Coastal Style

rosslare mantelpiece detail

This week I am on holidays. By the sea. In Ireland. It’s raining but soft rain as we say here. Therapeutic (or so I try to convince myself). After some difficulty I finally got my mobile broadband sorted and am once again connected to the world. Let the blogging commence!

I did a few hours of writing and then treated myself to watching a DVD. It is one my daughter gave me for Christmas having bought it second hand at the the school bazaar. Julie and Julia. Clearly I have been talking about writing a blog for way too long. Now at least I could watch it without feeling that yet another year has gone by without getting my blog up and running. I decide a few things. I really like Julie. Julia seriously gets on my nerves. I started watching it feeling pretty chuffed with myself. That soon fizzles out as Julie becomes a super successful blogger (the third most popular in her field) She then starts fighting with her husband who tells her she is obsessing and a pain to live with. I start to question everything. Am I that person? I need to get some perspective. I head off for a long walk on the beach. (when I showed this to my famliy they said the blog has nothing to do with me being a pain…)

rosslare breakers

Ireland has a fantastic coastline with a vast quantity of beautiful beaches. These range from long expansive ones to hidden coves of intense beauty. As I walk on the beach it is impossible not to take inspiration from the surroundings. The varying shades of green and blue of the Irish sea against the golden colours of the sand and the greys and greens of the grasses on the dunes are picture postcard perfect, even with a cloudy sky as seen above. It is extremely calming and yet invigorating at the same time. This gets me thinking about coastal style when it comes to design. To me, it is an opportunity to do something a little different. Whilst acknowledging that external materials need to be robust, internally they can be organic and echo the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.

On my way back I snap some shots of local buildings. Many parts of Ireland have been infiltrated with an abundance of housing estates and developments in recent years. Some successful, some less so. However there is still inspiration to be taken from buildings that have stood the test of time and from more recent additions.

rosslare kellys house

The pale blue colour of the external walls seen in this house suits the seaside location and the external Victorian porch offers timeless elegance. The line of grasses are the perfect way to be guided to the front door after going through the wrought iron gate. The timber sash windows complete the picture.

rosslare sea spa

Here the entrance to the local hotel spa demonstrates natural materials of stone and buff coloured render, offset with the colour of the hedging and the beautiful long lasting agapanthus flowers. In the bar there is a motley collection of old memorabilia together with timber walls, tiled floor, painted ceiling beams and a back bar of glass and optics that create a stylish but still very modern and eclectic interior.

When it comes to summer holidays and summer houses I think we all want much the same thing. No maintenance, easy to clean but with no compromise on style or taste. A holiday house is also an opportunity, if desired, to do something different to a city house. When working on any project there are so many different aspects to be considered. There is the brief, the practicalities, the orientation to be satisfied. When creating interiors I always start with the mood or the feeling that I wish to create and work from there. In the project outlined below an extra room was added to a small chalet beside the sea to create a family room, connecting with the existing galley style kitchen.


Room during construction.

In this project the South facing external wall is completely glazed onto a deck area for having meals outdoors and allowing the view become part of the decor. The height of the room was accentuated by sloping the ceiling up into the roof space.


Room after construction.

Here you can see the finished room. The intention was to create a holiday atmosphere: comfortable and laid back, so the choice of materials was paramount. Taking inspiration from the hues and textures of the landscape, vertical timber panelling on the walls are painted in a washed out sea green, balanced with a neutral sand coloured timber floor (carpets are a complete no no unless you actually like sandy carpets). Plantation style timber shutters are perfect for allowing light in when required and closing it off when not. A glazed courtyard separates the room from the rest of the chalet allowing light and fresh air from both sides to flood into the room.


In the dining area open shelving allows lots of space for holiday stuff. The furniture is a mix of old deck chairs, white painted furniture and a farmhouse style chunky table. A bench against the wall allows for multiple children to squash in and be fed.

IMG_0854Once the overall space was decided and the materials chosen it was down to the details to create a memorable interior.

A string of seashells is a reminder of walks on the beach and the rainy day that went along with making it!


The hydrangas are in abundance in the local area during the summer months adding a wonderful dash of colour.


A piece of salvaged timber acts as a mantelpiece and a place to display the latest collection of shells, sea urchins or whatever is this weeks treasure. The colours in the artwork over the fireplace reflect the calmness of the location.


Old photos and maps are framed in black and white and contrast with colourful prints in simple frames seen below.

rosslare prints

rosslare michelin

An old tin map of Ireland seems to suit the slightly shabby interior look being created.

rosslare bedroom

The simple white look for the bedroom is clean and uncluttered except for the stock pile of books and magazines to be read when on holidays!

It goes without saying that the outdoor space is just as important as the indoor. Perfect for al fresco dining (see my previous post on this!). Below you can see the before and after that was created in this project.

rosslare june 2007 001

View towards extension during construction.

rosslare site 1

View towards extension after completion.

rosslare june 2007 019

View from extension during construction.

rosslare site 2

View from extension after completion.

In the garden timber decking contrasts with gravel which is interspersed with grasses, bamboos and ornamental rhubarb and agapnathus to create a low maintenance garden. Two seating areas are linked with a decked path: one for dining and one for relaxing.

I leave you today hopefully a little bit inspired, if only to get to your nearest coastline and to breathe in the air. By the way there are no rules to say that you can not create a cool beach style interior in the heart of a city either. Bathrooms are an obvious example of how a nautical style interior can fit in but elements of typical sea side interiors such as painted timber panelling can work in all sorts of rooms.

But that’s a story for another days post altogether…..

rosslare beach

For more coastal inspirations check out :

Book: Coastal Style by Sally Hayden and Alice Whately ISBN 978-1-84597-615-6

And if you can’t get to the beach you could always take out a couple of cans of paint and turn your garden shed into an all year round beach hut!

9 thoughts on “Coastal Style

    • Thanks Conor. I knew I shouldn’t have boasted about getting my wifi sorted. I no sooner had posted the above than the connection went a-wall. Sorted again now but for how long is anyones guess. On the plus side, there are lots more walks along the beach to be had, and the sun is shining!

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