An artist’s apartment by the sea
When Kirsty Wither and Robin Cameron decided that their next home should have both a sea view and outside space, they didn’t really think it would be within their grasp. But then this quirky Georgian-style apartment in Hove came onto the market and ticked all the boxes.
‘The round windows make it feel like you’re on a boat – you can just see the sea and sky,’ says Kirsty. ‘You can also watch the weather coming in and be inspired.’ Of course, inspiration is essential for the artist, whose paintings, like her appearance, are vibrant and colourful. ‘The apartment has great vistas everywhere – from front to back – and it’s not overlooked. Even though the balcony is tiny, we can both just about sit on it with Tiger and the barbecue.’
The round windows and French doors that lead to the balcony are in the main living and dining space. There wasn’t a fireplace in the room so the couple had a woodburner installed. Although they haven’t had to do any structural work to their home, they did install new central heating and damp-proofing – the latter a necessary ongoing expense for coastal properties.
In the kitchen, a distinctive cupola floods the apartment in light. It’s surrounded by plasterwork that had been picked out in red and black by the previous occupants, but is now white. The bespoke Andrew Collins kitchen originally included wall cupboards, but Kirsty and Robin felt they were too imposing. ‘When we took them out, the room felt twice the size,’ Kirsty says. ‘I chose open shelving because I like to have our belongings on show. Everything comes with a wee story, even if it means more dusting. We got a joiner to build the floating shelves with iron rods, but his drill came straight through the wall into the living room, which we’d just decorated,’ she laughs, adding that they found a new joiner to finish the job. ‘We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and any new artworks always end up in there.’
However, Kirsty’s favourite room is the main bathroom. ‘We’ve done most things on a shoestring,’ she explains. ‘The round bathroom sink was an Ebay find. It had come from France but was so pitted
that we had to have it re-enamelled. Both bathrooms originally had grey suites with grey and pink tiles. The pipework and pump for the shower was stuck through the wall of the spare bedroom and covered by a weird cupboard.’
Kirsty had been planning to paint a mural in the bathroom to complement the carrara marble, but then she saw the designs by Modern Love Studio. ‘It’s amazing how the digital age has enabled us to create designs bespoke to a room,’ she says. ‘I loved the pelican on their cushions and I liked the continuity of having the bird in the sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. We discussed the design with the company, as I didn’t want it to be too noisy with colour as it’s such a busy print. It had to be charming rather than in your face. It’s so clever the way that Sarah [Arnett, the illustrator] has incorporated hidden things into the design – such as the monkey – that you don’t see initially and nothing is repeated. The mural makes my day every time I go into the bathroom – I spend a lot of time brushing my teeth now!’
Decorating the main bedroom in Farrow & Ball’s Babouche – a bold yellow – was an easy decision for the couple. The Kate Jenkins’ knitted striped throw and Modern Love Studio pelican cushions, which are used on the bed, inspired them to use it in the room. Kirsty enthuses: ‘Yellow is my absolute favourite colour – it makes me happy. It’s uplifting, joyful, positive. I find it hard not to have a wee touch of it in my paintings’.
The dining and living spaces are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Stone Blue. ‘All the paintings look brilliant against it,’ Kirsty explains. ‘Having the gallery makes us more aware of colours. When we brought the Mary Fedden painting into the main living room, the colours just popped so beautifully, and then we saw the burnt orange sofa online. It said “buy me now”. We’re delighted with how it works, enabling us to bring other warm colours into the room.’
Kirsty says that apart from wanting to paint the kitchen cupboards in a charcoal shade, she’s satisfied with the way their apartment looks, for now. But she has big plans to move her work closer to home: ‘I’d love to build a studio on the roof. The neighbouring buildings have all been tastefully developed, so hopefully there’s a precedent. That’s my ambition.’
‘The mural makes my day every time I go into the bathroom
– I spend a lot of time brushing my teeth now!’