Polly & Dai’s Happy Cornwall Cottage Home

published Nov 21, 2013
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(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

Name: Dai, Polly, Minnie & Rosie Hughes
Location: Crackington Haven, North Cornwall
Size: 3 bedrooms
Years lived in: 3, owned

Polly and Dai’s colourful cottage in Cornwall is just a short walk to the rugged cliffs and sandy beach at Crackington Haven. The couple moved to this idyllic spot three years ago when their twin daughters, Minnie and Rosie, were babies. It’s a far cry from their previous life amidst the hustle and bustle of London’s East end, and the family has fully embraced the change of scene.

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(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

The house is made of traditional stone and cob, and like all good homes is still something of a work in progress. Together, the couple designed a new kitchen, using old tea chests for cupboard doors, and they have filled the house with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture and modern designs. The garden has also been transformed, with beautiful and productive vegetable beds, a vast log pile to keep the wood burning stove going, and a sunny shed from which Dai works.

The kids’ rooms are a definite highlight of this house, with one of the girls having a clever cabin bed, built in to an otherwise empty space behind the stairs. Each of their bedrooms is bright and colorful and filled with a medley of toys and art. This looks like a fun house to grow up in, and those are my very favourite kinds of family homes.

(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bright, colourful.

Inspiration: Freshness and light, mixed with some simple Scandinavian design and some random things. We want our home to be comfortable to live in and for our children to play in. Our aim is to strike a balance between those things. One day when we get around to sorting more of our things and perhaps extending the building, the house will hopefully reflect this better… Otherwise I (Polly) really love pretty much anything Marimekko. I think this best reflects what we aim for, with some inherited antiques and vintage finds thrown in for good measure.

Favorite Element: The girls’ bedrooms (although there are still a few finishing touches needed!) and the kitchen, as they are the most complete and so best reflect our tastes. Everything else is a work in progress.

Biggest Challenge: Finding time to get anything done! And sanding the upstairs floors, as the old boards were caked in some kind of tar. We took 3 days to get anywhere near a reasonable finish and still had to pay someone professional to complete the job.

What Friends Say: Most don’t like all of it but love a lot of it. All probably say it’s very ‘us’

Biggest Embarrassment: Dai accidentally drilling a hole into the new table top when attaching the legs. It was the last hole too…

Proudest DIY: The Peg board in kitchen used to hang mugs and various kitchen utensils.

Biggest Indulgence: The custom built unit in the kitchen – the height is perfect for us and helps us avoid backache whilst washing up!

Best Advice: We’ve found it can be good to live in a house before doing too much to it (most of the work we have done so far is light cosmetic), providing it’s in a reasonable enough state to do that! It can be handy for planning exactly what you want or need once you know how you will live in and use a space, especially if you’re on a tight budget, so there won’t be any expensive mistakes / regrets. Eventually we’ll knock down walls and do more structural work, and living here before we begin that process has helped us to realise exactly what we want at the end of it.

Dream Sources: Marimekko, Hay, SCP, Ferm Living, Huset Shop, Madeleine Weinrib, Svenskt Tenn

(Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

Resources of Note:


  • Dulux soft sheen white
  • Dulux matt white (used on pretty much every wall as they’re so uneven, it’s a bit more forgiving)

  • 70’s Ercol 3 piece suite : EBay
  • Red wing back chair : family heirloom
  • Cushions : Various high street (Zara, H&M, Habitat) mixed with Vintage shops around Brick Lane and Columbia Road in East London
  • Rug : Habitat
  • Standard & pendant lamp shades : Innes (lamp base from local charity shop)
  • Curtains : The Shop vintage shop on Cheshire Street E1
  • Large Bitossi Vase and Bitossi horse ornament : SCP
  • Chicken Girl print : Charming Baker
  • Poppy Painting : by Radmila Lizdek
  • Hare print : By D Beale from Soma Gallery Bristol
  • Hat stand, writing box, jug, sewing box and clocks : family heirlooms
  • TV stand : Conran Shop
  • Vintage Toys : EBay or Local Car Boot Sale
  • Pouffes : Blue fabric by rice.dk from the Little Baby Company, Red & yellow from REfound objects

