This old coastguard’s cottage is gloriously free of all those corny seaside decor clichés thanks to interior architect Marta Nowicka’s sophisticated vision. If it’s not wall-to-wall tongue-and-groove it will be the pots of beach stones and assorted weather-beaten flotsam and jetsam by the front door—just below the storm lantern.

Marta created a new double bedroom in the eaves of the house, large and airy with light pouring through Velux windows, accessed by this ship-like ladder

Marta created a new double bedroom in the eaves of the house

Marta created a new double bedroom in the eaves of the house, large and airy with light pouring through Velux windows, accessed by this ship-like ladder

The large and airy room has light pouring through Velux windows

Fresh paint on the chimney breast in the westfacing single bedroom sets off the untreated walls on either side. The window looks out onto Rye Harbour. The curtain fabric is from Vintage Bird in Hastings

The window of the westfacing single bedroom looks out onto Rye Harbour. The curtain fabric is from Vintage Bird in Hastings

The room in the eaves is accessed by this ship-like ladder

The room in the eaves is accessed by this ship-like ladder

The house had been vandalised before Marta bought it, the bathroom smashed to pieces, so she had to put an entirely new one in. She panelled it with horizontal tongue and groove to make it feel warmer and put in a freestanding bath as that is what would have been there before

The house had been vandalised before Marta bought it, the bathroom smashed to pieces, so she had to put an entirely new one in. She panelled it with horizontal tongue and groove to make it feel warmer and put in a freestanding bath as that is what would have been there before

Fresh paint on the chimney breast in the westfacing single bedroom sets off the untreated walls on either side. The window looks out onto Rye Harbour. The curtain fabric is from Vintage Bird in Hastings

Fresh paint on the chimney breast in the single bedroom sets off the untreated walls on either side

The staircase from the ground floor up to the first floor. The rope handrail is a subtle nod to the maritime connection of the cottage

The staircase from the ground floor up to the first floor

Looking from the East facing bedroom onto the landing with the ladder steps going up to the attic bedroom

Looking from the east facing bedroom onto the landing with the ladder steps going up to the attic bedroom

In the East facing double bedroom, Marta stripped off the old wallpaper and liked the distressed plaster beneath it so much she decided to keep it. She has had the 1950s wicker chair for many years. The French painter’s ladder was found at Wish Barn Antiques in Rye

The French painter’s ladder was found at Wish Barn Antiques in Rye

In the East facing double bedroom, Marta stripped off the old wallpaper and liked the distressed plaster beneath it so much she decided to keep it. She has had the 1950s wicker chair for many years. The French painter’s ladder was found at Wish Barn Antiques in Rye

In the East facing double bedroom, Marta stripped off the old wallpaper and liked the distressed plaster beneath it so much she decided to keep it. She has had the 1950s wicker chair for many years

In the East facing double bedroom, Marta stripped off the old wallpaper and liked the distressed plaster beneath it so much she decided to keep it. She has had the 1950s wicker chair for many years. The French painter’s ladder was found at Wish Barn Antiques in Rye

Surprisingly, even on the day I visit — alluring skies and biting winds over the desolate landscape — the house is filled with light

The staircase from the ground floor up to the first floor. The rope handrail is a subtle nod to the maritime connection of the cottage

The rope handrail is a subtle nod to the maritime connection of the cottage

The dining table is medieval. It was given to Marta’s father, an architect by a client in lieu of fees. Marta deliberately exposed the brickwork around the fireplace to reveal the building’s fabric. The mirror is from McCully & Crane in Rye

The dining table is medieval. It was given to Marta’s father, an architect by a client in lieu of fees. Marta deliberately exposed the brickwork around the fireplace to reveal the building’s fabric. The mirror is from McCully & Crane in Rye

The clock in the sitting room was found in South Kensington on one of Marta’s father’s sites

The clock in the sitting room was found in South Kensington on one of Marta’s father’s sites

The salvaged shutters are French. Marta put them in to suggest a window where there isn’t one. She also wanted to have French things in the house to reflect Rye’s status as a Cinque Port

The salvaged shutters are French. Marta put them in to suggest a window where there isn’t one. She also wanted to have French things in the house to reflect Rye’s status as a Cinque Port

Marta left the patina of old paint on the main staircase, as part of the story of the house

Marta left the patina of old paint on the main staircase, as part of the story of the house

the kitchen has an industrial feel with stainless steel appliances. The drawer unit is from IKEA

The kitchen has an industrial feel with stainless steel appliances

the kitchen has an industrial feel with stainless steel appliances. The drawer unit is from IKEA

The drawer unit is from IKEA

the kitchen has an industrial feel with stainless steel appliances. The drawer unit is from IKEA

This quirky and authentic seaside cottage wears its heart on its sleeve, feeling as warm and welcoming (yes, even in January) as any loved and lived-in family hom

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Helen Bratby

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