‘We wanted to create a holiday home where our children could have regular adventures, in a kind of Famous Five way,’ says fashion stylist turned interior designer Michelle Kelly.
And this modern home, a detached Edwardian seafront house in a once sleepy English seaside town that is fast becoming a little bit of London-on-sea, has turned out to provide exactly that – for children and grown-ups alike.
Michelle and husband Ian, who works in music management, bought the detached Edwardian house with two other couples they met when their children were born nearly 10 years ago.
‘We all went on holiday together to Ibiza and talked about buying a holiday home there, but then we reconsidered: somewhere closer to home where we’re all based in east London, would mean we could go more often,’ says Michelle. Now the families share it, sometimes as a group of six adults and five children, or individually.
‘I love it when we’re all there and a typical Sunday revolves around running out of the house across the shingle for a bracing dip in the sea, followed by cooking up a giant roast together,’ says Michelle.
'We go on to stay up way past everyone’s bedtime – kids watching movies in the den, adults drinking wine by the fire – pure heaven!’
Since the gang bought the house, Michelle has transformed it (and the nearby hotel/pub, The Rose in Deal), showcasing her pretty, vintage-influenced style, mixing William Morris florals with a modern palette of punchy color combinations.
The house’s previously drab, vanilla interior has been totally transformed with mid-century and antique furniture and accessories, mainly foraged from local vintage shops.
Unusual colors come together to dramatic effect: think pink and orange, mustard and green, teal and black, along with lush Victoriana-inspired textiles used in reupholstered furniture and colorful cushions.
‘I sourced the old 70s modular sofa in the TV room to fit all the gang, and recovered it in a poppy-print velvet fabric,’ says Michelle.
‘Our favorite space right now is the living room,’ says Michelle. ‘It took some time to get it right as initially it felt like a waiting room and we simply didn’t use it. But I banished the TV to the adjoining den for the children and played around with furniture configurations to make the space more convivial.’
Pink walls are neutral enough to handle all the other beautiful colors. Now with two sofas facing each other, plus a big armchair it’s an inviting space that’s always sought out.
‘It’s where we all relax, sit and chat at the end of the day,’ says Michelle.
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‘This room overlooks the beach and I wanted to reflect that in the sunshine yellow table and sea blue and green shades on the walls and furniture,’ says Michelle.
Instead of replacing the kitchen cabinetry, Michelle updated it with paint and glorious green marble worktops.
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‘There are some great vintage shops around here whose wares have helped give the house its personality and already hold memories for us,’ says Michelle.
‘I wanted to create a restful room to escape to when there is a full house downstairs,’ says Michelle.
The enclosed balcony off the master bedroom, with views out to sea, is where Michelle does yoga in the mornings, or curls up with a book – ‘often The Great Gatsby.’
‘We take it in turns to stay in the main bedroom and whoever has it has to host cocktails parties on the balcony at sunset,’ says Michelle.
‘It feels like spring when you wake up in this room with its fresh green paint and pretty decorative bed,’ says Michelle.
‘Pink and green is my go-to color combination,’ says Michelle. ‘I think it’s the ultimate match – punch and fresh at the same time.’
When the families are not cooking up a storm, mornings often start with a coffee and a cinnamon bun and a mooch around the antique shops in town, followed by lunch at the aforementioned Rose. ‘Nuno Mendes of Chiltern Firehouse fame is overseeing the kitchen now so it’s hard to resist!’ says Michelle who has discovered that a bonus of having decorated the hotel is that several regular guests have engaged her to restyle their homes too.
Although the group still holiday in Ibiza together, Michelle didn’t want to turn the house into a ‘Balearic on the Kent coast’ style home. ‘A huge part of its charm is its old-fashioned British seaside vibe, which we would never want to relinquish,’ she says. As if to prove the point, there are actual Union Jacks, along with fishermen’s boats, sitting on the beach outside.
Photography and text/ Mark C. O'Flaherty.
Interior designer/ Michelle Kelly .
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Vivienne Ayers is a longstanding design journalist who has written for every homes and interiors magazine around, including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home, Country Homes and Interiors and Livingetc. She was the Homes Director of the Future Homes content hub, overseeing all the houses that made it into print and online at the future titles, and now focusses her attenntion on Homes and Gardens.
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