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A Quaint + Charming Holiday Cottage That Feels Like Home

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Harrison Balodis was housesitting a cottage in Pambula, on the Sapphire Coast of New South Wales for two weeks in 2012. He instantly fell in love with this quaint little place, in the centre of town. He told the owner he would be the first in line to purchase if she ever decided to sell. Four years later, he got the call.

In 2016, Harrison and his partner Miranda O’Rourke packed up their lives in Sydney and moved south to set up their new home in the 150-year-old cottage. They embarked on a big DIY renovation and restoration project, enlisting local friends to help with the building and scouring op-shops for all the perfect interior pieces.

Two years later, and they opened up their beloved cottage home as a holiday rental – Lotte’s Hjem, named after the owner Harrison had bought it from. Whilst interstate travel may be temporarily off the cards for some of us, we’re definitely earmarking this cosy coastal cottage for future holiday plans!

9th June, 2021

Best view in the hjem! The kitchen window opens out to the breakfast bar in the courtyard. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Owners Harrison and Miranda enliste friends and locals to help with the updates, including this concrete bench! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The kitchen is completely new, but with personal touches from Miranda’s vintage scouring and additions from local makers to keep it consistent with the rest of the house. Photo – Lean Timms.

The light-filled kitchen bleeds into the dining room. Photo – Lean Timms.

Miranda is a keen op-shopper and found many of the items in the cottage herself. It’s details like this that make the house feel loved and lived in! Photo – Lean Timms.

The lush gardens are visible from nearly every room in the house. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Photo – Luisa Brimble.

A very inviting reading nook. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Bright colours, patterns and materials adorn the bedrooms. Photo – Lean Timms.

A haphazard salon wall. Photo – Lean Timms.

Soft furnishings like linen and cushions soften the bright bedroom. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

When the couple first moved in, the whole house had to be re-weatherboarded and insulated! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Throughout the house there are signs of the house’s 150-year-old age! Photo – Lean Timms.

Lush gardens surround the cottage and will soon house a pizza oven, outdoor kitchen and bath under the kurrajong tree! Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Miranda in the garden. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

The beautiful blue beach. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 9th June 2021

The Sapphire Coast lies exactly between Sydney and Melbourne, a long stretch of beachy goodness characterised by pristine blue surf and lush national park. The quaint and quiet towns within the shire have been experiencing a resurgence in the last decade, welcoming newcomers in search of a quieter life, and those returning home. Miranda O’Rourke and Harrison Balodis are two of the latter.

The young couple were just 21 and 22 years old when they moved to Pambula in 2016 after purchasing a cottage that Harrison had discovered randomly after housesitting the place a few years prior. Seduced by the rambling fix-up job surrounded by beautiful green vegetation, the pair embarked on an epic restoration job, to equip the aged house for modern life.

Miranda (a criminologist with a love for op-shopping!) and Harrison stripped back the garden and re-weatherboarded the house, installing new insulation and waterproofing while they were there. It was essential to completely re-fit the kitchen and bathroom, but the couple added plenty of unique, personal touches such as an antique bath imported from France, brushed tapware from a friend’s local business, and pink Moroccan splashback tiles to keep the new zones consistent with the layered, rustic feel of the rest of the house.

The pair also enlisted friends and local builders to produce a few statement features, like the vast concrete kitchen bench, and the louvred kitchen window that opens out to the courtyard.

Once the structural updates were done, the pair set about furnishing and styling the home, to really lift the ambience.

‘We collected old wares and antiques to style the kitchen, lots of beautiful platters for people to serve food on and lots of baking tins,’ says Miranda, whose eye for styling is on full display here. Soft furnishings like linen, pillows and lush doonas in pinks and greens were essential to making the space warm and cosy.

At the heart of the gardens lies a giant kurrajong tree, which will soon shelter an outdoor bath beneath its canopy. Harrison and Miranda even have plans to build a pizza oven and an outdoor kitchen before the year is up.

‘We want every aspect of the house to be enjoyed, and it’s exciting to know that we’re getting there!’ says Miranda.

Even with some tweaks to be made, this beach-side cottage is already perfection. It really feels like home!

Lotte’s Hjem is available for bookings now. Have a look at the listing here.

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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.

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