Throwing out the rule book and styling from the heart, Jim and Chloe's seaside retreat makes for a relaxing escape from their hectic work lives.
Written by Nicola Wilkes, Photographs by Hugh Burden
Jim and Chloe Read, who run the clock-making business Newgate, live here with their three children, Ruby, five, Buster, three, and six-month-old Lola.
A four-bedroom, three-storey seaside townhouse built in 1850. The couple bought the property in September 2006, then worked on it for six months and began using it as their holiday home and weekend retreat in May 2007.
A quiet stretch of beach along the west coast of Wales.
Running their own business producing stylish clocks, mirrors and picture frames, Jim and Chloe Read are no strangers to interior fashions as following hot trends is part of their everyday work. But when it comes to furnishing their own home, they aren’t afraid to throw out the rule book and style from the heart. ‘We knew we didn’t want to adopt the typical seaside colour scheme in this house but instead create a family-friendly coastal retreat that is full of fun and style,’ says Jim.
Having holidayed in the area, the couple were naturally drawn to this stretch of Welsh coast when they began their search for a weekend bolt-hole. So when friends in the area spotted the upcoming sale of the house, they snapped it up. ‘It’s built from sea pebbles and dates from 1850, and would have been among the first of a row of fisherman’s cottages. We love how it faces the ocean; the waves are only 20ft away at high tide,’ says Jim. Added to that it’s just an hours drive from the couple’s home, so it’s easy to see why the family spends most weekends here. Making the most of the enviable location, Jim and Chloe set about turning the dated and awkward layout of their new holiday home into a workable beach house to enjoy with their family and friends.
‘We wanted to keep things simple, with an element of fun, so we’ve decorated with beach-themed posters and signs’. ‘The kitchen was a third of its current size and an Aga took up most of the room, so we began by extending it,’ says Jim. As the house had no central heating, they installed an electric boiler to save on space. ‘It meant we didn’t have the problem of where to locate a vent or flu, which is not something you want to look at while sitting in a deckchair.’ Upstairs was also given a facelift; they opened up the master bedroom with a large window facing the sea and lost a first-floor bedroom to create room for a family bathroom.
Chloe and Jim painted over every wall and floorboard in the three-story house to create a light backdrop, then adorned it with treasures and fleamarket finds. ‘Our friends thought we were mad to paint everything white, but we knew what kind of look we wanted,’ says Jim. ‘The decoration was in a psychedelic hippy style when we moved in, with dark oranges, blues and pinks on the walls, so painting them white created a blank canvas to work with.’ But Chloe points out the pristine floors are far from the desired effect: ‘They look too new,’ she explains. ‘We encourage wear and tear because we’re after an aged look where the paint starts to thin in places, adding a bit of character.’
White-painted weatherboarding is where the seaside theme begins and ends and the couple’s pared-back style takes over. They have created a relaxing vibe, proving that beach-front living should be all about kicking back. To retain the home’s authentic charm, the original beach-pebble wall still acts as a sea-defence and a run of green oak decking creates a great outdoor area, which is perfect for entertaining. ‘We wanted to keep things simple with an element of fun,’ says Jim. ‘We have a few traditional accessories that were given to us but we’ve mainly gone for sea-themed movie posters and funfair signs.’
When asked what the weekend retreat means to them, Jim and Chloe can’t hide their enthusiasm for the coastal gem they’ve found. ‘We get here and switch into relax mode,’ says Jim. ‘Running a business with three small children means life is busy during the week and this house allows us to have great quality time as a family. We sometimes wish we could live here all year round.’