Inside an interior designer’s pink holiday home in Cornwall
The longing for a pink house had been with interior designer Anouska Lancaster since childhood, and when a wedding gift saw her whisked away for a weekend with her husband Greig Scott to Port Isaac, could it be that her dreams of a rose cottage in Cornwall could come true?
‘We simply fell in love with the place,’ recalls Anouska. ‘Greig works long hours in a pressured job, but the patchy phone signal in Port Isaac meant he could actually switch off and relax. With two businesses and four children between us, it just felt like the right place to buy a holiday home.’
The Rose Cottage in Cornwall
Finding the picture-perfect fisherman’s cottage in a good location took time, however. Having spotted Rose Cottage, a three-bedroom Grade II-listed Victorian property on Rightmove, the couple arranged a viewing and made a dash for Cornwall, only to receive news mid-journey that it had just sold. Persevering with the trip, Anouska and Greig remarkably found – and bought – a different cottage instead.
A year later, as they were completing renovations, a local holiday letting agent let slip that the sale of Rose Cottage had fallen through, and that the owners were still keen to sell.
‘We couldn’t help ourselves,’ says Anouska. ‘We just had to go and look, and it was every bit as amazing as expected. It had never left our hearts, so we had to buy it.’
The property was still used as a holiday rental when the couple bought it in 2019, but they were able to buy directly from the owners, and promised the letting agents they would honour existing bookings through the season.
‘We hadn’t realised how bad things were’
‘There was one week free towards the end of summer that we were able to get in and stay there, and it was grim,’ recalls Anouska. ‘It was being let for peanuts because it was in bad condition, with issues like damp and woodworm, and we hadn’t realised quite how bad things were. I remember my daughter complaining that it smelt of fish!’
Renovation of their previous cottage had been mostly cosmetic, so it was a shock to be repeatedly uncovering big problems when work finally got underway. On the exterior, the render had blown, and the cavity filled with water.
As the building is Grade II listed, this had to be completely stripped and the walls refinished in several coats of traditional lime render, which took time to dry in the damp months of winter. Inside, one of the bedroom ceilings collapsed, crashing its way through the dining room beneath.
‘We could see right up to the loft from the ground floor,’ says Anouska. ‘It was terrifying to think it was that unstable, as my son Kai had slept in the room only weeks earlier.’
Most of the walls needed reinforcing to keep damp out, which ate into the couple’s renovation budget, and even the initial highlights of the property, like the original Aga, soon began to fade, as it was condemned as unrepairable.
‘We really had no idea what we were taking on,’ admits Anouska. ‘Wallpaper was holding most of the walls together, and they would collapse in a heap of sand and dust as soon as they were stripped. The electrics and plumbing were shocking, and we really did end up taking the house right back to its bare bones.’
With such extensive building work, the positive outcome is that the property has been fully restored. Coastal houses take a beating from extreme weather conditions throughout the year, from saltwater-laden winds and hot summer rays, so the care and attention from the current custodians means the cottage will now stand for many years to come.
Bold colour choices
Once the extensive structural work was complete, the next phase was to provide Anouska with a blank canvas in which to indulge her passion for decorating. And this cottage is no shrinking violet: bold colour choices and even bolder wallcoverings provide stunning backdrops to statement pieces of furniture and whimsical fabrics.
‘I designed Rose Cottage as our house, and I really didn’t care what other people thought,’ says Anouska. ‘The pink kitchen with the gold handles for example is everything to me. I love it and it fills me with joy, but it was important that the house still looked like a fisherman’s cottage. I would never have put in a shiny new gloss kitchen or stripped out the fireplaces or any of the original features,’ she adds.
‘I wanted to celebrate colour and pattern here and to give the cottage a new lease of life by putting an amazing twist on it. This house has got such a special place in my heart – this is my style, my dream, and I feel very much at home here.’
Now, every room has a decadent decorating spin on the cottage’s coastal location – from ice-cream sundae paint shades to characterful mermaid-inspired corners. ‘The house is fun and makes you smile, which is everything a holiday home should be about,’ says Anouska.