Worlds Best Homes

This British seaside country cottage is a masterclass in classic coastal style

An interior designer combined country cottage and coastal style when she decorated her own holiday home in Devon

country coastal cottage
(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

This coastal-cum-country cottage close to a pretty Devon cove in the South West of England has been transformed by interior designer Georgina Pugh, who wanted a weekend escape by the sea for herself and her husband.

The former coastguard's cottage is nestled in a hamlet on a stunningly beautiful stretch of coastline, just a five-minute stroll from a sandy beach. ‘We went one summer day’s day to view it and we loved it at first sight,‘ says Georgina. ‘We could see its potential and we put in an offer that afternoon. We planned to visit as many weekends as possible, but also to rent out the cottage as a holiday home.’

The house didn’t need any structural work, so Georgina was able to use her talent as an interior designer to decorate the cottage in record time. The house is filled with light, so she chose a pale, neutral palette to maximize that. 

‘We wanted it to feel like our holiday home but were mindful that we’d have guests there,’ says Georgina, ‘so we invested in high-quality curtains, bedlinen, towels and comfy beds, which are so important in making it feel like a home-from-home.'

'We love that the cottage's former life as a coastguard's home gives it so much history. It's a very special place to stay.'

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

'It was important to us that the cottage felt light, airy and had a coastal theme to emphasize the location, but also be effortlessly stylish to set it apart from the competition,' explains Georgina.

'When we come to the cottage ourselves at weekends we really want to relax and unwind, and the muted, soft colours and homely interiors achieve that.'

Exterior

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The couple felt it was important that the cottage was light, airy and had a coastal theme to emphasise the location, but they wanted it to be stylish too to set it apart from the competition. ‘It had to feel coastal but not too twee, and wanted it to be cosy and homely, with an eclectic twist,’ Georgina explains.

At the back of the house, a seating area and dining area enables alfresco entertaining with views of the surrounding countryside. 

To fit with the coastal theme, the exterior door is painted in a wonderful seaside blue that pops against the original grey stonework of the coastguard's cottage.

The paint is Oxford Blue by Dulux.

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Georgina has created a little outdoor dining area in the front yard, which is enclosed by walls that protect it from the sea breezes. A lifebuoy, find in an antiques store, provides a nautical touch.

'The house works well at all times of year,' says Georgina. Summer is great because of the beaches but it’s lovely in winter too with a log fire and the Aga. It’s fabulous for walks to the beach and to the pub. We make sure we come every month to enjoy the seasons here.

Sitting room

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Georgina’s experience as an interior designer proved invaluable when it came to decorating the sitting room.

‘This was quite a tricky space to furnish as it is long and narrow. We only viewed the property once before we bought it so I had to draw it up in elevation to make sure all the furniture and artwork would fit,’ she explains.

An L-shaped sofa from Ikea allows for plenty of seating space, with an armchair and floor cushion providing extra places to perch. The elegant ceiling light is from Coach House

'A lot of the furniture and accessories came from trade suppliers such as Coach House, through my previous job as an interior designer at Alexander James Interiors,' says Georgina. 'We used furniture with fabrics that stand the test of time and that are fairly neutral.’

See: Country living room ideas – rustic rooms that are cosy and chic

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Elegantly mismatched fabrics in shades of sea blue and gray provide an eclectic edge. 

The cushion fabrics are from Andrew Martin and Ashley Wilde. Tray, Coach House. Candleholder, The Salcombe Trading Company.

Dining room

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Painted furniture and stripped wooden floorboards inject a country feel. 'As this is a holiday home, we watched our budget. We picked up relatively inexpensive pieces and managed to save on pieces by upcycling and buying pieces from antique shops,' Georgina says. 'For instance, the dining table and chairs came from my old family home and were repainted and upcycled. 

Ceiling light, Coach House. Curtain fabric, Romo.

Kitchen

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

The couple were attracted to the original features of the cottage, as well as the Aga. 'We both had one in our homes when we were growing up,' says Georgina, 'so it felt like fate.'

'The most important thing is to feel that your holiday has begun as soon as you walk through the door,' Georgina says. 'The Aga is always on, so no matter what the weather, there's always a warm welcome to the cottage. I think it is so important that whether it is friends, family, guests or even ourselves staying, everyone feels relaxed.'

A wood-clad ceiling and maritime blue range cooker inject coastal style. Rather than replace the kitchen cabinets, the couple painted them and added new the handles to update look. 

Range cooker, Aga.

See: Country kitchen ideas – get the rustic look with our ultimate inspiration gallery

Stairway

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Georgina painted the staircase white to keep the look light and airy, choosing a tough floorpaint from Dulux for the job.

Vintage finds add character in the hallway. The coat hook was inherited from the previous owner. Georgina sourced the oars from Packhouse

  • Read: Staircase ideas – 25 inspirational features for treads, rails, materials and more

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Guest bedroom

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

A wrought-iron bed inherited from the family home creates a classic focal bed. 

'We invested in high-quality bed linen and towels because we wanted it to really feel like a home-from-home. And the kitchen is fully equipped with everything we could possibly need,' says Georgina.

'For me, window treatments are incredibly important and even thought it is a rental property, I wanted to invest in high-quality curtains with heavy thermal interlining to keep out winter draughts and also look the part.'

Main bedroom

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

Throughout the house, the original wooden floorboards are either varnished or painted for a fresh, coastal feel. It also means the floors are easy to sweep free of sand after a day on the beach.

In the main bedroom, a neutral palette keeps the look calm and serene. A traditional  butler tray from Packhouse is used as a bedside table.

Bathroom

country coastal cottage

(Image credit: Polly Eltes/Future)

A white scheme keeps the look fresh. Vanity unit, inherited from previous owners. Baskets, Ikea.