‘We escaped to the coast’
Lin and Gary embraced a lifestyle change when they left a hectic city life behind for the artistic world of St Ives in Cornwall
Lin found the artistic retreat she craved in sleepy St Ives
Since I was a child, when I used to cry on the way home from our seaside holidays, I’ve always longed to live near the coast,’ says Lin. ‘So when my husband Gary and I decided to leave the rat race and the long commute to London from our home in Surrey behind, we chose Cornwall, which we both knew and loved.
I’m a freelance copywriter and my husband is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties. We both needed to continue working but, although my copywriting is very corporate, I had always joked that I wanted to write “the great novel”, but had never had the chance. Meanwhile Gary wanted to be able to devote more time to his artwork. He paints and sculpts using recycled materials, and has even been an artist in residence at a National Trust property near our old home.
St Ives is an amazing creative hub, and has its own Tate gallery. There’s also the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden as well as the Leach Pottery, which was founded in 1920, and we knew living here would inspire us.
After selling our Victorian cottage in Surrey, we initially rented a house near St Ives before looking for a place buy. We try to be environmentally friendly, so when we saw this house, which was part of an eco-build development, it really appealed.
There are solar panels for providing heating and hot water, triple glazing, a wood-pellet fire and a heat exchange system. This draws hot air around the house via vents in the ceiling, so we have no need for radiators. It was also in a lovely spot, with the sea just a short walk away, and there’s ample parking
space, which is a real bonus in a busy town like St Ives. The house is 10 years old and had been left empty for some time – fortunately, it didn’t need too much work. The walls were all white, which was fine, and the wood floors were lovely, but there were no curtain poles on any of the windows. Fortunately, the house isn’t overlooked so doesn’t actually need blinds or curtains. We weren’t keen on the nasty yellow lino on the bathroom floor, so we replaced it with a waterproof flooring specially designed for wet areas.
We joked that the kitchen must have been designed by someone who never cooked, as there weren’t worktops to speak of, the upper cupboards were too high for me to reach and there wasn’t a space for a fridge to fit.
The most difficult aspect of the house is the staircase, which is very narrow. When we ordered a fridge freezer, the
delivery man told us that he wouldn’t be able to squeeze it around the bend, so we had to send it back and find a smaller one that did fit. Luckily, our double bed and sofa bed came apart, so it was possible to take them up the stairs.
I took over the small third bedroom as my office space and, at first, Gary used the studio for his recycled pulped paper and reef rock pots. However, it was such messy work he found a more suitable place to work nearby and we decided to turn the ground floor into a suite for friends and guests, which we now promote through Airbnb.
We found an amazing handyman who fitted a small kitchen in the studio and we added sofas and a double bed. We had not planned on renting out the studio when we moved here, but it
‘PLANT BIG POTS WITH EVERGREEN SHRUBS SO YOU CAN HAVE ALL-YEAR-ROUND COLOUR’
has given us an extra income, and the Poldark effect means that we have a steady supply of visitors to this area.
We had to be a little inventive when dealing with the issues in the main kitchen. To give us more worksurface and cupboard space, we bought two cabinets with drawers and aluminium tops. They stand in the window, but inevitably the tops get covered with stuff. The new fridge freezer is freestanding, too, so as it can’t be hidden, we thought we might as well chose a showstopper and went for one in bright lime green.
After living in a rather small Victorian cottage, it was quite odd to find ourselves with a generous, open-plan living area. We brought the furniture from our previous home with us. At first, we had difficulty deciding on where to put it all,
artist in residence ‘Gary made these papier mache heads when we lived in Surrey – they make a really eye-catching display’
‘The curtain fabric is Dandelion Clocks by Sanderson from John Lewis. It’s perfect for these French doors as they lead out to the garden’ Garden fresh
idea to steal ‘For continuity, paint a door frame in the same colour as the exterior wall’ hole in one ‘Having a cat flap fitted in triple-glazed French doors was a necessary but expensive procedure’
bright idea ‘As the sofa is black I’ve chosen yellow accessories to add colour’
lime light ‘This is a dark corner, so I bought bright kitchenware that works well against the black tiling and worktop’
quick reminder ‘I used blackboard paint on the walls to make my own shopping list noticeboard’