Two beach shacks turned boutique holiday accommodation is a tale of two families enduring love affair with Emu Bay on Kangaroo Island. Lustful stays that embrace the beauty of an untamed coastal wilderness is where owners of Hamilton & Dune, Emily and Richard Young, holidayed with their families throughout their childhood and who later met along the beach that Dune House overlooks.
It’s the backdrop to two separate childhoods – reminiscent of times past, yet evolving with Emily and Richard as they transformed them into accommodation. Each unique in design and style, yet both have a homely feel that embraces the easy-going barefoot beachy vibe.
“Hamilton House was Richard’s family ‘shack’, which we bought after his mother Josie sadly passed away. Dune is the house we built on the site overlooking the spot where Richard and I first met,” explains Emily. “We adore both homes equally for different reasons. We have so much history here, and now, so do our girls. Having lived abroad for more than 20 years, and now interstate, home is always Emu Bay.”
THE LOOK & FEEL
Distinct in their look and feel, Hamilton & Dune have their own interpretation of raw yet refined materials. Hamilton House is about linen, leather, carpets and timber, while Dune House is about stone, timber, steel, glass and linen. They’re authentic and from the heart, built as homes to reflect Emily and Richard, their families and their lifestyle.
“I love working with many colours, but green is a definite theme. To me, Hamilton House’s colours are a perfect storm. Dune House is a lot calmer, but I’m planning to turn it up a notch,” says Emily.
In keeping with the home’s original framework, Emily and Richard have had to replace and rebuild the old-school beach shack style home. With its mid-century vibe and contemporary convenience, Hamilton House is all about layers, textures and colours – it’s where vintage furniture and collected carpets sit alongside some of Emily and Richard’s most precious art.
“Let’s just say; a sane person would not have held on to it. But there truly is something endearing about this house that you don’t find in contemporary architecture. It’s where my heart is,” says Emily. “It’s a home that reflects us, our personalities and our past. It has nothing to do with trying to be beachy or nautical, yet it’s the perfect beach shack.”
Pirelli flooring, timber wall panelling and reverse pegboard and strapping on the ceiling with off colours throughout is the canvas for the furnishing that has been collected and sourced from auctions in Europe, the US and Australia. Yet, it’s the dining room that really stands out for its custom Carlo Molino style brass dining pendant, Richard’s family’s farm dining table, and the mysterious Yeung Tong Lung tryptic on the walls.
“The 1940’s woven chaise lounge in the master bedroom is by Mexican’s Van Beuren, Grabe and Webb is rare and valuable, and should not really be left out in a rental beach house. But life is for living, and one group of artistic guests did a gorgeous sketch of it in the visitor’s book - so it is worth it for them alone!” says Emily.
Sitting on the site of the fibro shack that Emily’s family had built; Dune House was designed to have minimal impact and to blend within the landscape. A contemporary version of the three-room shack Emily’s family loved, the circular build has a low stone base and steel framed windows all around. Here, it’s about the views, every which way you turn.
“Dune House is all about the breathtaking sense of arrival as you ascend the stairs, the central communal sitting area and expansive outdoor terrace overlooking the best north-facing beach in the world. It is about family being together at Emu Bay, our idea of heaven,” says Emily.
Kept neutral to blend into the dunes, Dune House features a broad timber and stone deck that’s embedded into the sand and set amongst the trees. Custom made furnishing - the marble table, terrazzo table, beds, sofa, shelving and perforated steel cabinetry – add to the charm. Still, it is the leather kitchen benchtop that intrigues.
“We tried to make Dune House neutral, so it would disappear into the sand dunes, as its crowning glory is the unique setting. However, because I can’t help myself, we are adding layers and colours inside (watch this space) because we are anything but neutral people,” Emily says.
A holiday-goers dream, Kangaroo Island charms with its pristine beaches and untouched wilderness. A place where native bushland dips along the water’s edge and wildlife abounds. Seaside towns are peppered throughout, yet it’s Emu Bay on the Island’s north coast (10-kilometres from Kingscote), that has our attention.
“The best thing about the houses is the beach it overlooks. Emu Bay is always there, unchanged, never to be build up, constant over 50 years,” Emily says.
A quiet haven where there is little else to do but relax along the shores - and that’s what’s so endearing about it. Photogenic Emu Bay Beach, with its white sand and turquoise water, is a water wonderland – swimming, snorkelling, sailing and fishing are all favourite pastimes, and the jetty is a popular spot. When you want more, head into Kingscote which has everything you need.
EMILY & RICHARD’S FAVOURITE KANGAROO ISLAND HANGOUTS
Favourite place for breakfast/coffee
We’re about to receive our easy to use high-performance Breville recommended by our friends at Campos. But for service with a smile, zero clean up, perfectly cooked Kangaroo Island eggs, go to our wonderful neighbours at Emu Bay Lavender Farm. When out touring, try Cactus Cafe in Kingscote, or Millie Mae’s Pantry in Penneshaw.
Favourite place for lunch
I’m hoping the new, soon to open Gastronomo (formerly Enchanted Fig Tree) at Middle River is as good as it was before the fire shut it down. Scrumptious does a tasty pizza in a ramshackle garden - perfect for soaking up the KIS gin, Islander Estate Wine and KI Brewery beers all good to visit in the area. Of course, nothing beats a lightly pan-fried piece of freshly caught whiting eaten on our deck overlooking the Bay.
Favourite dinner spot
Hands down, either Hamilton House or Dune House with private chef Kate Sumner from Kangaroo Island Source. Or a BBQ/homecooked meal. Our houses have everything you need to get creative. Places to dine at night are limited on the Island, they close early, and the roads are dangerous with wildlife at dusk/dark.
Best place for drinks
Jamie and Julie at False Cape has tirelessly laboured over their cellar door and vineyards, and have created an oasis to sample their wines.
Go-to local store
I always love a snoop at Fleur and Fred’s art gallery in Kingscote, and the local artist co-op around the corner from the Post Office.
Best kept secret
Spinners and Weavers Workshop in Kingscote. The generous cream crocheted blanket an elderly woman made me from there makes you feel like you are wrapped in a cloud and sitting in heaven. Wrap yourself up, sip your KIS G&T on the terrace, and look at the stars. It’s special.
GET THE LOOK
“Save up, then take your thoughts to super talented Debra and Diana from Deem Studio (Adelaide). We’ve worked with them for many years in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and now we are all in Australia, and they are still trying to manage our ongoing ideas,” says Emily.
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