I had been longing to get my hands on a friend’s Southbourne beach hut and finally the weather and our schedules coincided and the makeover began! As a council-owned beach hut we were not able to redecorate walls or floor or make any structural changes (no loft conversion, then! ;-) but there is plenty you can do with accessories..
(The following article below was written by me and published in House Magazine recently).
Beach huts are the perfect space to gather the family, spend time with friends, or just to get away from it all reading a book to the sound of the waves. They are in high demand, and it can take many years on a waiting list (or a serious amount of money to buy one outright) to make it just that bit out of reach for most of us.
You can of course live the dream and hire them weekly or even daily from http://www.bournemouthbeachhuts.co.uk/ or rent one you can sleep in at Mudeford Spit (msbha.org.uk).
My friend Brian has a council-owned hut at Southbourne and definitely takes full advantage of it, spending a lot of time at the beach kitesurfing, socialising or relaxing with a brew on a summer’s morning.
This hut is in a wonderful position, nestled into the cliff at Southbourne, Bournemouth with a glorious view across the bay to Old Harry rocks to the west and the Needles to the east. The hut has great storage and every shelf, cubby and hook seems to be in use for food and cooking paraphernalia, books, chairs, towels – and the obligatory bucket and spades!
The brief: Freshen up the hut for summer without making any irreversible changes (ie. no painting, or new flooring etc). I added accessories that can fit in around the practical essentials to cosy up the space and make it more than just somewhere to cook and store things.
The three areas I focused on were:
For those lazy summer days that you never want to end, or when you’ve just watch the fireworks on the prom, it’s important to set the scene with cosy lighting – use hurricane lanterns (never a naked candle), fairy lights and battery-operated LED spotlights to throw light up into the corners and create a cosy, romantic ambience. Add some citronella candles in the lanterns to keep the mosquitoes at bay. I also added a sparkly beaded curtain to catch the light and also keep the bugs out.
Nothing says ‘British seaside’ better than strings of cheery bunting blowing in the breeze, so I hung a string of it on the outside of the hut and draped another on the back wall. This was local and handmade by Parkstone crafter Katherine Sheldon of Beach Huts and Bunting (she also makes gorgeous bags and greeting cards). To continue the seaside theme I added retro signs, vintage crockery and accessories made of shells including the stunning heart made entirely of white cockleshells.
Obviously you won’t fit a normal armchair or sofa in a beach hut, so it’s all about the deckchairs and patio set, but sometimes they can be a bit, well, uncomfortable. Throw in a bunch of cushions and throws to add some colour, adding a touch of cosiness for those chilly summer evenings. The great thing about simple cotton throws and cushions is that they can be removed at the end of the season to be stored over winter, avoiding the dreaded mildew.
Does your beach hut need sprucing up for the long hot summer to come? Check out the ‘where to buy’ section below, or contact Coral Interiors at www.coralinteriors.co.uk or 01202 798 837.
Where to buy:
Gisela Graham Beach Seaside Signs (Thomas & Lucia, Bargates, Christchurch, £9.99 each)
Duralex Marine Tumblers £12.95 for set of 4 (Thomas and Lucia)
Wooden Lighthouse (£25 John Lewis at Home, Redlands, Poole)
Beach Hut towel, (£18, John Lewis)
Silver beaded door curtain (£20.44, amazon.co.uk)
Bunting x2 (‘Beach Huts and Bunting’, Parkstone, Bournemouth)
Seat pads on table and chairs (stylist’s own) ‘Primavera’, by Waltons of Yorkshire, Thomas and Lucia (as before) £15.99 each
Hurricane Lamp with rope by Parlane, (Thomas and Lucia, Christchurch, as above) £13.95
Shoeless Joe cockleshell Heart (T& L £29.00)
Waltons of Yorkshire Dixie Stripe runner (T&L, £14.50
Hammered metal wine cooler (£24.99), with green glass bottle (just seen, £2.99) both TKMaxx
Butterfly 2-person hamper (£25, BHS, currently on sale)
Beach towels (BHS, in wicker basket £12.50 each, on sale price)
Small porthole lantern (Marks and Spencer) £25
3 metal pots (useful for storing bits and bobs, £2.99 each at H&M)
Various cushions (H&M from £3.99 covers only)
(Other items stylists own)