74-Year-Old Woman Wanted To Ditch The City Life, So She Builds Her Own Bohemian Island Cottage

Sally Henzel is a self-described “writer, artist, poet, photographer, designer, and builder.” She wanted a home away from the hustle and bustle of the city, so she decided to design and build a beach cottage in Jamaica.

Sitting along the southwest coast of Jamaica, Sally’s colorful cottage is surrounded by a wooden fence, just steps away from the crashing sea.

The exterior of the home features cedar shutters that can be folded back for breathtaking ocean views. Six teardrop-shaped windows made of plywood and plastic sheeting sit at the top of the home, letting the natural light flood in.

The 74-year-old woman aptly named her beachside cottage, that she built in 2007, ‘Bohemia.’

Sally’s parents were English travelers that met on the island nation of Jamaica back in 1937. Eventually, after deciding to stay, Jamaica became Sally’s birthplace. She’s lived a relaxed, bohemian lifestyle ever since. Her seaside home has become a sanctuary for Sally and her three dogs.

The living room’s folding doors open up to extraordinary views of Frenchman’s Bay.

The 30- by 30-foot living room has vaulted ceilings that are painted a light sky blue. After falling in love with floor cushions from a magazine, Sally tore out the page and brought it to a local craftsperson to recreate – the end results turn out beautiful.

The vibrant kitchen features exposed shelving and brightly painted pine cabinets.

The cabinets have tin doors that are made from roofing metal; each one has a freehand letter, made by punching holes with nails. “P is for pots and pans; G is for garbage,” she told Coastal Living as she laughs. “There’s one with B for brooms, but there aren’t any brooms in it!” Above the tiny stove, a shuttered window opens to a view of the sea.

Thanks to the warm Jamaican weather, Sally dines al fresco, breathing in the fresh salty sea air.

“I do a lot of my living and most of my entertaining downstairs,” says Sally. “We are in the driest part of the island, so when hard rains drench the floor, we’re grateful for it and just slosh around barefoot, dinner party and all.”

Decor and furnishings mostly came from secondhand stores or homemade crafts and projects.

Sally even has a dumbwaiter made from an old fishing reel. “A genius local guy built it. It goes from the kitchen straight into my bedroom—hopefully bearing a bottle of Champagne!”

The master bedroom’s white paneled walls let Sally’s vibrant decor really stand out.

Even though the decor is “busy,” the room’s simple furnishings help avoid the space feeling cluttered. Under the bright orange mosquito net, is Sally’s pine bed with a patterned bedspread that she bought a Brazilian market. In the lower right, you’ll see a painting done by her grandson.

The guest room is comprised of two built-in twin beds next to top-hinged shutters, letting the ocean breeze flow through the room.

“We have a wonderful upholstery man called Bleach, and out of his tiny workshop and his old sewing machine come the best pieces,” Sally says.

Sally’s friends ask if she gets any inspiration from Pinterest or other popular project-idea sites, she responded by saying, ‘Why would I do that? I have too many ideas of my own.”

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