Kooky, unique and oh-so-memorable, Margate Suites’ collaboration between local artists, interior designers and tradespeople has resulted in a vibrant collection of holiday apartments which provide the perfect place from which to explore this seaside town, alive with creativity
For some people, lockdown has offered a small chink of positivity. It has been a chance to recalibrate their business, providing an unexpected opportunity to adapt and expand creative ideas that might have been bubbling around for some time. For Margate restaurateurs Nadine and Simon Morriss, the past year of limited or no trading, has enabled the couple to not only expand their hospitality business, the Buoy & Oyster in Margate’s Old Town, but to also transform the top two floors of their Grade II listed property into a super stylish holiday let apartments. As the UK is set for yet another summer of staycations, the timing couldn’t be better.
Margate Suites is a bold re-imagination of what holiday let properties can be. “I call them immersive escapes by the sea,” says Nadine. “I wanted to create something completely different that would be non-seasonal, fun to stay in and very Instagram friendly!” Indeed one could say that it was Instagram that built the entire concept of Margate Suites. Nadine started the ball rolling, wanting to find a local team to help her develop her old flat that sits above her restaurant. Out of that vision, a brand new female collective of interior creatives has emerged. Studio Margate comprises interior designer Amy Exton (@amyexton) a set designer by trade who owns Margate Location House, Jess at Poh Maluna (@pohmaluna) who creates fantastical upholstery and carpenter extraordinaire Elouise at Lady Wood (@ladywood_)
The Courtyard Suite is the first project the group has worked on together. A Miami-meets-Art-Deco Hollywood-meets-1980s apartment, the space is a love story to colour, texture and shape. With only a very minimal budget, Amy has taken Nadine’s flat and turned it on its head. Walls, ceilings and floors have been colour matched in paint and vinyl to create a vibrancy that verges on the neon. Hand-dyed voile curtains only further enhance the Margate sunshine, saturating the colours so much that each room seems to pop and fizz. Furniture has been kept minimal and upcycled with hand-painted Facebook marketplace finds. Nadine has let the imagination of Amy and the Studio Margate team run riot and the effect is magnificent, daring and yes, 100% selfie ready!
Nadine explains how Amy wanted the colour to sing, even when standing in the apartment’s small hallway. The rooms seem to glow from the inside out, each of the pastels complementing the other, from the coral pinks and orange of the main bedroom to the aqua green and blue of the Mermaid Room to the pink and white candy stripes of the living area, to the blue, violet and pink sunset walls of the courtyard area. Pastels they may be, but nothing like you will have ever seen before. It feels as though you have slipped into the artwork of a classic 80s album cover.
Margate Suites offers truly sweet dreams by the sea. Paying homage to the nearby sandy beaches, sticks of rock, the 50s inspired theme park Dreamlands and Margate’s quirky British seaside aesthetic, the apartment will appeal to the thousands of us looking for an alternative staycation this summer. Who needs Ibiza when you’ve got an apartment with more Instagram backdrops than Amnesia?
It will be no surprise that a former member of Love Island has already been to the apartment for a photo shoot. Could it be the large upholstered two-step raised round bed, upholstered entirely in coral velvet, with its abstract semi-circular headboard that could make Jackie Collins blush? Might it be the sculpted shell-edged blue green alcove that leads you up two steps into an enclosed double cave-bed, worthy of an Indian Maharaja? Could it be the sunset ombre disco-effect courtyard or the candy pink stripes that scream ‘beach time fun’? It’s totally bonkers and yet it totally works.
The living and kitchen area play on the kitsch beach hut look. The 80s fusion of aqua, pink and bold highlights of bright orange, featured in the spray painted kitchen cabinet handles, tap and retro-styled toaster, kettle and microwave, sit perfectly against the clean white metro-tiled splash-back.
Nadine has let the imagination of Amy and the Studio Margate
team run riot and the effect is magnificent, daring and yes, 100% selfie ready!
A sense of the outdoors is also tangible in the outdoor rug, the upcycled rattan and metal garden style furniture, the kitsch dolphin coffee table and local artist Georgie Berryman’s (@georgie.berryman) statement life rings that are scattered throughout the apartment.
The success of the Courtyard Suite has given Nadine the impetus to continue her transformation of the building to the floor above. Again a local creative was called on to assist. Leanne Walsh (@yardgirlmargate) has taken the brief for the Emerald Suite and run with it. A completely different direction from the first floor apartment by Studio Margate, Leanne has provided yet another large dose of Margate’s quirky interior design magic. Just as Instagram friendly, the two bedroom apartment (one double, one twin) nods most definitely to the ‘more is more’ ethos of American artist Tony Duquette’s OTT house Dawnridge. Leopard print, palm print, Japanese and Chinese, 17th century all jostle for attention in Nadine’s Margate version of Duquette’s Beverly Hills original. Leanne has merged Moulin Rouge, chinoiserie, floral, Versace and animal print in what can only be described as an ode to the other great Lockdown story, Tiger King.
Unlike the actual open space of the Courtyard Suite below, the top-floor apartment recreates the outdoors with a fake living wall and ceiling packed with plants and coloured fairy lights that brings the apartment’s hallway to life. Nadine calls it her ‘magical secret garden’. The bedrooms are both essays in boudoir maximalism. Whereas the floor below is all about saturated sunshine and pastel brights, the Emerald Suite is an ode to sensuality with dark green and black painted walls and ceilings, a romantic Gypsy-caravan style antique lace four-poster bed, gold lurex privacy curtains, red chaise longue, rattan bedheads, floral wallpaper and fake flowers and lots and lots of leopard. For the Emerald Suite, it is all about pattern and lots of it. If you are looking for white minimal beach chic then this is definitely not for you (luckily Nadine has that look covered in her more traditional beach suites, Pearl and Samphire that overlook Margate Sands).
For those visitors thinking of booking a weekend getaway then Nadine has really thought of everything. As the apartments are part of the building which houses her seafood restaurant as well as Nadine and Simon’s latest venture Beach Buoys fish and chip shop, guests can simply click and collect their food and cocktails after a day on the beach, with no need to wait or queue! Complete staycation bliss. “When we decided to do this renovation project,” says Nadine (who also gave birth to her second child during the second lockdown), “I wanted it to be an entirely local team. I wanted it to be women-led and I wanted to help support Margate’s amazing creative talent. It’s been such a hard year for us all, especially the hospitality and creative sectors, I thought we could all help each other out. I never could have envisaged what the girls have managed to achieve. They have turned my flat into two very different, but equally amazing dream-like fantasies. I still walk around and have to pinch myself that I once called this home!”
- words: Antonia Methuen
- pictures: David Merewether
- styling: Holly Levett
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