I love a nautical theme, the calm colours and natural materials puts me in mind of holidays, the smell of the sea and fish&chips. Unfortunately for me I’m not sure the nautical theme would work particularly well in a 50s bungalow in a West Sussex market town, so when my friend recently moved to deepest Cornwall it was a great opportunity to try out some ideas.
It’s a traditional fisherman’s cottage overlooking the harbour and the bay, which means of course, it’s tiny. It has beautiful thick walls and a large stone fireplace, small windows at ankle height in the bedrooms and lots of different nooks and crannies.
What it does have instead of space though, is THE VIEW…
The view that means a small house like this commands a big price. Houses in this street are highly sought after and I can see why.
The house is east facing, meaning that early mornings in the bedrooms are a challenge to light sleepers like myself. When I stay there in summer I have to wear an eyeshade to keep the sun from waking me up. (I am not a morning person but always seem to be awake early, especially if the light wakes me up!) Within in a few hours the sun has moved around and the rooms get a little darker.
It’s a design challenge. How to make the rooms feel bright and go nautical (because of course why wouldn’t you, if you lived by the sea in Cornwall!) without overdoing doing it and making it all a bit too theme-y? The shops in the village sell a variety of nautical themed décor, some of which is pretty decent but most of it, to be honest, is really a touristy pile of tat. How then to give the seaside theme to a small home without going too far?
Add to that the more challenging aspect to my ideas for her home is that my friend believes that magnolia paint is a little too bright! I’ve known her for many years and trying to get her to decorate her home in more than a series of creams, off whites and beiges has been my life’s work!
The other challenge was one of budget. My friend was operating with limited budget and we needed to think about upcycling current furniture and finding inexpensive ways to update the house.
Due to budget, we decided to keep the artex ceiling and wood chip wall. Both were painted white and relatively inoffensive, and covered fairly well by furniture.
The first job for us was to give the whole room a fresh coat of white paint. In such a small room even us shorties could manage to roller the ceiling without standing on steps! Instantly the room was brighter and cleaner with the new paint. We also covered the skirting with fresh paint as much of it had yellowed with age and we painted the wood frame around the skylight.
Once the paint was dry we attacked the back wall with the fabulous “Beside the Seaside” beach hut wallpaper from Graham & Brown. The beauty of this paper was that it’s vinyl and this made it very simple to put up. This was only my second time hanging wallpaper and my friend had never done it before. And we had picked a room with wonky walls and sloping ceilings. Just what had we done?!
We started in the middle of the room and the paper went up very easily. We were matching the pattern very well in the top half of the wall but towards the bottom it started to sneak out of kilter by a millimetre or two. We couldn’t understand why until we realised, the beauty of an old home means very wonky walls . The thickness of the vinyl allowed us to remove and replace and redo the pattern match time and again. In the end we did pretty well in putting the huts together but there wasn’t an awful lot we could do about the bumps.
The next job was to move the wardrobe to the back wall and turned it 90 degrees to give more space. We covered the wardrobe doors in the same paper to make it almost invisible from the door and to give the illusion of space. It really works! It took some time to convince my friend to do this but she trusted me and we were both thrilled with the results.
Then we added new fresh bedding from Asda for about £30, a fabulous metal pendant fisherman style lampshade from The Range for around a tenner, and a nautical cushion on the bed that was already in the house, courtesy of John Lewis.
With some of the leftover paper we decided to brighten the loo by filling couple of frames. Certainly looks quirky and brightens up the smallest room no end!
Total for the makeover including paper, paint, bedding, light fitting – under £100. How wrong can you go with that?
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