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The Life Aquatic in Cornwall: A Waterfront House—and One-Time Dinghy Club—Reinvented

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The Life Aquatic in Cornwall: A Waterfront House—and One-Time Dinghy Club—Reinvented

August 6, 2019

When lighting designer Chris Millard and interior design Flo Millard relocated from London to the village of Rock in Cornwall, they hoped and dreamed for exactly this sort of project. A one-time dinghy club and restaurant perched on the waterfront in tiny, steep Polruan, on Cornwall’s south coast, the wooden structure had long ago been converted into living quarters, but was in need of a top-to-bottom rethink. “The house had been reinvented several times over the years,” Flo tells us, “and the result of these reiterations meant it was a patchwork of rooms with a rather confusing layout.”

Millard & Flo, as the couple call their firm, stepped in and, while preserving the footprint, gave the structure a historically sensitive makeover, opening up and orienting the living spaces to the river, relocating the kitchen to an underused part of the ground floor, and fully outfitting the place: “we provided all furniture, finishes, joinery, and lighting.” The results are a bright and breezy modern-classic nod to boathouse style executed with ease and restraint. And an unmistakeable English accent. For those of us still recovering from winter, these rooms are a tonic.

Photography by David Curran courtesy of Millard & Flo.

thanks to glazing added in a past renovation, the back of the wooden structure  9
Above: Thanks to glazing added in a past renovation, the back of the wooden structure has wide open views of the Fowey Estuary, which flows into the English channel. The house is accessible by foot only, “providing the contractors, as you can imagine, with quite a challenge,” says Flo.
the main entry, with a porthole window, opens to a spacious sitting area. (elec 10
Above: The main entry, with a porthole window, opens to a spacious sitting area. (Electrical systems are concealed behind the upper cabinets.) The house is accessed by a series of steep steps down from the street level.

The designers introduced whitewashed paneling, ceilings included, throughout: “we tied the entire scheme together with the use of several tons of timber cladding,” says Flo, “horizontal on the ground floor and classic vertical tongue-and-groove upstairs.”

the kitchen is an entirely bespoke design fabricated by millard & flo&# 11
Above: The kitchen is an entirely bespoke design fabricated by Millard & Flo’s crew. The counter is oak and the apron sink is from Perrin & Rowe.

The white paint used throughout is Little Greene’s Slaked Lime, which, according to the company is “made with a combination of minerals to give a warm and soft appearance.”

a georgian prep table with new porcelain knobs has been put into commission in  12
Above: A Georgian prep table with new porcelain knobs has been put into commission in the center of the room. (The fridge is located just out of the shot to the right of the pantry and near the sink.)
the designers introduced interiors windows throughout, including this glazed pa 13
Above: The designers introduced interiors windows throughout, including this glazed pantry painted Basalt, a rich blue-black from Little Greene. There’s also a skylight that floods the space with natural light.

The kitchen is open to a large dining area overlooking the river.

the paneling continues in the pantry. note the owners&#8\2\17; fortnum & 14
Above: The paneling continues in the pantry. Note the owners’ Fortnum & Mason wicker picnic hamper on the floor.
a long antique bench, found in an undisclosed favorite cornwall antiques store, 15
Above: A long antique bench, found in an undisclosed favorite Cornwall antiques store, stands by the entry.
the living area is adjacent to the kitchen and overlooks the water. the floorin 16
Above: The living area is adjacent to the kitchen and overlooks the water. The flooring is wide-board oak lightened with a white oil finish.
the armchairs and sofa in the lounge are conran designs slipcovered in a heavy  17
Above: The armchairs and sofa in the lounge are Conran designs slipcovered in a heavy linen that Flo & Millard supplied.
a gray sofa and tiger poster from fine little day in the waterside end of the m 18
Above: A gray sofa and Tiger Poster from Fine Little Day in the waterside end of the main floor.
fine little day&#8\2\17;s linen bakerman wall hanging by daniel götesson 19
Above: Fine Little Day’s linen Bakerman Wall Hanging by Daniel Götessons in the upstairs sitting area, where the paneling is vertical.
original btc porcelain hector wall lights in the paneled bedroom hall. note the 20
Above: Original BTC porcelain Hector Wall Lights in the paneled bedroom hall. Note the paneled wood doors. The antique pine dresser has been updated with porcelain knobs similar to the ones used in the kitchen and on the doors.
twin cast iron beds in cornflower blue in the guest room. there are five bedroo 21
Above: Twin cast-iron beds in cornflower blue in the guest room. There are five bedrooms total.
in the family bath: tongue and groove paneling with a bead, an old fashioned to 22
Above: In the family bath: tongue-and-groove paneling with a bead, an old-fashioned toilet, and herringbone cement tiles. (For tile pattern ideas, see Remodeling 101: White Tile Pattern Glossary.) The seahorse print and cage light lend a subtly nautical look.
a carrara marble topped double sink in the master bath. under a pair of origina 23
Above: A Carrara marble-topped double sink in the master bath. Under a pair of Original BTC Well Glass Pendant Lights, the metal mirrors have built-in shelves (for sourcing ideas, see Design Sleuth: Bathroom Mirrors with Shelves).
a claw footed tub and wall hung heated towel rack. 24
Above: A claw-footed tub and wall-hung heated towel rack.
a master bedroom with a view. the balcony has bifold double doors. the cast iro 25
Above: A master bedroom with a view. The balcony has bifold double doors. The cast-iron bed is the Maude from the Cornish Bed Company.
at one end of the room, an antique bench and bird print by breon o&#8\2\17 26
Above: At one end of the room, an antique bench and bird print by Breon O’Casey, of Cornwall’s St Ives School, which the designers sourced from the artist’s estate.

Inspired to panel your own house? See our Remodeling 101: The Ultimate Paneling Guide with Jersey Ice Cream Co.

a glimpse into the &#8\2\20;garden room&#8\2\2\1; in the back on the ho 27
Above: A glimpse into the “garden room” in the back on the house.

Browse our Nautical Archive for more maritime design inspiration.

Thinking of venturing to Cornwall? Take a look at:

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