Pauline's Tranquil English Marina-Front Apartment

Pauline's Tranquil English Marina-Front Apartment

Rebecca Bond
Apr 15, 2016

Name: Pauline Thorne
Location: Brighton, UK
Size: 1,425 square feet
Years lived in: 15 years

There is something instantly relaxing about Pauline's apartment. It is light and airy, and every room has an enviable view over Brighton marina. Over the years Pauline has ruthlessly edited her possessions to create a space where only much-loved items are allowed. She follows William Morris' golden rule: "have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Pauline moved here fifteen years ago from a much larger period house in the north of England. Furnishing her current home has been more about making existing possessions work in the new space than accumulating additional pieces — "it is a constant challenge to achieve a pared down look when I love collecting." You won't find any IKEA or throw away furniture in this apartment. Pauline prefers to buy quality pieces that are built to last. She got the Chesterfield sofa forty years ago with her first-ever pay check, and it is still going strong. Other pieces were picked up over the years at auctions and thrift stores.

The spare room, where her grandchildren stay when they are over from New York, is the one space Pauline is happy to keep adding to. Miniature toys are displayed in an old print maker's tray. There are framed vintage alphabet cards and a signed letter from King George VI on the walls. A bamboo kendo sword brought back from a trip to Japan hangs over the window, while a bucket and spade and sailing boat light give the room a fun, beside-the-seaside feel.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style/ Inspiration: A friend's house that I visited over 40 years ago. It was light and open had been furnished from junk shops. It was neither fussy nor overly bland. She had balanced the neutrality of the decor with colorful and interesting art work. All these years later you could walk into that house and it would not look dated. That one visit dramatically influenced my approach to my own home.

Favorite Element: I like that I am using all the space.

Biggest Challenge: It was a featureless box when I moved in. The selling point was the view, but after a while you stop looking out the window all the time, so the place had to acquire a personality.

What Friends Say: They love the view!

Biggest Embarrassment: I still haven't got around to buying a wardrobe for the main bedroom! I am still grieving about a French armoire I didn't buy ten years ago. I don't have many clothes to hang up, but it would have been handy for storing my books. I don't like open book shelves, but I love books.

Proudest DIY: I recovered some of my chairs and made most of my cushions. I am proudest of my hand-painted silk cushion.

Biggest Indulgence: My kitchen. I love cooking, and this is the perfect kitchen for me. There is lots of workspace and lots of storage, so I can keep all the clutter hidden away.

Best Advice: Buy something because you love it. Be prepared to do without for a while rather than get stuck with something that in your heart of hearts you know isn't really you.

Dream Sources: I love all the interesting individual shops in Brighton's North Laine's area.

Resources of Note:


  • Living room: Ivory, Fired Earth
  • Children's room: Mimosa, Albany
  • Other rooms: Bridestowe, Albany


  • Chesterfield sofa: bought for £100 with her first pay check forty years ago.
  • Cream armchair: donated by a friend and recovered by Pauline.
  • Leather armchair: Suttons "It is pretty ugly but incredibly comfortable!"
  • Silk cushion: hand painted by Pauline
  • Curtains: Suttons
  • Afghan rug: Brighton
  • Lamp: bought over 30 years ago from an interiors shop in Sheffield. "It was an extravagance at the time, but I've never regretted it."
  • Collectors cabinet: antique shop
  • Painting: Christie's Contemporary Art


  • Table: Arts and Crafts reproduction
  • Chairs: John Lewis
  • Dresser: junk shop
  • French bronze lady: auction
  • Ceramic plaque: a gift
  • Oil painting: Brighton Gallery
  • Dustpan and brush: Iris Handverks


  • Units: In-toto
  • Splashbacks: Fired Earth
  • Butcher's block: John Lewis


  • Brass bed: junk shop
  • Bed linen: Cologne and Cotton
  • Chest of drawers: discount furniture shop, repainted by Pauline
  • Clock: a gift
  • Curtains: Suttons
  • Polar bear: charity shop
  • 1830s sampler: scout jumble sale


  • Bed linen: Designers Guild
  • Chest of drawers: junk shop
  • Print makers tray: junk shop
  • Sailing boat light: homemade from a kite
  • Kendo training sword: souvenir from Japan


  • Wall tiles: "They were actually floor tiles and they were so thick the plumber had to trim them down with a diamond cutter."
  • Floor tiles: Karndean
  • Bathmat: Fired Earth

Thanks, Pauline!

(Images: Rebecca Bond)

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