ELK X THE SHIP INN
When you arrive at the remote village of Stanley in North Western Tasmania, it feels as though you have been transported back in time. Streets lined with perfectly preserved stone cottages dating back to the town’s early days are set against Stanley’s greatest attraction - the Nut, an immense volcanic mountain towering at 152 metres tall. Adding to this town’s charm is the Ship Inn. Built in 1894, this boutique accommodation has recently been restored to its former glory by owners Alastair and Kerry Houston, creating a whole new reason to visit this quaint seaside destination.
We spent time with the inspiring Kerry Houston to learn about the creative journey to revive this beautiful Guesthouse Inn.
You and your family were originally based in Hobart. What motivated you to make the move from the city to Stanley?
We stumbled across Stanley on a whistle-stop tour around Tasmania and were taken with its picturesque and rugged landscape and the stunning little village surrounded by beaches and the Nut. It reminded us of Scotland and Alastair’s family holiday home on the Isle of Skye. We kept coming back to Stanley for holidays, finally buying a small cottage and doing it up as our holiday shack. We expected to love the cottage and the lifestyle while on holiday but didn’t foresee the amazing sense of community that we felt here. We decided we wanted to be here full time in this slower-paced village and buying a guesthouse in need of a renovation made this happen.
The restoration of the Ship Inn Stanley was the result of working with local artisans and traders. Tell us about the process of reimagining the space to what it is today?
My husband Alastair was telling a friend about our purchase and she asked if we would be interested in her bringing her team on board to help. We found out that our friend, Georgie Raynor, had family who used to run the Ship Inn back in the 1800s! She brought Lynda Gardener and Belle Hemming on board to assist with the restyling as well as Claire Gilbert to assist with branding.
Between us all, we utilised local artists for the signage and artworks for the storyboards outside each suite, wordsmiths, local tradespeople and local landscape designers. It was about stripping the space back to being more authentic and then bringing back in design elements that are a mix of luxurious modern and historical. One of the best things we did through researching the incredible history of this area, was to rename it from “Bayview Guesthouse” back to “Ship Inn”, the name it bore for most of the 1800s. The village of Stanley is older than Melbourne!
The re-branding back to the Ship Inn, then drove the look and feel to emphasise the incredible history and sense of place that the Inn has. It was an exciting, tiring, exhilarating roller coaster of 12 months.
Tell us about what your guests can expect when they visit the Ship Inn Stanley and the surrounding area?
The Ship Inn Stanley greets guest with a stunning presence, as this large mustard coloured heritage building backs onto the giant basalt ‘Nut’ which towers over the village. The views of the Nut and out to sea are spectacular and it is a short stroll to beaches, cafes and restaurants. Guests can explore the wonders of the Tarkine forest, the edge of the world and the history of the area and come back to their luxurious suite at the Ship Inn to relax. We have just finished our beautiful gardens so there are now lawns, paths and seating areas for guests to enjoy the sweeping views. Each suite has a kitchenette and breakfast provisions are supplied.
The interiors of the Ship Inn Stanley so beautifully capture the rich history of the area, from the use of colours to the artworks and curiosities that decorate each room. What was your inspiration behind the renovation?
The inspiration was to respect the history of this 1840s Inn, and use our large personal collection of vintage and modern artworks throughout the building, to create a mix of vintage and luxurious modern for each suite. The colour palette was largely determined by the unique mustard exterior and creating suites which would work with it and be bold and relaxing. The earthy tones worked beautifully. Many of the artworks are from our collection, either family pieces or some savvy eBay and vintage finds. The stylists Lynda Gardener and Belle Hemming brought in curiosities and furniture – we just gave them a budget and told them to go for it. They had seen our building and heard our vision so we just trusted them to do it. A year of working together choosing paints, floor finishes, lighting, curtains etc helped build that trust! Would you believe they locked us out when they restyled and wouldn’t let us see until it was all done?
What we love about Tasmania, as well as the Ship Inn Stanley, is that there is such a great emphasis on local produce and makers. Why do you think there is such a great community around locally made in Tasmania?
Maybe it is because we are a relatively small island and so many people know each other? It creates a feeling of community and to be creative in Tasmania is to be respected as these creatives are enhancing our State and our reputation to others. It is a lovely drawcard for travellers to try local produce and purchase from local makers.
The Ship Inn and your family home which is located within the premises, feels like a sanctuary and a place of reprieve from the outside world. Tell us how you like to spend quality time at home with your family?
We have four girls ranging from 7 to 22, so when they are all home we like to cook and watch Netflix! We don’t spend much time in front of the TV so it's fun to snuggle up and get into a series or a movie.
We have the most amazing black Flacon induction oven, and our kitchen is all stone walls and ‘moody’ olive green cupboards, so we just love to cook in it. The views out to the ocean are stunning so it makes for a relaxing vibe.
Describe your perfect Sunday spent in Stanley?
Coffee and home-made muesli at home, sitting around the kitchen bench, then walk the dog (Floss our border collie) to the local shop for the papers. Leisurely read of papers then maybe out to one of the local cafes for lunch. If we are feeling energetic, we might walk up the Nut, but more likely along Godfrey’s beach to look for sea glass. Hopefully, some of our friends call a BBQ at the beach and we all congregate to cook, chat and the kids run wild.
What is your ELK outfit of choice for a chilly Tasmanian winter?
My favourites are, Oslo Jeans, Luxe Velvet Jacket in blue, Metti Belt in celery, Kamila Tee, Johna Necklace in orange, the Nicla Necklace in white and the Maya Boot.
Find out more about the Ship Inn Stanley here.