Friday, July 9, 2010

soul food friday ~ a friend, her beach house and a sea change

This might seem like an odd 'soul food friday' post...seeing they're the ones where I usually get all philosophical on you! But it's kind of like that...because while these pictures are of my friend Susan's wonderful house at the beach, where Richard and I have just spent a few days... it's mostly about making changes. And generosity. I'll let Susan tell you her story...with just a little Q&A and a few editorial comments by moi...just can't help myself!

Why have your home at the coast when you have a full time job in Canberra? (roughly a two hour drive away over a particularly difficult mountain and therefore not a daily commute bloggy peeps!) 
I have long held the desire to return to live by the sea;  I was born by the sea and lived by it as a child.  Canberra provides me with the income to live my dream; it's a trade off.  The drive twice a week is usually fairly easy and I enjoy the scenery and sometimes I have the option to stop at one or two of the lovely country towns along the way. I am a glass half full person. I have the best of both worlds; a stimulating work, social and cultural environment in Canberra and the beauty of the environment and the gifts of small community living by the sea.

What does the name you've given your house signify to you? 
Toujours Libre - 'Always Free'.  I found the name in a beautiful book about French country houses.  Freedom is such an enormously wonderful thing;  freedom to think, freedom to be, freedom to express myself creatively, freedom to sit and watch the waves for hours and then all the great freedoms that living in a democracy brings, especially an Australian democracy (led by a strong woman PM) [K: go Julia]:) 

What gives you the most pleasure about Toujours Libre? 
Coming home at the end of the week to see its smiling face; my garden growing, a wave from the neighbours. I always, always drive by the beach to see the sand, rocks and the waves.
[That's Murphy the talking cat...much nicer and slightly less annoying than the vampire slayer...]

What was your inspiration for making the changes you made? 
I like a challenge!  I had been talking and talking about the idea of living at the coast and working in Canberra for a long long time.  My family and friends were a bit over hearing me talk about it [K: no really, we weren't] so I thought I had better do something about it.  The inspiration was getting clear about what I wanted and finding it and then selling my Canberra property for a good price - the $$ enabler.

Would you do anything differently? 
I'm still not sure about the blue house colour.  Unlike you my dear [K: who, me!!] I think I might be a bit afraid of colour, or rather too much colour.  I am a very peace loving person and love the effect of a neutral palette in a home. [K: I won't mention the raspberry colour sofa you once owned then?? And I love the's so surprising when you walk inside and see all the pale colours as a contrast]
This was what it looked liked before Susan moved in and worked her magic. Eek!
What's next? 
To enjoy the next summer.  I have more vegetable gardens to make and I want to put in a fitted wardrobe in the dressing room/study, with a whole floor to ceiling rack for shoes.  This is very funny as I live in rubber thongs [flip flops] almost all year round.  I have way too many shoes [K: I'm saying nothing!] although I have culled a lot.  I also want to renovate the laundry to make it more serviceable and neater.  I want to be able to use it as a butler's pantry when I have friends and family around - which, blessings, is often.

So, there you go. A woman who made a dream come true. And best of all...for those of us lucky enough to know this lovely person...she shares it with us. Lovingly and generously. Thank you my friend.
Richard earning his our keep!
And to you lovely people...have a wonderful weekend when you get there. I'm going to be plotting and planning for my very first four day work week...hooray and a happy dance!
all images by me except the dodgy before's claiming credit for those.
...and the artworks you see are all by local artists (I think). If you want to know any of the details send me a message and I'll find out for you.


  1. Wow, your friend has a lovely beach home. I think I know roughly where it would be and we love it down there too. What a great lifestyle! Thanks for sharing Kerry dear!

  2. Talk about the best of both worlds! Your friend sounds very content with her life and it's easy to see why.
    I spied the objects from your awesome photo yesterday, on the shelf;o)

  3. What a lovely place to go for a break! And how great for Susan to have pursued her dream and made it a reality. Have a great weekend. Mary

  4. What a lovely post! Living in Tas, no-one here understands the concept of commuting - 30 mins is a long drive to work (I'm on about 8mins) but I admire your friend for living her dream. She's done a great job at renovating/decorating. I love all the blue and white. Have a great weekend Kerry :)

  5. It's cool being able to live the dream. She has a nice home - I like the neutral palette too. xx

  6. How wonderful it is that Susan fulfilled her dream to live by the sea. I love the pictures of her home, very fresh and chic! I think I also have the best of two worlds living in Chicago and going to the lake every weekend. No argument there! Thanks so much for a fascinating interview!


  7. Her home is just gorgeous. So homely and comfortable, yet chic too.

  8. What a gorgeous beach house. It is my dream to live by the sea for a while as well. I presume your friend doesn't sleep on a park bench in Canberra, but has a flat she rents - a perfect balance to the lovely beach house.

  9. Hi Kerry, what a great lifestyle for your friend and her home is lovely. Very peaceful and the decor is gorgeous. Enjoy your weekend!

  10. What a fabulous tradeoff your friend has Kerry. How wonderful to come home to that beautiful house every weekend - gorgeous!! Hope you have a wonderful weekend ~ Tina xx

  11. Ooooo! Wish you guys could pop over to my site and give me advice on my blank canvas!.... I'm in need of lots of your tranquility please.


  12. Hi! Win a giveaway on my blog. Check it out here.

    Have a nice day!

  13. It is so important to live your dream! Then you won't regret a lot when you grow older. The house at the sea is absolutely lovely!! But you can live your dreams on a smaller scale, too. But you have to come to know your dreams first - so that you know where to go. Britta

  14. Thats so great about following your dreams and making it happen. She sounds lovely....found ed's comments amusing too :)

    re comment thank you so much.

  15. What a lovely home your friend has - so beautifully decorated and it has a welcoming vibe to it.

  16. What a lovely beach house, so worth the complicated drive. Your friend is an excellent decorator.

  17. what a great read that was, and love the house. what a huge change your friend made!!

    hope you have a great weekend, and look out four day week, here she comes!!


  18. Kerry what a great post! I was wanting to know a little more about how close Canberra was to the beach. I guess it's a bit like Toulouse. 1 1/2 hours from the mountains and 1.5/2hrs from the beach. Hmmm. Gorgeous house and the blue is fabulous.
    Toujours libre is my motto too ;-)
    Sorry I haven't been around, I've been trying to avoid my computer and keep outside in the sun!


  19. What a beautiful home your friend has by the sea. Such a great move!xx

  20. True bliss!
    Sounds like a happy life in a gorgeous home!
    Lovely interview.

    Another give-away over at my little blog corner. Pop in and enter and win something for yourself this time! :) xx

    x C

  21. Great post Kerry..sounds like a wonderful trip!
    I love the name of her house...Susan has a great eye,
    I can see why you are friends!!


  22. What a gorgeous home! I would gladly drive 2 hours if that is what awaited me! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  23. Hi Kerry

    We're off to the beach ourselves this morning. This post made me so excited in anticipation of today. Beautiful images. I wanna be there!!

    Great developments in your household. Very excited for you (and us).

    Best - Deb x

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