Wish you had been right here: coastal Kent | Life and magnificence


For me, a sauna was at all times a should,” says Alex Bagner. We’re peering into what was as soon as the outside privy of a Victorian fisherman’s pub. “It’s a bit of a DIY job, but it works.” Bagner was born in Stockholm and has transposed the Swedish bathing ritual – an ice-cold dip adopted by a stint within the sauna – to Kingsdown on the coast of Kent. “We do it all year round. People think we’re mad, but it’s starting to catch on.”

Alex and her husband, Chris, purchased the Victory as a vacation dwelling eight years in the past. Chris’s great-grandfather owned the native Walmer brewery, and his mom grew up right here, so that they had a connection to the world and the Victory, as soon as owned by the brewery. The pub served its final pint within the 1950s, however for a few years it sat subsequent door to the Zetland Arms, which continues to be open. “In that pure Kent way, I guess they thought, the more the merrier,” says Bagner.

The home is on the finish of a personal street that runs parallel to Kingsdown seashore. A footpath spiked with blackberry bushes and wild fennel separates the row of fisherman’s cottages, bungalows and grand Edwardian homes from the shingle seashore. In entrance, a line of unassuming seashore huts faces the English Channel. “When we first started coming here it really was quite different,” Bagner recollects. “The Zetland Arms was deserted. On winter days, it felt like the end of the earth here. That was before High Speed 1 and Airbnb changed things quite dramatically.”

Beach house: a view into the cosy bedroom.

Beach home: a view into the cosy bed room. Photograph: Jo Bridges for the Observer

The couple, who now have 3 youngsters, lived with the home for 4 years, “fiddling around until it was really falling apart”. They found out how they wished to make use of it earlier than renovation work started. “We’re both into entertaining and hosting – not in a big showy way, but our house is always quite full. That’s how we’ve always lived.” The cottage now sleeps 11, in 4 bedrooms. (There’s a double bunk mattress on the bottom flooring, 2 doubles on the primary flooring and a household room within the attic.) Wood panelling, slender passageways and white floorboards imply it nonetheless retains “that cottagey sense”.

On the bottom flooring they prolonged out into what was the pub backyard, making a beneficiant kitchen/eating room that faces the seashore. What was the kitchen is now a cosy TV room with an enormous log burner for warming up damp beachgoers. Above the kitchen, linked to the principle bed room, is an aluminium-framed sunroom furnished with mismatched chairs and sofas. A battered midcentury leather-based couch and Ercol day mattress are strewn with sun-faded cushions and a pair of cocktail chairs recovered in Sanderson material faces the ocean. “The sun comes up right here, so this is where we sit with coffee and the papers,” says Bagner. “The rug is normally covered with Lego and furniture from the doll’s house.”

Mellow yellow: flowers in the garden and the outside of the house.

Mellow yellow: flowers within the backyard and the skin of the home. Photograph: Jo Bridges for the Observer

From the sunroom, Bagner factors out the boat her eight-year-old son has simply purchased. Last summer season he raised £200 by organising somewhat store on the footpath promoting painted stones, selfmade ice cream and lemonade to passers-by. “I’m not sure it’ll ever be seaworthy, but he takes himself off there to read,” says Bagner. “He wants to rename it Mayhem, but I’ve heard it’s bad luck to change the name.”

Upstairs, the hallway was reconfigured to accommodate an additional staircase resulting in the transformed attic. A double mattress matches snugly into the brand new dormer, which overlooks protected woodland, the top of Kingsdown seashore and past to the white cliffs of Dover. On the opposite aspect of the bannister, a partition wall separates the double mattress from the 2 singles reverse: an concept steered by a pal, Nicola Harding, of the inside design apply Harding and Read.

Harding additionally suggested on the color palette for the cottage, suggesting Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster for the panelled hallway, Blue Ground for the pocket doorways and stairway woodwork and Oval Room Blue for the main bedroom. “This was when choosing different colours for every room was still quite a new thing,” says Bagner. “At the time, I remember thinking, ‘Really? Not just white?’” But she held her nerve and the result’s a energetic inside that feels very private regardless of the home being occupied year-round by mini-breakers.

Room with a view: dining table and doors to the garden.

Room with a view: eating desk and doorways to the backyard. Photograph: Jo Bridges for the Observer

After a number of years visiting Kingsdown, the couple took inventory. “Deal [nearby] had become a huge part of our lives – more than we ever thought it would,” admits Bagner. “We both believed something was happening here and wanted to be part of that and, to some extent, spearhead it.” They had at all times talked about proudly owning a spot that may allow them to “creatively think of nice ways of giving people an experience they’d enjoy”. So 4 years in the past Chris gave up his job in London and “poured his energy” into the Rose, an eight-bedroom seaside inn on Deal High Street, which opened in May.

It’s a good-looking, three-storey constructing revived with wealthy colors, glowing velvets and regionally sourced classic furnishings. “It’s eclectic and fun and full of things we like,” says Bagner. Happily, it’s a mixture others are drawn to. Hen events, younger households, locals and “DFLs” (Down From Londoners) fill the bar and restaurant – “in that pure Kent way”.

The Victory is accessible to hire by way of airbnb.co.uk; therosedeal.com

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Nell Card from theguardian.com

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