  • Table : Legs from The Lollipop Shoppe in Spitalfields Market, Laminated Top from firm in Liskeard
  • Chairs : eBay
  • Custom Built sink and storage unit : Good Life Joinery, Cornwall
  • Large White display unit & small white wall unit : eBay
  • Curtains hiding storage spaces : Fabric from Donna Flower (donnaflower.com)
  • Black & White print : Grayson Perry ‘Tomb of the unknown craftsman’ from the British Museum
  • Dandelion painting : Jagoda Sestic enq. branka-msurs@teol.net
  • Solar System Print : Ben Newman from Soma Gallery Bristol
  • Orange wall light : Anglepoise from the Conran Shop
  • Ceiling lights : fittings from Jim Lawrence, shades from B&Q
  • Clock : Brixton by Newgate
  • Peg board :
  • Jugs above stove : Bethan Jones

  • Chest of drawers : Family heirloom
  • Bed : 2 single beds joined to make a Super King from eBay
  • Welsh Rug : Labour & Wait
  • Curtains : hand me down fabric
  • Card table : Family heirloom
  • Laundry basket & Bin : Milagros Mexican Shop on Columbia Road
  • Butterfly Print : Nelly Duff
  • Hockney Print : Pocklington Framing
  • peAce print : Robert BrownJohn, Design Museum
  • Soul Birds (wooden ornaments) : Sanna Annukka
  • Ornaments and nick nacks on table and dresser : Marimekko, car boot fairs, eBay
  • Cushions and throws : A mix of H&M and vintage or charity shop finds

  • Bed : Laura Ashley
  • Bed Linen : Libery for Zara Kids
  • Picture rail book shelves : Ikea
  • Wall stickers : H&M and Little Baby Company
  • Swan Lake print : Part of a concertina book by Ping Zhu from Nobrow Press
  • Animal Print : A framed sheet of wrapping paper, illustration by Andy Smith from nineteenseventythree.com
  • Curtains : The Shop, Cheshire Street E1
  • Rug : Urban Outfitters
  • Cat seat : By Mariscal
  • Bird mobile : vintage Japanese mobile from Etsy
  • Print Cushions : Ikea
  • Lace cushion & train spelling ‘Clementine’: Spanish Market
  • Toadstool lamp : The Little Baby Company
  • Hanging animals, birds etc on branch and other knick-knacks on shelves: from Tate Shop, Eden Project, V&A museum of Childhood, esthex.com, the-pippa-and-ike-show.com


  • Bed : Custom built by Good Life Joinery, Cornwall
  • Bed Linen : Liberty for Zara Kids
  • Castle Print : Patrick Hruby, Nobrow Press (nobrow.net)
  • Pink circus print : framed sheet of wrapping paper, illustration by Andy Smith from nineteenseventythree.com
  • Picture Rail book shelves : Ikea
  • Mouse hanging decorations : esthex.com
  • Sofa bed : eBay
  • Lace cushions : Spanish market
  • Printed cushion : ikea
  • Rug : Urban Outfitters
  • Cat seat : Mariscal
  • Toadstool Lamp : Little Baby Company
  • Vintage Balloon Lamp on wall : Yves Christin for Bilumen from Etsy
  • Balloon wall stickers : Littlephant
  • Japanese paper balloons : gift
  • Hanging stars : Tate shop

  • Medicine Cabinet : eBay
  • ‘Mystic Holistic Hovering Goose’ print : Sam Arthur
  • Shower curtains : hand me down curtains
  • Hanging fruit basket storage : eBay
  • Duck print (above bath) : salvaged tiles from Dai’s grandmothers kitchen refurbishment
  • Linens : various vintage, habitat, hand-me-downs

  • Pretty Taxing print : By Peter Blake from the Art Car Boot Fair
  • Screenprinted Love Birds : By Tom Frost from Soma Gallery
  • Magic Lantern Slide : eBay
  • History of Aviation print : part of a concertina book called High Times by illustration duo Golden Cosmos from Nobrow Press
  • Everything that is supposed to be in heaven print : by Rob Ryan
  • Butterflies & Moths print : Jonathan McNaught
  • Various love spoons : wedding gifts and hand-me-downs
  • Glass vase : Holmegaard Gul Vase from Spitalfields antiques fair
  • German Lava Pottery vases : Spitalfields antiques fair & eBay
  • Landscape watercolour : Jagoda Sestic enq. branka-msurs@teol.net
  • Landscape oil painting : Jagoda Sestic enq. branka-msurs@teol.net
  • (Image credit: Rebecca Proctor)

    Thanks, Polly and Dai!

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