Beach shack chic


Got a place by the sea? Channel your inner deckhand and transform it with simple decorative touches, suggests ALANNA GALLAGHER

THE WASHED out simplicity of beach shack living is a look that is uncluttered by full-time living and devoid of excess. It is at its most beguiling in the look and feel of America’s New England aesthetic, with lots of wood panelling painted in soft colours as a framework for more individualist accessories.

The look starts from the floor-up. Beachside living is barefoot, with the feel of the sand between your toes and rough boards weathered underfoot. This can take a lifetime to happen naturally. Expedite matters by investing in a reclaimed teak wood floor, laid out as tiles from Mira Mira in Sandymount. The reclaimed teak is from India and is mounted onto a tough canvas backing, enabling the tiles to be laid more easily. The flooring comes with flecks of paint residue still on the boards. It’s a great way to rough up kitchen and living spaces.

Colours should look faded and washed out, says interior designer Mary Ryder. Ronseal Woodland Trust colours will give furniture a salty dog finish. They come in bluebell and cornflower blues, soft seagrass and wood sage greens and an off-white called elderflower. The brand also does a very durable floor paint. Its slate and pebblestone shades will help knit the overall look together. This paint works on wood, concrete and stone floors.

In addition to lots of wood panelling, Bronagh Skerrett, head designer at Minnie Peters, suggests installing big comfy sofas dressed in loose linen covers, natural look sisal rugs and mirrors that emulate big windows to refract as much light into the abode as possible.

Ropes and boating knots can add coastal character. Ropes wrapped around banisters and balustrading add texture and interest. It’s a look that California decorator Nicola Hollis has used with aplomb on simple black metal banisters. Ropes can also be wound round very basic-shaped table and floor lamps, a look you can steal from Nordic House’s hurricane lamp. Online shop The Beach Hut has a simple table lamp that has been given an easy to emulate rope-over. Rope doorstops are another way to weave the material into your interior.

You can go to town on kids’ bedrooms and playrooms. Sarah Thompkin, owner of a super-inspiring coastal home in South Co Dublin, had real wooden boats transformed into bunk beds complete with customised mattresses for her sons. Gingham checks and eiderdowns with sail boat patterns is a less extreme way of working the look. Grown-ups will plump for the mature luxe of Gant’s 300 thread count stripes, available at Arnotts.

Try fish-shaped coat hooks in the bathroom, boat wheel mirrors in the bedroom fish on stands in the hall and beach hut roller blinds in the kitchen. You can work the beach hut motif into curtains and cushions using Maritime Prints from Brian S Nolan. They cost €23 per yard. Nautical Living has tripod-legged floor lamps with black white and red white painted leg options that mimic the look of a lighthouse. A steady hand is all that is needed to replicate the look.

Buoy Oh Buoy is an outfit in Derrynane, Co Kerry that makes lighting fixtures from old fisherman’s buoys. They take the term authentic to a whole new level and cost from €150 to €350, plus delivery.

Also, navy striped cushions will lift the look of a dining table and will look equally smart on sun loungers. Ikea has some great designs that can be hauled indoors and out.

For further inspiration, see Coastal Style by Sally Hayden and Alice Whately, with photography by Paul Massey, recently reissued by Ryland Peters Small (€25)


1. Rope side lamp, €87.60 (£70); The Beach Hut, Tel: 0044- 1892 529686;

2. Hamptons lanterns, €11.95 and €19.95; Meadows and Byrne 3. Fiesta large salad shell bowl, €13.95; Meadows and Byrne, Dún Laoghaire only Tel: 021-4344 100

4. Wild Sea Artworks by Vincent Hyland, unframed, €175 incl postage; Tel: 087-277 2525,

5. Starfish bowls, €3.50 each at Meadows and Byrne; Tel: 021- 4344 100,

6. Coastal Collection Hawaii cushion, €37.50 (£30); DigitexHome; Tel: 0044-161 873 8891,

7. Barbecue in a bucket, €24.95; Carraig Donn,

8. Hallo cushion, €22 each; Ikea

9. Fish on a stand, €12 (£9.50); Who’s It For, Tel: 0044-1546 602445

10. Beach hut roller blind, €149-€186 (£119-£149); Tel: 0044- 161 873 8891

Main image: Helen Turkington Interiors

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