On the tip of Corn­wall’s Lizard Penin­sula, Sea Gar­den Cot­tage is a rest­ful blend of vin­tage styling and coastal colours

Country Living (UK) - - Contents - words by sue gilkes pho­to­graphs by mark bolton

On the tip of Corn­wall’s Lizard Penin­sula, Sea Gar­den Cot­tage blends vin­tage styling and sea­side shades

fter spend­ing a glo­ri­ous day on the south Cor­nish coast, what could be more ap­peal­ing than know­ing your jour­ney home is just a five-minute stroll across a wild-flower-fringed field to an invit­ing lit­tle cot­tage for two? Tucked away in the small fish­ing vil­lage of Gun­wal­loe on the Lizard Penin­sula, Sea Gar­den Cot­tage is just such a place. A mid-20th-cen­tury ad­di­tion to the 18th-cen­tury farm­worker’s house next door, the sin­gle-storey dwelling had been in Dan Tar­ling’s fam­ily for more than 30 years. When it fell va­cant a cou­ple of years ago, he and his wife Beth de­cided to take on its re­fur­bish­ment, as it was in need of up­dat­ing and a fresh look.

They set out to cre­ate a coastal re­treat that of­fered all the mod­ern com­forts while evok­ing the feel of an ear­lier era. The trans­for­ma­tion took around three months, with the cou­ple do­ing most of the work them­selves. “We make a good team,” Beth says. “I come up with dec­o­rat­ing and de­sign schemes, and Dan bal­ances this with a more prac­ti­cal, bud­get-con­scious ap­proach – he had the idea of skim­ming the walls in the kitchen and sit­ting room with au­then­tic lime plas­ter, which saved us strip­ping off the old wall­pa­per and re­dec­o­rat­ing.”

Beth also has a tal­ent for seek­ing out affordable fur­nish­ings. Thanks to her keen eye for a bar­gain and Dan’s ex­pert re­pur­pos­ing skills – he is a builder by trade – they were able to give the en­tire kitchen a stylish makeover for just £150. A 1950s sink unit from a car-boot sale was a star find, as its old-fash­ioned steel pro­file is con­ve­niently that bit nar­rower than mod­ern ver­sions, mak­ing it ideal for the com­pact gal­ley space. The slid­ing cab­i­net doors that sit be­low – orig­i­nally yel­low – were smartened up with Far­row & Ball’s Parma Gray, which was also used on the run of draw­ers and cup­boards – adapted from the

Nos­tal­gic prints of mid­cen­tury seascapes add a de­cid­edly nau­ti­cal nod

bot­tom half of a slim junk-shop dresser – on the op­po­site wall. Set off by the cream tones of the plas­ter, this cool muted blue brings a calm feel to the space and picks up on the shades of Beth’s col­lec­tion of Iris utility Woods Ware.

“I love china, par­tic­u­larly from the 1930s, 40s and 50s,” she says. This is ev­i­dent from the im­pres­sive ar­ray of blue and white ce­ram­ics lined up on the wooden shelves and work­tops made by Dan, where clas­sic striped TG Green Cor­nish­ware and vin­tage blue Bretby stor­age jars sit along­side retro Ma­son Cash can­is­ters in a bright and breezy dis­play.

Pale blue swal­lows swoop and soar across one wall pa­pered in a sub­tle de­sign by Laura Ash­ley, bring­ing play­ful de­tail to the space without over­whelm­ing it. A weath­ered toy yacht and vin­tage post­cards of the lo­cal coast­line add a de­cid­edly nau­ti­cal nod, but Beth has been wary of over­do­ing the coastal theme. “I’ve tried not to go too ‘boaty’, as it can look a bit clichéd,” she ex­plains.

The no­table ex­cep­tions to this are the nos­tal­gic prints of mid-cen­tury seascapes in sev­eral of the rooms. Beth has de­vot­edly tracked these down, of­ten in their orig­i­nal wooden frames, at boot fairs, flea mar­kets and on ebay. In the din­ing area, a large im­age of a sail­boat scud­ding across sun­lit waves hangs pride of place above a cir­cu­lar oak table res­cued from her mother’s gar­den and paired with junk-shop chairs. The mel­low tones of these sim­ple wooden pieces blend with the new boards laid by Dan, which, like the slate floors else­where, can be eas­ily swept clean of sand brought in on feet and boots.

