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

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. Photo – Tim Reed & Renée Rae of In Sitū Studio

Amelia Barnes
Monday 12th April 2021

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!  

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net