This Margate, England, Home Is Full of Colorful Surprises

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When interior designer and serial renovator Hannah Pemberton set her sights on overhauling a large Arts and Crafts–era home in the English seaside town of Margate, many of those closest to her had their doubts—and voiced them. “Everybody was like: ‘What are you doing? It’s too big; it’s such a project!’ They said we were crazy,” she recalls. What they didn’t understand was that it was just the right fit. She and her husband, Matt, are both self-employed and needed dedicated areas to work from home, and fortunately for them, this detached house boasts six bedrooms, one of which could easily be turned into Matt’s office (Hannah claimed the area off the kitchen for herself). The designer never doubted her capacity for overhauling the 2,700-square-foot property, which she describes as a “sad, tatty mess” when they got their hands on it four years ago.

Hannah attacked the home’s makeover with her signature approach of blending form with function. “I love designing storage so that things can be hidden away practically, and making them look exciting in the process,” she says. Case in point: The luxurious daybed in the kitchen is a clever alternative to a sofa and surrounded by pastel-hued shelves for her 6-year-old son Felix’s books and toys. “Most of the time he’s sprawled out on it playing with Legos or reading, which is what it was designed for,” she says. To its right is a large, light-filled studio where Hannah can mood-board design concepts for clients and store her bicycle. 

office with large windows

Desk, Made; Chair, Fritz Hansen; High Chair, Ercol; Custom Side Table by Hannah Pemberton; Vintage Anglepoise Lamp.

With cooking being a big part of their family life (Hannah had a pop-up restaurant in London back in 2016 and has also authored a cookbook dedicated to plant-based bowls), a walk-in pantry was a must. “Cooking is probably my love language; it’s how people know if I like them,” she says, laughing. Overlooking the garden, meals and morning coffee are enjoyed around the bouclé-swathed banquette, which was gained by absorbing the garage.

The kitchen’s orange island is inarguably a quirky feature, but it doesn’t come off as overbearing given it’s tempered by the rest of the room’s neutral palette. “I try to walk a line of respectability, but with a little wink through colorful accessories,” says Hannah of her spirited style. 

boucle dining banquette

Vintage Murano Pendant Lamp; Custom Dining Table and Benches by Hannah Pemberton; Tile, Domus; Bouclé Fabric Upholstery, Bute Fabrics; Curtain, Ada & Ina.
pink sofa

Pink Ground, Setting Plaster, and Studio Green Paint, Farrow & Ball; Sofa, Camerich; Sofa Upholstery, Linwood; Coffee Table, Maitland Smith; Mirror by Chaty Vallauris, 1stDibs; Lamp, West Elm; Tile, The Baked Tile Company; Cropton Stove, Town and Country Fires.

One room that always garners excitement from visitors is the narrow powder room, which is clad in pink zellige tile and has a coordinating concrete sink and saffron-tinged walls. “I used the tiles to accentuate how long and thin that space is,” explains Hannah. The warm tones are echoed around the house, courtesy of a palette of orange, pink, and beige, contrasted with pops of green as a nod to the sea, which is just a short walk away.

Upstairs, Hannah furnished the bedrooms with a mix of pieces she sketched and had custom-made, such as the plywood bedside and dressing table in the primary bedroom. Her opulent super-king bed is upholstered in a romantic floral fabric she plans to stock on her website. The drumlike fringed lampshades are her take on a mid-century design classic, which she scaled up in size. When she posted one on her Instagram account, it ignited a flurry of orders—she’s shipped hundreds to clients all around the world. 

In Felix’s space, the ceiling is wrapped in a warming, sandy-toned paint—a nod to the subtle shipwreck theme the designer was going for (not pictured: a life-size resin cactus and palm tree in the corner). “It started when my mum, who is an antiques dealer, bought me a model of a ship,” explains Hannah. “I wanted it to reflect that we live by the beach without the stereotypical nautical stuff.”

On the third floor, they had to remove asbestos from the L-shaped attic room before they could reveal its beautiful wood beams in the roofline. The charming discovery inspired Hannah to go whimsical with the theme, landing on a fabric inspired by Aesop’s fables depicting peacocks, tigers, and horses for the bench seating, cushions, and blind to create a cocoonlike feel.

Hannah’s renovation of the property, which spanned exterior updates and landscaping, incites knocks on her door from appreciative passers-by on a weekly basis. “It’s really gratifying, and quite funny, that people are so keen to ask about part of it or tell you what they think,” she says. It might have taken three years, but she proved the naysayers wrong.