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In the coffee-table tome Love Shacks, author Susan Redman explores romantic hideaways around the world, from an A-frame in Pennsylvania to a sleek cabin in British Columbia. But the one that really caught our eye was a sister-owned pink beachside shack in Adelaide, South Australia. In this excerpt, Redman tells their story: 

It is rare to find an original 1950s Aussie beach shack for sale these days, especially on the beachfront. So when sisters Emma Read and Sarah Hall found one just over a two hours’ drive from their hometown, near Adelaide, South Australia, they were tickled pink.

The sisters inspected the west-facing house late in the afternoon, when the lemon sun was just setting into pastel pink and mauve hues on the sea’s far horizon, strengthening their romantic connection to the house. “Once we knew the shack had only one owner for most of its life and was painted pink in the 1950s, we were emotionally invested,” says Read.

The shack sits high on the beachfront with 360-degree views and is deceptively small, with only two bedrooms and one central living space, a front yard on the sand, and a backyard that abuts native scrub. It’s located in Chinaman Wells, a tiny coastal and fishing community on the Yorke Peninsula, which is dotted with original Australian beach shacks.

Fishermen say the striking pink house, now repainted in its original hue, serves as a landmark for local seafarers. The coastal foreshores of the Spencer Gulf out front are flat and tidal and ultimately connect to the Great Southern Ocean. “From the house you see and hear pelicans and black swans, as well as native birdlife,” says Hall. “Crabbing and fishing are traditional pastimes. When we’re here, we feel like we’re in another world; we can disconnect.”

The sisters named the shack Love & Mutiny, with good reason: “We both left our regular jobs within six months of the purchase and only continued with our vintage bespoke styling business, Read & Hall,” says Hall. “We felt like it was time to go out on a limb, so we staged a mutiny on our work priorities with the intention to only love what we do for a living. It’s created a very appropriate name!”

To update the house, the siblings combined resources, recruiting their two families to help on weekends. “Trades were scarce in this remote location, and we were on a budget, so we took our time through COVID-19 lockdowns and are proud of the result,” says Read.

“When it came to Love & Mutiny, it certainly wasn’t going to be a traditional-looking beach house with coastal decor and white walls,” says Hall. “For us, the house told another story, and so in updating and decorating it, we wanted to honor its vibrance and history.”

Aesthetically, the sisters drew inspiration from the Bloomsbury period and their mother’s interest in clairvoyance. “The house has a celestial and astrological vibe,” says Read. “Come nightfall, it’s like being untethered from life, watching the moon rise over the ocean, sitting by the firepit on the beach and stargazing. It connects you to a primitive part of yourself. The house is us from beginning to end, styled entirely from our imagination.”

To bring that delight to the interiors, they painted the walls in dusty pink and sundance yellow, colors that seem to accentuate the golden light that bathes the inside of the shack in the late afternoon. They added accents of 1950s-style wallpaper and striped and floral soft furnishings, installed etched mid-century porthole windows in the bathroom, lined the kitchen backsplash in tile decorated with tiny boats, hung original colorful prints on the walls, and set up a cocktail cabinet and vintage record player with a curated playlist. For outdoor pleasure, they festooned the large balcony in lights and set a firepit out front in the sand for impromptu sundowner parties.

“There’s nothing like seeing the sunrise from the daybed, under a blanket, drinking a hot cup of tea or, at the end of the day, watching the sun set into the sea from the balcony with a cocktail in hand,” says Hall.

The sisters both enjoy an afternoon nap, always waking up to the tidal beach view and enjoying the quietness and stillness often absent from their regular lives. They also share the experience by renting out the house.

They usually head to the shack with family or friends. Once there, they rarely want to leave. “Reading, listening to music, walking along the beach, yoga on the balcony, sitting by the wood fire, napping—it’s a place of quiet reflection because of the water and sky views from every window,” says Read.

“Sometimes we retreat here solo and don’t see a soul,” says Hall. “The quietness reinvigorates you. There is no television or Wi-Fi, the stars are abundant, and the geographical location is so unique. We have uninterrupted views of both the sunrise and sunset from the kitchen table—that’s so rare in this world.”

Love Shacks book cover
Love Shacks by Susan Redman, Amazon ($40)