Take a sneak peek at this French inspired Aldeburgh seaside home
PUBLISHED: 09:04 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:46 29 May 2018
Creativity runs in Natalie Hullett Burrows' family and she's used it to perfection at her French inspired Aldeburgh home. Words and images by Tony Hall
Meeting Natalie Hullett Burrows at La Ronessa, her seaside home in the centre of Aldeburgh, one road back from the sea, was great fun. Natalie, a bubbly, experienced and talented fashion and interiors stylist has worked for many of the top studios and clients over the years, and shares a similar background to my own. We had a really good natter, reminiscing about the good old days and what fun they were.
Natalie comes from a very creative family background. Her dad – originally a model who featured as the Marlborough Man in ads of the day – owns and runs Havershams Interior Design Company. Her mum also worked in fashion and interior design, so it was no surprise that Natalie’s seaside home is a picture of stylish elegance.
Natalie was born and brought up in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. After school she worked at Woburn Studios as a photographic assistant, which led to her becoming a fashion stylist.
“In those days, the two big studio groups were Woburn and Carlton,” she explains. “Both had several photographic studios under one roof, doing fashion, food, still-life and interiors. Several times a year teams would take off to photograph fashion at locations around the Mediterranean.
“My first work trip was to Marbella, Spain, as a stylist. I loved every moment, meeting people, seeing wonderful places and all the excitement of the photo-shoots. I also went to locations in Portugal, Italy and South of France, all of which I still love to this day.”
Natalie’s job was to dress and accessorise the models, ensuring the garments looked their finest in front of the camera. After five years she went freelance, working for M&S and Debenhams. She’s even brought a photo crew to Suffolk for an advertising shoot at her house.
Marriage to her husband, Giles, who works in the City of London, brought Natalie to Aldeburgh 15 years ago. His parents had a summer house in the town, so holidays were always spent there.
“I loved the place, immediately, what’s not to like?” she says. “We were fortunate to find this former Victorian fisherman’s cottage in 2009, a good solid house, at the end of town we liked, near the sailing club.” Natalie and Giles undertook major renovation, opening up the rooms and adding kitchen/dining areas, but keeping all the period details, such as the lovely fireplaces and high ceilings.
“When it came to the interior decoration I was in my element. Having seen so many lovely locations over the years I’ve picked up ideas. On my travels I take a bit from everywhere and have collected many interesting artefacts, for here and my home in Chelsea, which is also used for location shoots.” In more recent years Natalie has done a lot of interior design styling for clients.
“I am continually visiting the big antique fairs, such as Ardingley and Newark, besides buying trips to French brocante markets searching out special items. My wish list here, was open plan light, spacious interiors, white and bright, naturally with a strong French and seaside holiday theme, rather like the houses you see on the Ile de Re. Everything has worked out as intended.” And the name of the cottage, La Ronessa? A discarded sign Natalie found on a fashion shoot, in a crumbling old house in Italy.
Since living in Aldeburgh, Giles has introduced Natalie to sailing.
“I was petrified to begin, having never been part of a crew, but now my confidence is building. The family owns a Cornish shrimper 19, called Unicorn, which we keep on a mooring off the Aldeburgh Yacht Club, and we love exploring the Alde and Ore rivers. The wind in your hair, a totally new perspective of the land, feeling you have achieved something, plus sheer freedom.
“No sooner do we arrive in Aldeburgh than our troubles disappear, getting away from the hassles of London. Our home here is relaxing and stylish, but an added bonus is the great walks I do with our labradoodle, Kitty, either along the beach or the river wall onto the Sailors Path, just looking at the beautiful surrounding nature.
“My favourite room has to be the living/dining/kitchen, which is so calming, and my favourite item the boat on the console, which my dad gave me. With so many good places to eat on our doorstep it’s hard to choose a favourite, but I think The Lighthouse, who always look after us, or maybe Saturday lunch at the new East Coast Cafe – crab salad and some rosé wine.”
“Aldeburgh has a little bit of everything close at hand. Traditional English seaside, it’s equally wonderful in winter and our home is a vision of light – an oasis of calm, full of charm. You could say it’s ‘Natalie’s World’!
“If we ever drag ourselves away from here for a day out, we love Orford and the Butley Oysterage. Or going the other way, coffee at Darsham Nursery/Garden Centre and then on to Sole Bay Fish Restaurant on the harbour at Southwold for lunch.
“For my next big trip in the boat, which I am really looking forward to, we are hoping to go up to Snape Maltings, tie up and see the shops. Being able to combine my fashion photoshoots, with my interior design while in this lovely county of Suffolk, in such a complete spot as Aldeburgh, really has been the icing on the cake – white, naturally.”
La Ronessa at Aldeburgh is available for holiday rental through Suffolk Secrets tel: 01502 722717 www.suffolksecrets.
Contacted Natalie for fashion styling, interior design, and film/TV/photographic location at her homes in Aldeburgh and Chelsea www.natalieburrows.co.uk or through Carol Hayes Management www.carolhayesmanagement.co.uk tel: 0207 4821555