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A charming seaside cottage awash with pretty pastel hues

Jo Lavender and Rob Newland’s coastal cottage blends sorbet shades and vintage fabrics, for a home that’s cosy and chic

After visiting a pretty coastal town a few years ago, Jo Lavender and Rob Newland fell in love with the idea of a home by the sea. They’d stayed at a local hotel recently renovated by interior designer Michelle Kelly, and liked what they saw. Michelle’s taste for ice-cream colours, Liberty fabric and William Morris wallpaper was both unexpected and cosy – the perfect mix for their new home.

With Michelle’s help, the couple got to work. They converted the basement into a bedroom and playroom for the children, and redecorated two more bedrooms upstairs. Then, they opened up the living space to fit a kitchen-diner and living area, and squeezed a wet room into the space next to the pantry.

Embracing colour was crucial. The couple didn’t want anything “white-washed and shabby chic” and decided against the usual blue and white seaside stripes in favour of a gelato-inspired palette – pistachio green and sorbet pink paired with chocolatey wooden flooring. The floor in question is certainly a unique find. “We had originally planned to put parquet down,” says Michelle, “but I found an old theatre floor while I was looking at architectural salvage and it felt so right. It feels like it might always have been there.”

Michelle took her design cues from the location. The main bedroom upstairs, facing the beach, is furnished sparsely to make the most of the view. “There was a question over whether the colour [pink] was going to be too much, but actually it’s really serene and draws your attention out to the horizon. A bright orange or yellow wouldn’t work here, it needed to be calmer.”

With children running around and guests welcome, the design had to be durable and reflect how they wanted to feel in the house, as well as linking to its historic past. “This isn’t a place to be on your phone, it’s somewhere to play a game, cook and chat. That’s why I used things like William Morris patterns and vintage glassware and china – embracing elements from the past, but in a modern way.”

A closer look:


Dining room: Rob and Jo have invested in plenty of British mid-century furniture. Vintage G-Plan and Ercol carpentry was built to last and has a more relaxed style compared to the Danish equivalent.


Small but perfect: A slim, floor-to-ceiling cabinet tucked into an alcove makes great use of space and is used to store crockery.


Wet room: The shower room is simple but stylish. Smart black fittings cut through the wall-to-wall pink tiles, so that the small space isn’t overwhelming.


Rear bedroom: The House of Hackney wallpaper is inspired by original William Morris designs and works so well in the second bedroom. It’s bright and really busy but chic, and it transforms a small space. The couple have tied the room together by picking out a key colour from
the wallpaper and using it to paint the picture rail and skirting board.

Words by: Mark C O’Flaherty. Photography by: Mark C O’Flaherty, Georgie Rodgers

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