The Studio, but not as you know it
In the midst of a pandemic, Simon and Sanchia took the plunge to secure their dream of having their own place by the sea, buying and upgrading an existing Coastal Retreat The Studio. Combining their daughter’s interior design flair with inspiration from both Sanchia’s childhood growing up in Kenya and Simon’s summer holidays on the Northumberland coast, they have created a stylish place where, without a doubt, guests will enjoy spending time.
Tell us a bit about yourselves
We’ve been married for 27 years and live in Newcastle upon Tyne. We were both born in Newcastle, but Sanchia spent her early childhood living in Kenya. She is a fitness fanatic and has had a career in project and events management, but for the last five years has worked for Coastal Retreats where she helps guests find their perfect holiday cottage.
Simon was brought up in rural Northumberland, where his Dad was a farmer. He spent many happy summer holidays on the beaches of Bamburgh, Seahouses and Newton by the Sea. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army based in Catterick. He loves nothing more than spending time in the mountains of the Alps, Himalayas or Lake District, climbing or skiing.
We have two grown up children; Sophie is 25 and is an interior designer. She helped provide inspiration for the design of Samphire Barn. Charlie is 23 and doing a master’s degree in computer science at Northumbria University.
What made you choose Samphire Barn for your holiday home?
We have always wanted to find a cottage by the sea and loved the idea of having a barn conversion, so Samphire Barn ticked all the boxes. We were extremely fortunate that the former owners were looking to sell the property at just the right time for us. We wanted to put our own stamp on it, and we knew that it had great potential with its generous sized rooms, quirky room in the rafters and cosy log burner.
What was the inspiration behind the design?
We wanted to create the sort of place in which we would enjoy spending time, at any time of year. We looked for inspiration from beach and coastal properties around the world, but in particular, the east coast of the USA. It’s where New England meets Newton by the Sea! Our daughter Sophie, who is a very talented interior designer, helped provide inspiration and ideas. We had lots of fun finding the furniture and all of the bits and pieces that make the cottage unique. Simon made the driftwood lamp in the sitting room and Sanchia’s seashells were always going to be a centrepiece. We still have some plans to complete, including a new ensuite bathroom in the master bedroom, installing a glazed wall to the mezzanine bedroom and making a new seating and dining area in the garden.
Tell us more about the unique shell artwork
Sanchia collected the shells displayed in Samphire Barn on walks with her Dad on far-flung tropical beaches of East Africa and the Seychelles, so they are very special! We thought they would make the most perfect wall art.
Where did you source some of your pieces?
Sanchia enjoys upcycling furniture using Fusion paint so the cottage has a mixture of old and new furniture. Many of the new pieces were from The Cotswold Co. We also like to support local artists and some of our prints are from The Old School Gallery in Alnmouth and a very quirky shop called RE in Corbridge. Some of the soft furnishings were from independent creators on Etsy or from Maison du Monde.
What’s your favourite spot at Samphire Barn?
We both love the mezzanine bedroom and the view looking down from the mezzanine is fantastic. Once the new glass wall has been installed it will be amazing! We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, but we are really looking forward to snuggling up on the sofa beside the log burning stove on a cold winter’s night.
Where do you love to go in Northumberland?
Northumberland has been described as ‘England’s best-kept secret’ and there are so many amazing places to discover. Of course, the beaches are amazing – as good as you will find anywhere in the world – Bamburgh, Beadnell, Newton and Embleton, but also, Seahouses, Warkworth and Druridge Bay. There are more castles in Northumberland than in any other English county; Alnwick, Lindisfarne, Warkworth, Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh are all on the doorstep! However, my favourite area is close to where I was brought up – the Coquet Valley. Near to Rothbury is Cragside, the home of Lord Armstrong and the first house in the world to have electric light and there are wonderful walks around the grounds. Further into the valley, you will reach Holystone and Harbottle and if you keep going, the Scottish border is a stone’s throw away.
How would you describe Samphire Barn in three words?
Stylish, Coastal, Comfort