Nestled in the sleepy fishing village of Patonga is this stunningly renovated holiday cottage. Imaginatively restored and furnished by the creators of one of Australia’s leading design brands, this home is casually chic in a very unique, and very Australian, way.
Dickebusch is a two bedroom holiday home, with separate cottage, in Patonga, purchased by Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky, the couple behind the furniture and homewares company Koskela, some years ago. They restored and renovated both the house and cottage, which now feature furniture, lighting and objects sourced from Koskela’s showroom, as well as other beautifully restored, collected pieces.
Russel and Sasha were instantly enchanted with Patonga. A friend had a home there but at first the couple were dubious … No surf beach? A creek? One visit to the secluded fishing village changed dubious to delighted. Within a short eight weeks they had purchased Dickebusch.
Dickebusch was built between 1929 and 1930 by Annie and Fred Flowers as a holiday home. With no road access for building materials, it was pre-fabricated, barged to Patonga wharf in pieces and then erected. During the process of renovating, Russel and Sasha discovered the name “Flowers” written in pencil on the reverse side of many of the original weatherboards.
The Flowers named the house “Dickebusch” in memory of their son Fred, who died in World War I, while serving as a medic. Fred survived Gallipoli, but was sadly killed in battle at Dickebusch, Belgium, and buried in the Australian War Cemetery there. This history, including the house name, could have been lost if not for a fortuitous meeting.
Russel and Sasha were busy renovating the house when they noticed a car out front. Enquiring whether the occupants needed any assistance, they found that the elderly passenger was Jean Elliot, the Flowers’ granddaughter, sharing stories of the house with her son. Jean later sent a letter to the couple with her memories of Dickebusch and Patonga, a precious thing for the new custodians of this little cottage.
The house is positioned between the creek and the beach foreshore of Brisk Bay, happily still sitting between similar, original holiday cottages of the same era. These early kit homes were usually bought as separate modules, on account from stores like Grace Bros.
Though the outside of the cottage would still be familiar to Jean today, the interior has been almost completely gutted and rebuilt. When Russel and Sasha first viewed the cottage it was in a very sad state. The interior was divided into a warren of small rooms, almost void of a kitchen and bathroom, and most of the original floorboards had been replaced with chipboard panelling.
Despite its dismal appearance it did give the couple the freedom to design their dream holiday home.
The concept was really about creating a space that was perfect for unwinding and unplugging. A house that was very unlike the homes we tend to live in, with an organic warmth and a low tech approach. Dickebusch puts you in a holiday state of mind with its laid back, practical yet stylish comfort.
The open-plan interior links to the outdoor deck through bi-fold doors. The living area features a gas log fire, a large sofa, perfect for post-lunch napping, and plenty of banquette seating, while a long, timber communal dining table sits at the heart of the room. The kitchen consists of a simple, marble bench and open shelving, emphasising the soaring ceiling space. The kitchen is a cook’s delight but also a trove of vintage treasures, including the beautifully mellow buffet which was originally a shop counter.
There are two bedrooms at the front of the main house, and a beautiful timber clad bathroom to the rear. The separate cottage in the garden, originally the garage, sleeps another four in a roomy, communal space.
There’s a lot of timber in this home but at no stage does it feel overwhelming. It’s offset by touches of warm white, sisal flooring and beautiful furnishings and homewares that keep to muted, organic tones. The entire home has a delightfully warm glow and womb-like comfort.
All the furniture has been chosen with holiday comfort in mind. The beds are dressed in luscious linen, sofas and chairs are deep and perfect for curling up with a book and there’s always a handy surface for your coffee or glass of wine.
Outside there’s more comfort with a large deck and beautiful gardens that include fragrant frangipanis, lemon trees and vegetable beds. The deck features a barbecue area with more banquette seating and a large table for lingering lunches.
When staying with her grandparents, once she was old enough, Jean Elliott was allowed to go to the dances at Patonga’s Progress Hall. It was there that she met her husband Ted and together they had two sons. Jean Elliot ends her letter to Russel and Sasha by saying: “I hope that you…enjoy the same happiness that I did, which began in Dickebusch.”
The couple and their two sons have years of happy memories created at Dickebusch, and now new owners, Olivia and Marcus Smith are doing the same. Although named to commemorate a sad loss to Annie and Fred Flowers, this has been a home filled with generations of happiness and togetherness, and it has permeated the walls.
The current owners have continued to make Dickebusch available for holiday rental. It’s suitable for families or groups of friends and sleeps up to eight guests. You can find Dickebusch listed on stayz.com and Airbnb.