Beach glam
Livingetc India|September 2020
From the outside, Eloise and Alex’s cottage, flanked by performing seals, sings old-school charm; inside it’s high-octane glamour all the way
Nell Carb

Taxidermy is the one thing we don’t fully agree on,’ says Eloise Markwell-Butler of her husband Alex Hardee’s decorative taste. In the couple’s en suite, an albino lioness stands sentinel. ‘We decided he could have one piece in here, but then I flooded the bathroom,’ she recalls. ‘We ran up here, picked her up and put her on the bed to dry her paws.’ It’s a scene that goes some way to depicting the couple’s life in their unusually glamorous second home on the coast, which now includes a standing polar bear in the dining room.

LIVING AREA

A floor-to-ceiling display wall corrals the couple’s curios, including vintage coral pieces, taxidermy crabs, and domed birds and butterflies.

The cottage, situated near the White Cliffs of Dover and a couple of miles from the genteel streets of Deal, is separated from the shingle beach by a narrow footpath. With no main roads, and the beach just outside, the appeal for a London-based family with two young boys is abundantly clear.

KITCHEN

Most of the appliances are hidden behind wood panelling. ‘I tell guests, if you can’t find something, just push a wall,’ says Eloise.

The cottage the couple purchased in 2016 was one of two timber-framed structures (its twin still stands next door) that arrived here in sections from Whitstable in 1830. The buildings were assembled for boatmen who were surveying Goodwin Sands, a sandbank 10 kilometres out to sea. Though dark and divided into many small rooms, the picture-postcard exterior and late Georgian features gave the house an unmistakable charm that – despite major remodelling – remains intact.

DINING ROOM

The iridescent wallpaper is hand-painted. Originally, I had a different wallpaper in here,’ says Eloise, ‘but it was far too psychedelic: it looked like a Magic Eye poster.’

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