Escaping suffocating city to comforting coastal retreat
British interior designer Katharine Pooley purchased a charming cottage in Croyde, the most coveted part of Devon, after having enjoyed a family holiday. She fell in love with the charming area’s laid-back vibe.
The building, situated a stone’s throw away from the beach, initially split into two properties, was returned to its original status and extended up to give the 19th-century construction a new lease of life.
“The property had good proportion, a welcoming, cozy feel, but it was very tired and in need of renovation. The location is a 10-minute walk to the most beautiful beach and the village is quaint with lots of thatched cottages along a stream. It also has several pubs and independent coffee shops,” Pooley said.
To maximize the property’s potential and create a beautiful family home, which could sleep and entertain up to 12 guests, Pooley gutted it, added an extra floor, then reconfigured inside opening it up and creating en-suite bathrooms. It has great flow now and improved ceiling heights.
“I was inspired by homes in the Hamptons (Long Island, New York) so the result is a blend of English cottage, true to its roots mixed with a cool nautical feel with elements of the Hamptons’ style,” she said. The property features an open-plan living-dining-kitchen area, a traditionally styled study, four bedrooms, including a master bedroom with sumptuous fabrics and a children’s bedroom. To maximize the property’s potential, the entire roof was replaced to improve ceiling heights on all floors, with under floor heating installed to ensure comfort during the winter months. The main living room has a feature fireplace with a wood burner.
“We have a large seating area that is centered on the fire. We wanted to be able to seat 12 comfortably. The living room has been opened up to the dining room and kitchen so it really is the heart of the home,” Pooley said.
The dining room has a banquette seat. It also has hidden storage and built in niches to create space and displays in clever ways. The dining table has an insert piece of stone so that hot dishes don’t harm the limed oak timber.
“The light over the table is one of my favorite pieces, it’s called Shoal by Scabetti and it’s made up of English fine bone china fish,” Pooley said.
Wow features also include the kitchen by Humphrey Munson, the artwork, most of which was specially commissioned, and bespoke upholstery throughout.
The master bedroom has been designed to be a calm relaxing space. It has layers of soft, natural but luxurious textures.
“I added tongue and groove paneling, most of the furniture is bespoke or from antique fairs but the chest of drawers is from Pottery Barn just with the handles changed and it fits in perfectly,” she said.
In true Pooley style, home accessories and furniture were sourced on her trips abroad.
“There are a few antique fairs I visit. If I find the right piece a whole room can develop from that. I do love antique pieces as they have a story and bring charm to a space. I did also have a lot of the furniture pieces made so they are exactly what I had in mind,” she said. “There are also some pieces that are off the shelf but even those we do tend to customize them in some way, like reupholstering it, painting it or changing the handles.”
Each room has its own color palette but they all blend together nicely. The base is of taupes and creams with accents in blue, grey, teal, blush and terracotta. The courtyard furniture uses the complimentary colors of blue and orange, which helps bring the space alive.
“The garden is a highlight of this property as it has had a dramatic makeover. It was much smaller before and very unloved. It is now such an inviting, tranquil space where we often have dinner during the long summer evenings. We have a pizza oven which is heaven,” Pooley said.
The secret to make a welcoming home is to strike the fine balance by combining tradition with contemporary aesthetics, mixing simple lines with soft touches.
“I had a photographer take photos of the nearby beach in different weather conditions and those are framed in the entrance hall and I commissioned a number of nautical scene canvases with colors that compliment the rooms,” she said.
Pooley has a beautiful whale sculpture which she bought in Sag Harbour in the Hamptons. Family photos are also showcased.
“To achieve a warm atmosphere at home, soft textures, comfortable furniture, under floor heating and warm white lighting are necessary,” Polley added.
“With a family based in London, we come to enjoy this house every month as we just love it and it is proper family time without distraction. Although I do have a study here, I try not to sit and work when we are there so it’s turned into a multifunction room with a TV and a library of books.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What’s the best thing about living in Croyde, Devon?
A: It has a lovely balance of being relaxing and peaceful and lively at other times. The local community is just so friendly and welcoming I feel like I have gone back in time.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Relaxing family time.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: Kick off our shoes, light the fire and get out some board games.
Q: How do you unwind?
A: Go to the beach with my boys, no matter what the weather.
Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?
A: On the L-shaped sofa in the living room, it’s big enough for everyone.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: I can see the stream and a lane of thatched cottages.
Q: What’s your favorite object at home?
A: I had an artwork commissioned in the master bedroom which is of my beloved late dog Piglet. It is by Peter Clark and is a collage of maps as he was a very well-travelled dog.
Q: Where do you source furniture?
A: I do have my go to suppliers but I literally travelled all over the world last year and was always on the lookout, so now when I look at some of the pieces I’m reminded of all the lovely places I have been.