By Karen Darlow published
Looking at the clapboard exteriors and interiors of this smart family home, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a holiday bolthole in the Hamptons. Its core palette of bleached driftwood and coastal tones, its long balcony with wide sea views, and relaxed living spaces all point to the easy-living vibe of an East Coast or New England home. This house, however, is in England's New Forest, overlooking the English Channel, and was inspired by some of the classic features of Hamptons and New England-style homes.
The inspiring transformation from a rundown holiday house to a stunning family home makes this coastal property one of the world's best homes.
Owner Georgina Copeland turned to her friend, interior designer Stephanie Dunning of Dunning & Everard for help in redesigning the home. ‘She’s helped me with the interior design of every house I’ve ever owned, but this is the one I hope I’ll be living in forever,’ says Georgina. ‘Stephanie is seriously good at what she does. I love her innate style, our tastes very much coincide, but she’s capable of adapting to whatever somebody wants.’
Moving from a smaller house in Hampshire, Georgina was attracted by the remarkable position of a rundown holiday house close to the village of Beaulieu in the New Forest. ‘We think the original house on the site was an estate worker’s cottage but it got knocked down and replaced in the sixties,’ says Georgina.
Inspired by the film Something’s Gotta Give, Stephanie and Georgina planned a renovation that would bring a completely new East Coast, Hamptons identity to the house. ‘The film was a great starting point,’ says Stephanie. ‘In such a maritime location, the clapboard feels appropriate.’
There is plenty of inspiration for great kitchen ideas in the reworked space. Dark wood bobbin chairs and black granite work surfaces anchor this space. The chimney breast hides an extractor fan and additional shelving nooks. While at the other end of the kitchen-diner, upholstered dining chairs and a window seat encourage relaxation.
‘We both thought the house was very ugly and badly laid out, with lots of poky rooms. We wanted to extend out but reduce the number of bedrooms to make them bigger and give them en suites,’ says Stephanie. Her role took on not only interior design, but architecture too, working with structural engineers. ‘It’s hugely important to get the flow of your house right to make it logical and simple. It might seem easy but it’s difficult to achieve,’ Stephanie says.
Embracing the ‘upside down’ format, she created a series of large rooms connected by doorways on the same side of the house to make an obvious progression through. ‘It felt right to put the main living areas on top because that’s where you get the fabulous views over the fields to the Isle of Wight,’ Stephanie observes.
A long wide balcony was added and the upstairs ceiling was removed in a bid to create more volume and show off the simple beauty of the vaulted timber roof. The pale shades of the main living areas strike a relaxed and breezy note and are full of inspiring living room ideas for those who want to create an authentic coastal living room look. Huge sofas and window seats invite guests to while away the hours watching the clouds from the sea drift past.
The north facing TV room takes on its own moody identity. Rich claret tones animate the muted palette of this cozy space.
A hallway, boot room, cloakroom and laundry with neat joinery were created downstairs. Good storage solutions and limestone tiles are good takeaways for those on the lookout for hallway ideas.
‘It’s a house created for laid-back and easy living. We have a big pool and in the summer the doors are flung open and the outside comes in,’ says Georgina. But winter brings a more dramatic experience. ‘It can be beautifully bleak. The house actually shakes when the gusts of wind hit it but as we’re on the south coast it’s fairly benign. With the fire in the big room and corner sofa it becomes more cozy when the weather is bad.’
The reconfigured house reduced the number of bedrooms, but enlarged them and created space for more en suites. In this large double bedroom, a combination of prints in varying gentle tones ensure that this scheme is both restful and interesting. The wallpaper is Camellia in Dove by Flora Roberts, Hamilton Weston. Antique mottled mirrors in the fitted wardrobes gently reflect light.
Artwork and the rich saturated green of the wool fabric headboard ensure the bed is a strong central focal point. And with such stylish bedrooms, and convivial living spaces, it's little wonder that the house has become a magnet for friends and family and Georgina is rarely without guests. ‘She’s created a great social scene with lots of dinners. It’s a fantastic party house,’ says Stephanie.
Words/ Juliet Benning
Photographs/ Polly Eltes
I'm the homes editor of Period Living magazine and an experienced writer on interiors and gardens. I've also moved house quite a few times – totting up 10 homes in 12 years during a particularly nomadic time in my life. I like to think that makes me quite the homes expert, or at least very experienced and with a clear idea of what I like and don't like in a home.
I love visiting and writing about old houses for Homes & Gardens' sister magazine Period Living and working with photographers to capture all kinds of historic properties. It's inspiring to talk to people about their traditional homes and to hear the stories behind their furnishing and decorating choices. And by the time I've finished an interview with a homeowner I've always got a handful of new ideas to try in my own house, as well as plenty of good stories for the magazine. It's the perfect work-life balance.
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