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Pearl Lowe writes about why she fell in love with her Sussex bolthole

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And discusses how we can all add a unique design touch ourselves

Craftsmanship can often be found in vintage clothing, furniture, linens and lace. But for me, it’s also about backstory and my house in Sussex, with its romantic history, offered that to me in spades.

It was never our intention to make a permanent move to the coast. For the past six years, our family home has been a beautiful Georgian property in Frome, Somerset, a county that we love. I very much doubt that we will leave that yellow sandstone house until we really have to, perhaps when the stairs get to be too much for us. The only downside of our life there is that it is also where my husband Danny and I both have our work.

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I have my design rooms where I work on my fashion and interiors collections and Danny has his studio, where he writes and records his music. What we wanted was a place we could escape to when we needed a break from the daily rigmarole of our lives.

That said, I was always adamant this should be a home from home. I didn’t want it to have the soulless feeling of a holiday rental or a villa abroad. I wanted it to be full of character, our things and our combined aesthetic. While the two properties are so different in terms of architectural style, space and location, I feel that somehow I have achieved that. This is my take on faded glamour, now by the sea.

In terms of the structure of the property, there was, thankfully, little to do. Following the passing of the artist and her husband, the next owners had added to the original bungalow an upper storey, clad in clapboard. This allows for four bedrooms within the house, plus a charming, self-contained cabin. Complete with a kitchen, living area and bathroom, this can accommodate two couples. There is enough room for our brood, as well as friends, without us all being on top of one another. In my mind, this is the key to a perfect holiday.

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The interior of the property was going to need a lot of work, as we were soon to discover, much to our dismay. Having left London more than 15 years ago on our quest to find the perfect rural retreat, we were serial movers until we at last found our house in Somerset. I’ve almost lost count of all the houses we have lived in over the years.

When it comes to interior design, I’ve always believed that you must be sympathetic to the house and its location before you go wild. Here, I wanted to preserve the simplicity and serenity of the house.

I first got into vintage when we bought our first house in Camden. I loved finding antique bargains at both Camden and Portobello markets. It was so wonderful to watch the house evolve. Especially as we didn’t really know how to decorate back then. We just threw it all together and hoped it looked alright.

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I love Art Deco mirrored furniture. I bought an Art Deco mirrored dressing table and a mirrored chest of drawers and then I was hooked. I still have all the mirrored pieces I collected from back then. It’s funny, as they are the things I just cannot part with, and they are getting so hard to find. 

I love sourcing at Flea Markets, as there is so much choice and the prices are usually so much cheaper than shops or online. If you buy vintage, you’ll have a piece of history that will be unique to you – and it’s good for the planet.

I have plenty of favourite purchases from over the years. A beautiful blue velvet sofa I purchased from The French House. A Butterfly Mirror I bought at Shepton Flea Market. A fringe lamp from a Paris flea market and my French armoire that an antique dealer was selling on Instagram for just £200.

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It was very important for me to create a vintage space in my Sussex home. I wanted the Beach House to have a relaxed, bohemian feel to it. I didn’t want it to be a generic seaside home with blue and white ticking and anchors on the walls.

I added a few French Venetian mirrors, some taxidermy, a little bit of vintage lace and lots of antique oil paintings. I found the most beautiful antique ship in a glass box, which cost a small fortune, but it brings me so much joy when I look at it.

Whenever I go down to the east coast, I head straight to Rye, Hastings, and St Leonards. My favourite shops are Rae Lifestyle, they have some great rugs and cushions, and 57 Merchant, who have an eclectic mix of antiques and textiles. The French Depot is an emporium of beds, dressers, and Florentine furniture. Shop on Norman Road has everything from tasty food to beautiful tables and chairs. I also go to Hawk and Dove in Hastings for their wonderful vintage clothes.

Finally, my top tips for buying vintage? Make sure the things you buy aren’t falling apart. The worst thing is when you buy something and get it home, only to realise it’s got a massive crack and has been glued, without you noticing. Or the Armoire you’ve bought is full of woodworm and the handle has come off. Or the mirror has come away from the base. Check very carefully before you buy.

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Faded Glamour by the Sea by Pearl Lowe (CICO Books, £25), Photography by Dave Watts © CICO Books. See more at

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