Keen to make the most of the won­der­ful coastal light, the cou­ple in­stalled Velux win­dows and re­newed the old con­ser­va­tory that opens off the sit­ting room. Af­ter years of be­ing lashed by salt-laden winds, this was in se­ri­ous need of at­ten­tion, so Dan re­placed the tired plas­tic frame­work with a more aes­thetic wood and glass struc­ture. This re­lax­ing space is now filled with fo­liage and flow­ers – a lush mix of plants, in­clud­ing jas­mine, rose­mary

and even olive trees, and vin­tage botan­i­cal fab­rics. The soft mauves, blues and greens of a favourite 1950s flo­ral chintz used for a blind and cush­ion pro­vided in­spi­ra­tion for the rest of the fur­nish­ings – and for the gar­den be­yond. “A hebe, some aga­pan­thus and a bud­dleja that were al­ready there echoed the colours per­fectly, so I added va­ri­eties in sim­i­lar shades,” Beth ex­plains. Vi­brant corn­flow­ers, nepeta, Ver­bena bonar­ien­sis and ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ wall­flower now swell the stylish pal­ette, set off by sil­ver-leaved artemisia, sea holly and lamb’s ears.

A sense of the interior be­ing a con­tin­u­a­tion of the gar­den ex­tends be­yond the leafy con­ser­va­tory and into the snug sit­ting room, where so­fas piled with cush­ions in the same sooth­ing

pale greens and blues make it an invit­ing place to re­lax, and a woodburnin­g stove stands ready to take the chill off cooler evenings. “Most of the rooms can be seen from an­other one, so I’ve kept to just a few colours to cre­ate a feel­ing of flow be­tween them, which makes the space feel larger,” Beth ex­plains.

She chose Far­row & Ball’s rest­ful Pavil­ion Blue for the bed­room, where stripes and vin­tage flo­rals are mixed to charm­ing ef­fect. In the light-filled en­suite bath­room, the sea green of the wall tiles is echoed by shapely 1940s Dart­mouth Pot­tery vases, while orig­i­nal Bake­lite light switches sourced by Beth also add pleas­ing pe­riod de­tail through­out. And in al­most ev­ery room, the dis­tinc­tive grey cov­ers of her beloved Perse­phone Books re­as­sure guests they have a lit­er­ary treat in store should the weather turn.

With three lovely beaches nearby and an an­cient inn just min­utes away, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that this wel­com­ing lit­tle cot­tage is so pop­u­lar – with walk­ers on the coastal path, holidaymak­ers from fur­ther afield and lo­cals keen to en­joy a break from their daily rou­tine in such a de­light­ful set­ting.

To stay at Sea Gar­den Cot­tage (sleeps two) or Sea View Cot­tage next door (sleeps six; see CL April 2017), con­tact beth@gun­wal­

“I’ve kept to just a few colours to cre­ate a flow­ing feel­ing”

ABOVE AND RIGHT Far­row & Ball’s Parma Gray unites free­stand­ing vin­tage fit­tings in the kitchen, cre­at­ing a calmback­drop for a dis­play of blue and white china in­clud­ing Bretby stor­age jars and Iris Woods Ware cups and saucers

THIS PAGEAn old tin trunk makes an orig­i­nal cof­fee table in the liv­ing room. The blue hy­drangea print on the tea tray picks up on the vin­tage flo­ral fab­rics in the con­ser­va­tory; vin­tage lo­cal post­cards, old nau­ti­cal charts and a com­pass cre­ate a coastal col­lageOP­PO­SITE A mid-cen­tury seascape print by Mon­tague Dawson hangs in the din­ing room

THIS PAGE, FROM ABOVELEFT Fresh flow­ers brighten a junk-shop mir­ror and ch­est of draw­ers in the bed­room; old post­cards of the area and an eye-catch­ing vin­tage vase bring nos­tal­gic ap­peal; a mix of ton­ing fab­rics and coastal prints by Ver­non Ward OP­PO­SITE Dart­mouth Pot­tery picks up on the soft sea green of the Laura Ash­ley bath­room tiles

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