Design Project: a cool coastal Kentish cabin with a less-is-more approach

Inspiring home decor ideas from a very cool Fisherman's hut

(Image credit: Future)


A rebuilt, architecturally designed coastal cabin on the footprint of an old fisherman’s cottage and smokehouse in Dungeness, Kent. Completed in 2010, on the ground floor the house has a lobby, courtyard, living room, kitchen/dining room, two bathrooms, a WC and three bedrooms. Upstairs on the first floor is a mezzanine lounge area and fourth bedroom with en suite.

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Swiss-born philosopher and author Alain de Botton bought the beachside plot to build one of the first of his Living Architecture holiday rental projects in 2008. Mark Robinson became the company director in 2007 and project-managed
the build. He lives only 200 metres away.

This house is featured in Chrissie Rucker’s book For the Love of White

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(Image credit: Chris Everard)

Once inside, a bright, functional interior reveals itself, walls covered in white tongue-and-groove and featuring mesmerising views on all sides through massive picture windows. ‘One of our greatest challenges was how to make a holiday let inviting and comfortable. The Shingle House isn’t large, but it’s quite Tardis-like. From the outside, it looks small but once you’re inside you find all this space,’ Mark observes. ‘We wanted to place an emphasis on flexibility, with a mixture of communal areas, but we were also inspired by the scale of the rooms in the old fisherman’s cottage, making the bedrooms small to give guests a cocooning feel. It’s practical yet intimate.’ 

In the centre of the house is a double-height living room. Black accents break the whiteness of the cladding. The panels are more narrow than usual for a modern look. 

CH25 lounge chairs by Hans Wegner, Carl Hansen & Søn. Lean standing lights, Orsjo
at Holloways of Ludlow. Slab coffee table, Tom Dixon


(Image credit: Chris Everard)

Overlooking the main living area, the mezzanine level has its own picture window looking out towards the sea and is a dreamy corner in which to sit contemplatively.


(Image credit: Chris Everard)

The polished concrete worktops are a nod to the house’s pebble beach surroundings. 

Cabinetry, custom-made by NORD Architecture. Similar worktops, The Micro Cement Company. Tableware, David Mellor. Stool, The White Company

(Image credit: Chris Everard)


(Image credit: Chris Everard)

The dining room situated at one end of the ground floor. The view from the long but narrow picture window almost looks like a painting. 

Keramik dining table by Bruno Fattorini at MDF Italia. Basel chairs by Vitra at Heal’s. A110 pendant lights by Artek at The Conran Shop

(Image credit: Chris Everard)


(Image credit: Chris Everard)

The cladding and bed tucked under the eaves is reminiscent of being on board a boat. Soft grey linen has a calming quality. 

Bed designed by NORD Architecture. Bedding, The White Company

See also: Modern bedroom ideas – the best looks and how to style them


(Image credit: Chris Everard)

"You feel most at home when you’re inspired by design but not intimidated by it," says Mark. Setting the modernist fittings in the wall was a chic space-saving solution. The contemporary taps provide a striking contrast to the more traditional bath. 

Bathtub, Heritage Bathrooms. Wall-mounted taps, Vola

(Image credit: The White Company)

This house is featured in Chrissie Rucker’s book For the Love of White

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