The Making of the Mariner
Hosting guests in their Mornington Peninsula holiday homes is something Sian and Peter West have been doing with heart for over 18 years now. Becoming aware of a lack of stylish family accommodation that they could rent for visiting family, the couple decided to buy an investment beach house ‘project’ in Rye. Little did they know how this would grow into the thriving holiday business they now run today.
Eighteen years later Ocean Blue Coastal Retreats now manages over 35 stylishly curated properties on the Peninsula and The Gippsland Lakes. Following on from the success of the renovation of their own holiday homes, Sian and designer friend, Fee Mahy, were inspired to branch out and start Zhush-It in 2019. Believing that the styling of a holiday home is paramount not only to it’s rental success, but also to the guest experience Zhush-It’s mission is to help holiday home owners achieve similar success with their own properties.
"In our experience, holiday home owners rarely budget or see the importance of the interior styling of their holiday home. It is important to us that our guests have an amazing all-round experience when they stay in one of our holiday homes and that these holiday houses are as beautiful as our own homes, if not better, with a little fun thrown in." says Sian. Drawing on their years of holiday rental experience they feel they know what works and what doesn’t and help each of our holiday home owners to bring out the best in their individual homes.
Though these days Sian and Peter mostly manage the holiday homes of other home owners, they are often still unable to resist a ‘project’ or two of their own. Whilst away on one of their own escapes to the favourite town of Metung on the Gippsland Lakes they have been tempted twice, renovating two properties in this gorgeous township. Buoyed by the success of their first renovation in the town, The Oar House, they couldn’t resist the potential of their next project in Bossie Court.
The Inspiration behind the making of The Mariner
When Fee Mahy first visited the house, to get a lie of the land and a feel for the house, she could see the great potential in the house perched high in a quiet court overlooking the lake. The exterior was beige, tired and in desperate need of a facelift and some love. The colour of the terracotta roof dominated, rather than the beautiful view of the lake that lay ahead, so they decided the house and roof needed to be painted black.
Fee loves to work with themes when styling holiday homes, it helps her find inspiration and gets her creative vibes flowing. Working with a theme can be a delicate process and she recognises that care needs to be taken when working to find that balance and ensure that her styling choices are authentic and never tacky. Fee ultimately wants to create unique, experience destination stays for guests seeking an escape from reality…even if only for a weekend.
The first time Fee visited this Metung house it was the long panel of windows on the top floor, with the view over the lake catching her imagination. The lake view reminded her of a holiday spent on a barge in England and immediately she knew this waterside property had to have a nautical feel.
Below Decks at The Mariner - The Cabins
When you enter the house on the ground floor there are two of the guest bedrooms and the main bathroom. This downstairs corridor was dark and uninviting and whilst most might tempted to brighten this area, Fee decided to embrace the darkness and turn these downstairs rooms into cabins. Fee pictured cabins similar to those found on a ship. "I pictured the ‘3rd class’ passengers living down here (the kids) haha and decided to have fun with these spaces." said Fee.
These spaces ended up being Fee’s favourite in the whole project. The angled ceilings were painted in a dark blue/black colour from Porters Paint to further enhance the cosy, cabin feel. The doors were finished with enamel plate cabin numbers and copper bunker lights outside each room finish the look. The iron beds, antique shop find locker and drawers and rope lights add so much to the fun in these rooms. "It is amazing to see the look of delight on guest faces as they arrive. No longer is there a fight over who has the best bedroom."
The Captain's Lounge
As you head up a small flight of stairs from the downstairs hallway you arrive in the ‘Captain’s Lounge’. Once used to house a table tennis table we immediately felt that this room needed to be a space with the vibe of a gentleman’s cigar club. Each wall has it’s own hero piece. The tiles behind the log burner were chosen to mimic the colours of the Metung lakes and needed to be floor to ceiling for maximum impact. A purpose built library wall and day bed were built on another wall and are filled with old books and interesting memorabilia from lakeside days gone by.
The day bed gives a wonderful place to curl up with a good holiday read, especially for those stays in the cooler seasons. Doors open out onto the deck with lake views and on the last wall Fee created portraits using photos of Sian and Peter’s dogs for a bit of fun. The leather sofa was a grass-verge rescue can you believe!
Sian & Peter are dog lovers and have always believed that our pets, as true members of our families, should also be able to come away on holidays with us. Ocean Blue Coastal Retreats is known for it’s stylish, pet-friendly accommodation.
The Top Deck - First Class Quarters
The last staircase takes you up to the light and airy top deck with another beautiful seating area and dining space overlooking the lake. Natural tones, linen fabrics and canvas curtains abound. Sailing fabric is used for curtains and other detailing continuing to nautical theme. All the furniture in this room was found on Facebook Marketplace, including this amazing sofa….so comfy. Fee created inexpensive ‘artworks’ for the walls using another antique shop find, an old life jacket, that looks as though it has been rescued from the Titanic, is displayed in a wonderfully inventive way.
The Main Bedroom
The main bedroom, also on this floor, is bright and decorated with blues, greens & neutrals to give a calm, relaxing atmosphere. The four-poster bed and window seat are so inviting they will have you never wanting to leave.
Any stylist will tell you the fun in any renovation project is in the details. When Fee created the story for The Mariner it was as a place to drop anchor and rest from the storm.
All of Fee's styling finds were found in local antique shops and reclamation yards.