In a booming British beach town, longtime locals team with newcomer architects to salvage a 19th-century workers’ lodging.

The kitchen is now part of the large open living space. The 1960s Hygena formica cabinets in Polyester Pumpkin were a vintage find. The white pendants are from IKEA and the blue is from Habitat.

Feeling lucky? Ollie Whitmarsh and Natasha Hart certainly were, after their Google search uncovered the ideal architecture firm, RL-a, to convert their cramped 19th-century cottage in southern England into a spacious family home. “My search was ‘architects, Margate,’” says Ollie, who works in insurance. “They seemed quite innovative, just from the website, and when we met we pretty much clicked straightaway.” 

As part of a nine-month renovation, the exterior of Natasha Hart and Oliver Whitmarsh’s cottage in Margate, England, was converted from pebble dash to insulated render.

As part of a nine-month renovation, the exterior of Natasha Hart and Oliver Whitmarsh’s cottage in Margate, England, was converted from pebble dash to insulated render. 

Photo: Nick Ballon

The meeting was even more serendipitous than it may at first sound—
RL-a’s Tim Ratliff and Tam Landells had only recently relocated their practice to a warehouse studio in the couple’s coastal town, joining hundreds of young artists, designers, and bearded baristas on their exodus from London, 75 miles away. Margate has become a celebrated destination for those priced out of the capital, with the blue-collar resort now a vision of what might happen if you were to drop Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg onto Coney Island. 



The window frames, side gate, and front door were brightened with custom shades from Johnstone’s Paint—a playful blue-yellow-orange color scheme that is carried throughout the house.

The window frames, side gate, and front door were brightened with custom shades from Johnstone’s Paint—a playful blue-yellow-orange color scheme that is carried throughout the house.

Photo: Nick Ballon

RL-a’s office is just a mile east of the new art gallery Turner Contemporary, named for onetime resident J.M.W. Turner, and the Dreamland theme park, which boasts a 1920s wooden roller-coaster inspired by an early Coney Island ride. Ollie and Natasha’s cottage sits about a mile southwest of the gallery, within easy reach of town, countryside, and beach.

Architects Tim Ratliff and Tam Landells tripled the footprint of the four-room house and increased the square footage to almost 2,000. Blue doors that were part of the original rear wall connect the

Architects Tim Ratliff and Tam Landells tripled the footprint of the four-room house and increased the square footage to almost 2,000. Blue doors that were part of the original rear wall connect the “snug,” or sitting room, to the new space. The chair was Natasha’s step-granddad’s; the 1960s pendant was found on eBay. 

Photo: Nick Ballon

See the full story on Dwell.com: Colors, Climbing Walls, and IKEA Hacks Fill This Charming English Cottage

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