Is there anything better than a virtual home tour? Designer Dream Homes is a series featuring the living spaces of our favorite interior designers and home decor influencers, where they give us the full lowdown on how they live. It’s all the things we love about browsing virtual real estate listings, with the added benefit of hearing exactly what it is that makes these dream homes so special.
Emma Sims-Hilditch of Sims Hilditch
Emma and her family are based full-time in Wiltshire, where she runs her eponymous interior design firm—widely known and beloved for its country-chic aesthetic. But when they’re not in their countryside family home or their townhouse in London, Emma and her crew escape to their 2,600 sq ft beach house in St. Mawes in Cornwall––England’s stunning coastal county, forming the country’s southwestern tip.
“We first acquired our lovely home in St. Mawes in 2010. We have always loved Cornwall and absolutely adored this home’s stunning sea-view location, and saw great potential to reconfigure the existing space to work for us as a family.
“We did a lot of work when we first moved in,” said Emma of the home which was built in 1910. “We knocked down some of the walls in the entrance hall to create a larger space that sets a light, breezy and welcoming tone for the rest of the home.
It was important to Emma that they pay homage to their coastal surroundings without leaning into a full Cornish theme.
“One way that we threaded notes of coastal aesthetic through the home is by placing my daughter Daisy’s paintings of the Cornwall scenery around the cottage, and simple prints of classic sailing yachts in the bedrooms. I also included accents of red throughout, particularly in the sitting room where the spines of red books peek out of the bookshelves. The resulting effect is one of romance and relaxation, which is perfect for a coastal home.”
Yard and Garden Features
The home features a garden with a terrace dining space and a view of the sea.
“The temperate climate allows us to grow some amazing plants, including a banana tree! We created a cloud hedge along the boundary of the garden, beyond which you can see the sea. We have a lovely terrace which is perfect to congregate with family to dine al fresco when the weather is nice. One of my favorite things in the garden is a tumbling rosemary hedge that grows really well in our garden. I also adore the lovely wisteria that climbs up the side of the house.”
“There was also a sweet little summer house in which I could envision a studio to work in, or to simply enjoy a cup of coffee.”
In this home, storage and organization are key.
“I love how the storage is so well organised in this space,” said Emma. “I have a wonderful spice drawer which helps me to keep track of what I have in a very smart way and a brilliant pantry cupboard which stores all of my dry ingredients and jars. [There’s] even [space for] the equipment which might otherwise sit untidily on the counter, like weighing scales.”
The floors throughout the home are “a collection of natural materials.”
“For every Sims Hilditch project we undertake, we consider a property’s natural surroundings, and this will often influence our design choices,” explained Emma. “In St. Mawes, we are surrounded by beautiful scenery and have tried to bring some of this into the interior through the use of wooden flooring and sisal carpets.”
“The view of the sea was a major pull” when it came to selecting this home, but there’s one spot in particular with the best view. “The view of the distant headland is visible from the first floor. [That] was certainly a factor in our decision to convert the attic into our bedroom.”
But even in rooms without a sea view, the windows create a special ambiance. “This home is blessed with large windows which allow natural light to flood the home, creating a fresh and calm atmosphere which is key to a coastal property or holiday home.”
The bathroom has been very carefully designed for efficiency. “Designing this bathroom was a bit of a challenge because of the pitched ceiling,” said Emma. “But it was well worth the effort to create an architecturally interesting and bespoke space that I adore.
“My husband and I managed to design a bath, vanity, console table, toilet and shower into our quaint en-suite bathroom through careful spatial planning, making this room very much a family effort which is special in itself,” said Emma. “I love the fact that the floor is covered in pebbles in homage to the property’s beautiful seaside location, and the shower is surprisingly spacious and fully tiled with handmade tiles by Malborough Tiles," she said.
“[Tongue-and-groove] on the walls pays tribute to the country style for which Sims Hilditch is known, and a big window sill gives space to decorate and style the room.”
“We recreated a staircase that leads upstairs to what was once the attic, which we converted into a beautiful bedroom, bathroom, and dressing area," said Emma.
"The space itself isn’t huge, so I had to be clever with storage. I created a small dressing area and recessed the cabinets into a void in the roof pitch to make use of the space which would otherwise have been wasted. We included light sensors in the wardrobe, and I opted for shutters on the window of the bedroom to accommodate the pitch in the ceiling—curtains or blinds simply wouldn’t fit and blinds work well with an English coastal aesthetic in mind.”
Ceilings and Walls
"We also applied a v-groove boarding to the walls in various rooms and a rough boarding on the ceiling, which creates texture and a charming ‘not too new’ effect’. We replaced all the doors in the house with a classic design and turned our hand to installing intelligent storage solutions throughout, such as recessing shelving into walls and a hidden cupboard below the stairs.”
“We have a bowl in our sitting room filled with little pebbles on which our cherished friends and family wrote messages to my husband and I for our 25th wedding anniversary. Special touches like this add heart to a home, making it a truly special place.”
Extra Special Details
“I created a lovely picture wall made up of family photos and hung it up the stairs to the bedroom to bring the family into the home and personalize the space.”