Inside A Beautifully Restored Period Property Near The Sea
Take a tour round a Georgian terrace in Deal that has been restored to its former glory.
Delighted to have eventually found a home within sight of the beach, interior designer and illustrator Russell Loughlan didn’t initially consider the less-than-desirable state of this pretty Grade II-listed property. But thanks to his talent – plus hard work and lots of time – he has designed considered spaces that reference their heritage and work beautifully for modern living. Russell lives here with his partner Carl, head of creative and product design for sustainable furniture brand Goldfinger, and their miniature dachshund Mr Big.
‘I’ve been bouncing around Deal for years now and know it inside out,’ explains Russell Loughlan, an interior designer whose Georgian terrace on the Kent coast has gained its own fan base thanks to his Instagram account @thehouseondolphinst. While the town has seen an influx of Londoners in recent years – drawn to its seafront promenade and growing numbers of independent shops, antiques stores and quaint pubs – Russell insists it still has a ‘salty old sea dog’ ruggedness about it.
So great is Deal’s allure for Russell, in fact, that this serial renovator has moved within the town no less than four times in the past 16 years. ‘I love a project, and my ultimate aim was to get that all-important sea view,’ he explains. ‘Four renovations later and here I am, seconds away from the beach – 15 steps, to be precise.’
When he found the house, Russell didn’t waste any time, managing to view it, put in an offer and have it accepted before it even hit auction. ‘I’m a pest with the local estate agents!’ he laughs. The reward for his persistence is now clear to see: nestled among the other higgledy-piggledy houses on Dolphin Street – arguably the prettiest street in town – his terraced home is the traditional seaside dream.
But it was far from plain sailing. ‘I was so excited by owning such a beauty that I hadn’t paid much attention to the state of the interior,’ admits Russell. ‘Think magnolia walls, lino flooring and no heating. The house had been altered in all kinds of ways long before it achieved its listed status and had lost its period features in the process, so there was a lot to do in terms of making it liveable.’
Practical tasks took priority, including the addition of a new roof and the installation of central heating, as well as re-flooring, installing panelling and sorting out the chimney. Unfortunately, the heavy lifting revealed plenty of drama, including woodworm, dry rot and broken rafters, which meant Russell couldn’t live in the property for a year while everything was sorted out. ‘Fortunately, friends let me crash on their sofas, so I was able to project-manage the best I could,’ he says.
Russell admits he outsourced everything and, while he plans to teach himself a few basic DIY skills this year, he currently doesn’t even own a drill. What he does have is vision. ‘The house was devoid of character apart from a small section of original panelling in the living room, so my main goal was to coax the building back to life,’ he explains. ‘Skilled carpenters helped me reinstate period features by recreating the wood panelling and replicating it on each floor and in the stairwells. I wanted the renovation to be sympathetic to the period of the property while bringing it up to date with furnishings, pattern and colour, even though we couldn’t stray too far due to its heritage status.’
And this is where Russell’s undeniable talent lies. Once the house was made sound, he channelled his creativity into devising a scheme he describes as ‘eclectic minimalism’, making bold but considered statements throughout, so spaces feel both contemporary and cosy. ‘I’ve always had a stripe fetish, and thought hand-painting a stripe effect in the main bedroom would be enough for me, but it ended up spreading into the hall, bathroom and a guest bedroom!’ he explains. ‘Suffice to say it wasn’t straightforward – there’s not a single level wall throughout the house, and after a few days of masking, I did start to question what I was doing! It was a labour of love and my neck is still recovering, but I’m so happy with the result, which is quite hypnotic but relaxing.’
The bedroom has plenty of natural light and Russell wanted the palette here to reflect the view of the sea from the bay window, so chose soothing greens and blues. The other rooms, meanwhile, are moodier and more minimalist, in keeping with the property’s smuggling history.
‘It’s a top-heavy house, and the change in light as you move between floors has definitely informed my decorating,’ he explains. ‘The ground floor is dark, so I’ve used a strong, Georgian-inspired palette; it’s probably the boldest I’ve been with colour, and gives the space real character. I decided not to have overhead lighting in most of the house, which is in line with its heritage and creates an intimate atmosphere.’ Right at the top, he converted one of the smaller rooms into his office and studio. ‘It’s somewhere I feel calm and creative,’ he says, ‘although the stairs provide something of a workout.’
When it comes to the finishing touches, Russell’s love of art and his background in fashion have been put to good use. ‘I tend to buy vintage, secondhand or antiques but I don’t want to live in a museum, so I mix old furniture with modern paintings and soft furnishings, and display pieces in unique ways to give rooms personality and depth,’ he says. ‘I used to express my love of colour, pattern and texture through my wardrobe, but as I get older, my dress sense has become more muted and my interiors bolder!’
The small courtyard is the only space that’s yet to be tackled and, while Russell has some inspiration in mind – ‘the plan is to create a Moroccan vibe’ – there’s no rush, as he has the ultimate outdoor space on his doorstep: ‘We’re so close to the beach that we end up using it for everything, whether it’s a cup of tea with a bacon sandwich in the morning or beers and a barbecue in the evening – weather permitting, of course, because Deal is famous for its chilly north-easterly breeze.’
With so much time and love spent on this seaside home, it’s hardly surprising that Russell isn’t planning on going anywhere soon. ‘But I do love a project,’ he laughs. ‘So who knows?’
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Victorian house renovation with a touch of luxuryDelighted to have eventually found a home within sight of the beach, interior designer and illustrator Russell Loughlan didn’t initially consider the less-than-desirable state of this pretty Grade II-listed property. But thanks to his talent – plus hard work and lots of time – he has designed considered spaces that reference their heritage and work beautifully for modern living. Russell lives here with his partner Carl, head of creative and product design for sustainable furniture brand Goldfinger, and their miniature dachshund Mr Big.Worktops cabinetsPendant lightsPanellingTilesSofaWall lightsShuttersWalls Artwork Walls Bedside table lampLampshadeQuiltBeddingStoolsLampsSide table, bedside tableceiling lightFloor wall tilesWalls Mirror lightingTilesTablechairsFollow House Beautiful on TikTok and Instagram.