To be filed under: The Ultimate in Simple Summer Living. Marcia Mihotich and Durrell Bishop’s tiny beach shack stands right in the sand at the mouth of the River Thames in Kent, England, and like its neighbors is little more than a wooden tent. The pleasing simplicity continues inside.
The couple happen to be two of London’s most interesting creatives—Marcia is a graphic designer and illustrator (her clients include Donna Wilson, the School of Life, and Studiomama, whose own shack is just two doors away) and Durrell is an interactive product designer at Line-us. Not surprisingly, they took a hands-on approach to their getaway. On tackling the remodel themselves, Marcia says, “It means that you often don’t quite finish everything, but it’s much more fun and you do get to know how everything works.”
Photography by Marcia Mihotich, except where noted.
Above: Located an hour and a half from London, the couple’s house (second from the left) is part of an enclave of 20 raised beach huts that overlook a part of the Thames Estuary known as The Swale. The nearest villages are Seasalter and Faversham, and Whitstable is an hour’s walk along the beach. Photograph via The Modern House.
The house was built in 1954, a detail the couple learned from a stamp on the wood in the ceiling. “We also came across a photo from the fifties that showed our house as fairly recognizable as it is today,” says Marcia. “I don’t really know about the inside, the previous owners had made it very much their own and we did the same.”
Above: Marcia and Durrell’s 15-year-old son, Hal (L), and Durrell’s mother, photographer Bridget Bishop (@lostruralindustries), in the living room, a mere 10 meters (about 33 feet) from the water at high tide.
The house is 30 square meters (approximately 323 square feet) and entirely sheathed in “shuttering ply,” a dense construction plywood that the couple selected because they wanted a grainy pattern. The simple windows and French doors are all new.
Above: Furnishings include a midcentury chair of unknown origin purchased by Durrell’s sister and a packing crate coffee table that, Marcia tells us, they found on the street near their place in London. “It’s from Martin Parr, the photographer; his name was on it, but he doesn’t know we took his rubbish. It’s a great table; we keep the Hoover and other stuff like that in it.”
Above: The sofa, which serves as an extra bed, is a homemade wooden platform—”just a base with four legs”—and upholstered foam cushions. It stands alongside a stack of Ikea’s Alvar Aalto–inspired [product id=”618574″]Frosta Stools[/product], currently on sale for $11.99 each, and a [product id=”599223″]biergarten table[/product].
Above: The kitchen is tucked just beyond the dining area. That’s the back (inland) door in the distance. Photograph via The Modern House.
Above: Pretend cellphones made years ago by Hal and a friend hang on the dining area wall. Note the patterning of the plywood.
“In the UK most plywood is birch ply, which is quite grain-free and uniform,” explains Rachel. “We like the grain, and shuttering ply has a more pronounced grain and is also more affordable. But there are many different grades of shuttering ply and we found a timber supplier in Rochester where we could choose one we liked and then order the number of sheets we wanted from the same batch. If the wood is from different batches, the patterning can be very, very different, which doesn’t look so good if you want to have a continuous surface.”
Above: The couple rebuilt the kitchen using Ikea cabinets that they faced with plywood. The stainless steel counter and sink are also from Ikea.
The kitchen is equipped with a small under-the-counter fridge and an Ikea combination stove and microwave (shown here), as well as an electric burner, but most cooking takes place outside on the grill. The portrait is a 50-pence (64-cent) car boot sale purchase.
Above: A lineup of garlic boxes salvaged from a local grocery serve as over-the-counter storage—”they were added on a whim, but have proven pretty useful,” says Marcia. Photograph via The Modern House.
The cabinet pulls are loops of rope from a sailing shop “just because it’s fairly indestructible.”
Above: Marcia and Durrell are ever on the lookout for presentable appliances. They bought their Récolte [product id=”975742″]Classic Libre Electric Kettle[/product] on a trip to Hong Kong.
Above: The bedroom has a twin bed and a sleeping loft big enough for two. In addition to wall hooks, there are storage bins incorporated into the steps to the loft.
Above: The tiny plywood bathroom has just enough room for the door to open. “But the shower is hot, the loo flushes, and there are three drawers under the sink, which is enough for the essentials,” says Marcia.
Above: There’s also a curtained-off bedroom just beyond the kitchen.
Above: To orient the house to the sea and outdoor living, the front door and living area are on the water side. Sleeping quarters are sequestered in the back.
Above: Marcia and Durrell’s house is second from right—that’s Marcia on the porch. The pale shingled house with the glass door belongs to their friends Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama of Remodelista favorite Studiomama.
For more unofficial-start-of-summer seaside inspiration:
- Rehab Diary: The Ultimate Houseboat in NYC
- The Outermost House: Modest Modernism in Wellfleet
- A Cottage Reborn in Coastal Maine
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on August 25, 2017.