Life’s a beach: Cool, fresh seaside design

Once functional, now highly desirable, beach huts have a long history.

The twin Victorian passions for sea bathing and modesty boosted the popularity of bathing machines, which were little mobile horse drawn huts in which the shy bather could change into a swimming costume before stepping directly into the sea, avoiding the curious gazes of those on shore.

As the rules concerning the segregation of male and female bathers became more relaxed, striped changing tents began to appear on the beaches of the Edwardian era, quickly followed by more permanent wooden beach huts.

Allowed to fall into disrepair during the Second World War, beach huts regained their popularity in 1950s Britain and remain desirable today, with some particularly well-located examples fetching tens of thousands of pounds.

The secret of a beach hut’s appeal is simplicity, with furnishings kept to a minimum and lots of light and space.

To get the look, paint walls, paint or sand and varnish floorboards and use open shelving to give your home a similar airy feel. Use focal points such as chairs made from reclaimed driftwood or brightly-coloured rag rugs on the walls or floor.

Highlight the ocean motif with a single item, such as seashells in a blue glass bowl, but keep accessories to a minimum to avoid a fussy, cluttered look. Here’s our pick of what to use:

Paint: No 249 (Rose Theatre) from Mylands Paints

Mylands paint in Rose Theatre

This pinkish grey has warm overtones that will stop a bare room feeling too stark. Named after the site of the first Elizabethan theatre on the London Bankside, it’s available in a range of finishes. Prices start at £3.95 for a 100ml sample tin, from Mylands Paints.

Walls: driftwood heart by Giggling Hedgehogs

Show your home some love

This heart sculpture is hand made in Brighton from local beach-combed driftwood, and each piece is unique. Measuring 40cm by 35cm, it’s built onto an MDF frame and backed with hessian for durability. Hand crafted to order, prices start from £20 from Giggling Hedgehog.

Floors: blue Andina rug, Alhambra Home

This ‘jarapa’ Spanish rug would also look great as a wall hanging.

This Spanish ‘jarapa’ rug made is from soft recycled cotton, so it’s machine washable. In soft, sea-inspired blues and greens, it would be perfect for adding a seaside feel to a room. Available in various sizes, the 140cm by 200cm version costs £85 from Alhambra Home.

Seating: Henley garden bench, Mobius Living

Add a little rustic charm with this bench

Ideal for extra occasional seating, this handmade, reclaimed teak bench is designed for garden use, but would make an unusual addition to a ‘beach chic’ sitting room. With its open design, it won’t block light and it features a high cross back and armrests for comfort. Priced at £365, available from Mobius Living.

Cushions will dress and soften a wooden bench

These hamman towels made perfect wraps, sofa throws or even picnic blankets.

Accessorise your bench with this French linen cushion with a sackcloth weave, £34.95 from Coastal Home, while this hammam towel, made in India from organic cotton, would look great as a throw over the back. £24, available from Darwin’s Home.

Storage: Tiger shelves, LOAF

Tiger, tiger, storing bright

These ‘Tiger’ shelves, £225 from LOAF, would be a perfect addition to any beach hut. They’re ladder-style shelves, so made to lean against the wall, and the open design and bleached wood finish complement a minimalist decor.

By Sara Walker


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