The fashion and textiles designer, Pearl Lowe, takes us behind the scenes of her seaside hideway in Rye – and also unveils the swimwear to make the most of it
It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to have a house by the sea. I’m not sure what it is about the call of the sea that I find so compelling, but it is as though I am magnetically drawn to it. The sound of the waves breaking onto a reef, the sight of the tides rebounding and receding, the smell of salt water… all of these experiences do wonders for my body and soul.
I have a deep affinity for water and ever since I moved away from London in 2005 I have always lived close to it – be that by a river or even just a stream – but as soothing as that is, I still found myself longing for the waves and have yearned to have a bolthole of my own on the coast.
It was fantasy of mine, shared by my husband Danny Goffey, and a subject that would inevitably resurface every summer when we took our four children – Daisy, Alfie, Frankie and Betty – to the sea for our annual getaway. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a house here?”, was the refrain as we sat on the beach and watched them play in the waves.
We both knew back then that this was just wishful thinking. But last year that little pipe dream became a reality when we took possession of an enchanting wooden house on the south coast of England. We had, finally, taken the plunge.
Back in the day, when we dreamt of our fantasy coastal home, I think we both imagined that it would be in warmer climes. As a result of our careers, Danny, as the drummer in the band Supergrass, and I, in my work as a designer, have been lucky enough to travel to some of the most exotic locations in the world and our family holidays were usually to some idyllic Mediterranean isle.
But when it came to eventually finding our house by the sea, we both knew that we wanted to be here in the British Isles. Maybe that’s a sign of getting older and, perhaps, wiser. To be honest, plane travel no longer holds that same allure it once did when I was footloose and fancy free. And these days I am more conscious of my carbon footprint, too. When Danny and I set out on this journey, we soon realized that we didn’t just want a house by the sea, we wanted it to be a home by the sea. It should be a place for family and friends to gather or where we could just be alone with our dogs.
We didn’t want a sterile villa that we would only visit in season. We wanted to use it all year round, come rain or shine, and most importantly of all, for me at least, it would be a place I could put my mark on because this was going to be our retreat, our home from home. And so it was that we ended up here in East Sussex, just a stone’s throw from one of the loveliest beaches I have ever seen.
I have always had quite a nostalgic love of the British coast, which I think is often overlooked in our quest to find the exotic. But for me, it makes my heart sing. Think of all the majestic Victorian and Edwardian hotels on the promenades of our coastal towns. The rows of beach huts, painted in vibrant sherbet and ice-cream hues that line our shores. Then there are fish and chip shops, the rickety shacks, the cafes, the piers, those wonderful old guesthouses.
All of this appeals to my aesthetic – a sense of faded glamour, a style that I would describe as a mix of the gloriously decadent yet well-lived in. It is elegant but whimsical, eclectic but well thought-out.
From the moment when I first set eyes on this house, I knew that I had found my dream property by the sea. I didn’t even need set foot inside it to know this was the one. There was just something so enchanting about it that made my heart skip. I looked toward Danny as we got out of the car and saw that he was smiling too. We’d finally found it.
Extract taken from Faded Glamour by the Sea by Pearl Lowe, published by Cico Books, photography Dave Watts
Great British tradition
Truly making the most of being by the sea, Pearl Lowe has launched a new swimwear collection inspired by all things vintage
What do you love about the area you live in?
It feels like it could be in New Orleans. There is a lot of wood everywhere. It doesn’t feel as though it’s in England.
How have you recently renovated your home?
When we first looked around the house, there was a pond and I thought it would be great to build a pool where the pond was situated, and clad around it. So it feels as though it has always been there. It was quite stressful though, as we had to take down a couple of lovely sheds, as they looked dreadful next to it.
What is your favourite part of the house?
I love our bedroom – on a clear day you can see the sea in the distance and we recently put in a Burlington roll top Bath, so it’s a tranquil room. The place where I relax.
What can you tell us about your SS22 swimwear collection?
I wanted to create a collection that felt very British. I love the old British 20s swimsuits and hats. I think they are so stylish. I love a swimsuit with a matching hat. I couldn’t find any to buy for myself, so I created my own collection.
Why have you always been inspired by the vintage look?
There is something about vintage that makes me feel so happy. The fact that if you wear a dress from the 20s, 30s or 40s. Someone has either made it or worn it and perhaps loved it and now you’re wearing it 70 years or more later! I also love the shapes, they are so flattering.
Who is the collection aimed at?
I would say a fun, curvy lady. Although, they look great on skinny ladies too.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just launched my first antique furniture and textile collection on my website, so I will be constantly uploading new pieces there. I have a collab with Coco & Wolf next month, a jewellery collab launching soon and my very own Wallpaper range. I also have a knitwear collection launching this autumn, which I am incredibly excited about.