On the beach


How one couple converted an old boathouse kiosk on Sydney’s northern fringe into a hotspot for locals and tourists. By Kerryn Ramsey

When Andrew and Pip Goldsmith were ready to transform a traditional bayside kiosk into a sophisticated cafe experience, they knew the exterior was key. Opening in 2008, they introduced a cluster of rustic stone pots full of tropical and succulent plants, cane lobster traps and a retro-inspired awning over an inviting double door. The coffee station has become a morning hotspot and guests can even settle in with a picnic rug.

The zone sums up The Boathouse Palm Beach’s feel—casual, beachy and original. But while the front entrance sets the scene, the outdoor deck overlooking Station Beach has become a popular hang-out, particularly for guests arriving on dinghies, yachts, kayaks and even seaplanes. The Goldsmiths introduced long rustic tables with stools, benches and director’s chairs, bespoke umbrellas and sweet festoon lighting.

“We’ve found that visitors head straight for the deck,” says Andrew, “but locals like sitting out the front where it’s a bit more tranquil, especially on busy weekends.”

A similar beach feel continues in the interior with one-off furniture and decorative touches—bespoke vases with sculptural floral arrangements and buoys converted into lights—making the room feel homely but stylish.

The secret to the quirky design? Andrew is a landscape designer and Pip is an interior designer.

“Although we started with a major refurbishment, it’s still evolving—a bit like doing a house renovation,” says Pip.

The Goldsmiths worked closely with Avalon-based sculptor and special effects designer Rory Unite (roryunite.com). In the early stages, he was commissioned to make one-off pieces and special furniture for The Boathouse, which also now feature in the couple’s other beachside venues: Moby Dicks Whale Beach, the Boathouse Shelly Beach and The Boathouse Balmoral Beach.

As guests kept commenting on the original pieces, Rory worked with The Boathouse Group to produce and manufacture the works in Java, Indonesia. The range of wooden tables, chairs, daybeds and pots that appear in all Boathouse venues are now available in Australia.

As The Boathouse Palm Beach expanded, the only difficulty was the limited space in the kitchen. It’s been refitted three times over the past seven years and the Goldsmiths hope to make further improvements.

To keep the cafe running smoothly, the cooks prep some of the Boathouse food at nearby Moby Dicks. “We make all the cakes, sauces and complicated things here,” explains Andrew. “We also keep the menu small here, while our other cafes have larger menus.”

Despite this, The Boathouse Palm Beach has become a popular wedding venue. “It’s a special place where people let their hair down,” says Andrew who has up to 200 guests at a cocktail-style event. “Since it’s a little isolated, they feel like they’re on holidays somewhere.”

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