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Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast 


by Sofia Tuovinen

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
wears two hats — one hat is a beanie that she shoves her curly hair under and wears when sailing across stormy seas. Ten years ago, with this hat on her head, she ventured on a journey across the Pacific Ocean, taking her beloved boat on a solo journey from Mexico to Australia. One dark night, in the middle of the ocean, a harrowing storm caught up with her and sunk the boat she called home. “[I] got very lucky and was eventually picked up by the Mexican navy — sounds like a tall tale but it’s all true,” Sarah confirms the incredible turn of events.

Since that fateful night at sea, Sarah has spent years looking for ways to replace that boat and the unparalleled feeling of seclusion and being one with the water. “There’s no greater feeling than living on the water, surrounded by those who are living a life cast off from society,” she explains. One day, flicking through a magazine, Sarah spotted a little Tasmanian cottage that was up for sale. She knew in an instant that it was the home that she had been looking for all those years. Without hesitation, Sarah bought the cottage, sight unseen. She packed her car full of tools and equipment, drove across Australia, crossed the ocean on a ferry, arrived in Tasmania, and picked up the keys.

Had Sarah known what awaited her in the small seaside village of Lettes Bay, she probably would have backed out. When she arrived at the cottage, she realized that she didn’t even need a key — all windows and doors were wide open and hanging off their hinges. On top of that, there was no electricity or running water. That first night, Sarah drank a bottle of port on the floor in her sleeping bag, cried for a few days and finally, pulled herself together and got to work.

Sarah spent the next six months tearing down and rebuilding the cottage. With the nearest hardware store an eight-hour round trip away, the renovation required plenty of will and determination, but she made it work. She also had to jump through some hoops to make changes to the 80-year-old heritage listed cottage, but was eventually able to design the entire floor plan from scratch. A combined lounge and kitchen area, a separate bedroom and a bathroom equipped with a clawfoot tub all offer the most stunning views of the water through huge antique windows that Sarah had installed. Respectful of its history, Sarah turned the once-rundown cottage into a home that is flexible and reflective of her personal taste.

The other hat that Sarah wears is a creative one — when it’s time to make a living, she finds a spot with wi-fi and works in communications design, PR and as a stylist, renovating and decorating homes with stories and heart. Her unique talent for creating breathtaking spaces and seeing beauty in the most mundane objects is obvious as soon as you set foot in her little cottage. It’s a serene space, lovingly decorated with old portraits, antiques, fine linens, luscious velvets and curated objects from both Australia and around the world. It is the warm decor, calming atmosphere and the presence of the sea that truly set Sarah’s waterfront home, which she befittingly named , apart from anything we’ve seen before. From the floor plan to the smallest decorative details, everything ended up coming together naturally and with ease. “It’s hard to describe how it worked, perhaps it was a certain magic, she just sort of appeared as if she had always lived,” Sarah describes the process. In Captains Rest, Sarah has finally found what she was looking for all these years — an escape by the water, a haven from the storms, and a place to call home. —

Photography by Sarah Andrews @

Image above: The lounge offers two comfortable spots to sit. They are both long enough to double as beds if friends stay over, or if a dinner party stretches long into the night. “I love lying here and watching the ocean or my fire crackling. I can also spot what the fishermen have caught, and if I pop my head out the door and say hello, I’ll always get a fish for tea,” Sarah shares.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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The view of the sky and the water through the huge antique windows is an ever-changing canvas that never gets old. “You can see the sea from every single corner of the house, from all the living spaces, from the bath, from the bed,” Sarah explains. “At times I feel like the sea is part of my house — I am so lucky.”

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Sarah loves old portraits, and picked this one up in a local shop. “I often wonder who this man was. I like to call him my Captain.”

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Dried flowers from a local giant protea tree that grows wild and hidden create a natural vignette in the lounge.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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In the kitchen, Sarah was able to exchange a set of glass sliding doors with antique French doors that are more beseeming the original feel of the cottage. “The lady [that sold them] was funny, she wouldn’t sell them to anyone unless she saw the spot they were going and approved it. They’d been on the market for years! I showed her my spot and begged and [pleaded] and she finally gave in. I’m so glad she did!” Sarah says.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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Sarah created a space that is perfectly flexible for her needs. The kitchen table is ideal for moments alone to plan and work or immerse in conversation with visiting friends.

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“I love that from anywhere I stand and stare, I can always see the world.”

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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“I made this kitchen just for me — not practical, just beautiful,” Sarah explains. “Somewhere to play with collections, make a mess and not really see it, and hide all the dishes in the sink.”

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Sarah combined two hand-carved beds, made for twin boys, to make one large bed for the bedroom. It wasn’t an easy task, and took about four months to complete. “I love this bed, I love that these boys will always be together now, I love that their dreams for a courageous life in the Tasmanian wildness still permeates in my dreams too.”

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The bedroom offers a stunning view of the forest and ocean. 

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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“So many items in my house are gifts from those I love,” Sarah explains. “My gorgeous friend gave me this little man. I love his crazy outfit, and I love that she just gets me.”

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Before buying her cottage, Sarah wrote a list of things that she wanted in her forever home. “At the top of the list was an old bath I could sit in and watch the water,” she recollects. The tub was one of the first things that she found a spot for during the renovation. She adds, “I used to have a shower over the top of it, but I never used it so I took it out and hung art around instead. Who needs to live practically when you can live wonderfully?”

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Sarah created a sink and bathroom storage unit out of an old writing desk. “Many many hours of sanding, painting, plumbing, wa and fi – but it was worth it.”

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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Sarah loves linen — these towels are perfect for hot days during the Tasmanian summer.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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Sometimes Sarah swaps sleeping spots, and sets up in front of the large window in the lounge. “The bay is always so still, so the moon and stars reflect like you’re in a giant snow globe.”

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The cottage windows are antique. “When the windows went in, everyone said I must change the glass for the best view. I disagree, I think it’s far more beautiful. Nothing makes anything more wonderful than age,” Sarah says.

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At dawn, Sarah enjoys moments by the fire, drinking strong black coffee and flipping through magazines.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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The breathtaking views of Captains nest, Sarah’s secluded getaway.

Captains Rest, a Secluded Waterfront Cottage on the Tasmanian Coast | Design*Droits-Humains
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Sarah’s upcoming project is building a bullnose veranda, as the current porch was modernized at some point. “I also have about ten climbing roses and a trailer-load of rosemary, lavender and westringia to grow all over and around her,” she adds.

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“My home is so much more than a home. At times I feel it’s a handful of magic beans that I can trade for whatever I need in my life at that time. Peace, joy, love, beauty, dreams, poetry, silence, song. I’m also so thankful I get to when I’m off on other adventures, and this place gives the gifts it gives to me, also, to others.” — Sarah

SOURCE LIST

Paint – Dulux USA White (inside and Out)
Couch & Rug – IKEA
Fireplace – Cushions – Bedlinen – and Curtains – IKEA
Lighting – Towels –

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