Images courtesy of Jethro Marshall
By Rohini Wahi
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: retreat to the 1960s
Perhaps more Palm Springs getaway than typical Dorset retreat, the Garden House Studio, a retro holiday let in picturesque Lyme Regis, is a small but perfectly formed throwback to the 1960s. Furnished with a covetable host of mid century ceramics, textiles and furniture, the twist is that practically everything, from the 1950s sofa to the stoneware breakfast bowls, in this holiday let is also for sale.
Nestled within the one-acre grounds of Jethro Marshall’s and Vanessa Barlow’s 1960s architect designed house, the Garden House Studio is a charming single storey, open-plan space. Reflecting the couple’s love of rummaging in markets and car boot sales, the studio is furnished with a beautiful selection of mid century pieces sourced in the UK, Denmark, Holland and Germany.
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: vintage shopping while you stay
Having moved to their Dorset home four years ago, the couple wanted to make the most of the space by creating a business project that was local, self-sufficient and fed their passion for design. Jethro and Vanessa, both from fashion and marketing backgrounds, came up with the innovative ‘try and buy’ concept, where visitors can take away a piece of the retro holiday let with them.
Vanessa says, “Everything is for sale, which allows us the opportunity to do some vintage shopping, plus it gives the studio a uniquely personal feel. Those visitors who haven’t before experienced living with a mid century interior have been really impressed; it’s definitely challenged some perceptions of the period.”
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: the architecture
The Garden House studio was originally a stand-alone outbuilding that the couple used as an office and they spent six months painstakingly renovating and decorating it to echo the architecture of their own house.
“Our home was designed by Howard Mitchell and built in 1964”, explains Vanessa, “It’s a single storey building of a modernist style with lots of glass, brick and timber. It has large sliding aluminium-framed windows and floating decks at either end. For stylistic continuity its full-length glass windows are mirrored in the studio, as are the timber clad exterior walls and the floating deck.”
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: interior inspired by Terence Conran
In terms of design, Jethro and Vanessa have stuck to key interior themes in their retro holiday let – a striking base of timber, black and white. “Our taste has always led us toward simplicity and charismatic minimalism with our love of post-war American, European and British design.”
“Ideas for the interior came largely from vintage reference books – in particular The House Book by Terence Conran, which was published in 1974 and is an amazing source of ideas that still feel contemporary today!”
Clever interior design and the open plan arrangement of the 5x6m space utilises every inch of the studio. The generous windows let in soft seaside light and maximise the feeling of space. Stow-away beds, a wood-burning stove, a kitchenette (with all mod cons), a wet room and a generous decked area lend the air of being tucked away in a cosy Scandinavian log cabin.
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: mid century furniture
The Garden House studio currently boasts a chocolate brown Italian 1950s sofa, a Dutch Rietveld ’67 easy chair, a British 1960s Ercol folding dining table, a set of Danish Arne Jacobsen ’51 Grand Prix dining chairs, 1960s Tomado shelving from Holland, a1962 Barbara Brown Heal’s textile, an Otl Aicher 1972 Munich Olympics Poster and mid century style stoneware by local potters.
Despite it’s size, this retro holiday let provides a family-friendly living experience: a compact and colourful children’s nook, complete with vintage toys and graphic wallpaper, boasts a small fold-down kids bed, and bright melamine tableware is stacked in the kitchen cupboards. The space in The Garden House Studio is also ideal for couples looking for a romantic break, with vintage Welsh blankets that drape the sofa for cosy winter evenings in front of the wood burner.
A Retro Holiday Let in Dorset: special place for a break
A sleek contrast to its rugged surroundings, this retro holiday let is located about a mile from the beautiful seaside town of Lyme Regis. A 25-minute amble following the river through the old town to the seafront leads you to the fabulous Jurassic coastline of south-west Dorset, famous for its Cobb and harbour, immortalised in John Fowles’ classic novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
So, why would holidaymakers choose to spend their seaside break in a retro 1960s pre-fab, rather than a quaint stone cottage? “I think people are much more interested in design now”, says Vanessa, “they expect a certain level of quality in their surroundings – quaint cottages have their place, but too many people follow formulas, especially in the West Country, and self catering accommodation has become staid. We hope the studio has a personality, and that people can take a piece of that away with them. The ambition is to create a series of interesting, loved, charismatic holiday properties that offer something unique to a modern visitor.”
For further details, to check availability or to book, click here
For ideas on things to do in the area, go to My Jurassic Coast
For more on Dutch mid century furniture, see our Buyer’s Guide
For more on British Ercol furniture, see our article Ercol: Insights into a British Brand