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Home Décor Ideas: How to renovate a coastal retreat?

How to convert a rustic barn into a coastal retreat? Dynamic interior designer @justalittlebuild shares her secrets for creating an inspiring getaway home.

With staycation bookings booming, the demand for modern-luxe getaways has never been higher. Enter interior designer and influencer Sarah-Jane Cousens, whose social media empire, from her Instagram @justalittlebuild account to blog, radiates with contemporary chic. Her eye for transforming coastal retreats has turned her into a sought-out talent.

In the midst of her latest coastal project, namely a rustic barn, The Granary in North Cornwall, this multidisciplinary creative shares her design advice.

From mood boards to choosing the right furnishings and maximizing the space, Sarah-Jane is the dynamo who marries practicality with aspiration. We caught up with Sarah-Jane on stage one of her renovation journey.

1. Tell us about your latest renovation project in Cornwall that you are renovating from a barn into a coastal retreat?

"It's a two-bedroom barn conversion just outside Davidstow, not far from the rugged landscape of Bodmin Moor and only 6 miles from the dramatic North Cornish coastline. The brief is to create an interior space that gives guests a little slice of Cornish luxury! As part of the design work, I will be looking at the flow and function of the spaces, the furniture selections and the general style of the interiors."

2. You are a true mood board expert, so how did you approach creating one that works for a coastal escape?

"You always need one muse to set something off, and I know that could be one specific item that you are drawn to and that sets the tone of what I want it to feel like.

From there, you can layer on top of that by going,  I know that I like this, and I'm going to find items that work well with it,' and I keep collating all that information a and so it's quite a holistic look. It's so time-consuming because you keep going through that process.”


Featured above are fabric samples from Arlo & Jacob that will be styled in The Granary on furniture, including a Henry sofa.

3. With the mood board in mind, how is The Granary in Cornwall proceeding?

"The owners bought the house off-plan, midway through construction and together, we want to create a luxury coastal retreat for them and their holiday guests to escape to.

It would help if you made the flow consistent throughout the space, and you want people to feel quite at ease in their own surroundings, so continuity is key.

And that could be that you use a similar design in their panelling work or carpentry work, or it could be that you have a similar style that flows throughout the floorplan."

4. How have you moved the project forward from the original floorplan?

"After reviewing the builder's site plans, I noticed there could be a missed opportunity to include an en-suite within the master bedroom. As with any high-end holiday let where guests expect a certain comfort level, having two bathrooms instead of one is a big plus point, especially when compared with other holiday properties. With this in mind, we made a few tweaks to the plans. A change like this was possible and relatively straightforward because the project was in mid-construction. First, fix electrics and plumbing had only just gone in, so we could adapt them slightly to accommodate the new design."

5. What is the key to developing confidence with an interior design?

"Stay true to what you like is the key. Because I've gone through processes where you know you try to merge and change your style because you think it should be this way, but that proves to be difficult because then you're fighting your style.

Go with the things that you're very comfortable with. Then you could always inject something a little bit different to yourself, such as a pattern or a specific type of fabrication, or it could be a bit more of a bold statement in a furniture piece. But you still got the basis of your style as the backdrop; I think that's what makes a successful interior project."

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