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How I Brought Californian Style to North Devon With Casa Paloma

by Georgie Roberts

Founder and creative director of Wanderlust Life Jewellery, Georgie Roberts, shares her thoughts on how she transformed a bungalow into a mid-century Californian style beach-house, Casa Paloma, on North Devon’s beautiful Atlantic coast. Plus, she shares her five tips for the perfect weekend in North Devon, including her favourite swim spots.

My earliest travel memory is going on holiday to Ibiza with my parents and twin sister when we were five. I remember drinking pineapple juice poolside, loving the sun and the sense of adventure. I’ve loved travel ever since, the sense of perspective that it gives you and how it allows you to tap out of the day-to-day and clear all the mental clutter.

For years I worked in hospitality at the beach in North Devon, and one of the benefits was going away travelling every winter. I had a really great holiday in Mexico where I’d managed to totally hit pause. It gave me some space to think about what I really wanted to do, and on the aeroplane coming back, I amalgamated all those ideas onto a piece of paper that formulated the launch of Wanderlust Life. 

With the brand turning 10 this year, I use travel in my life all the time now to spark big inspirations. Of course, during lockdown going places wasn’t possible, so I did what everyone did – saw the world from the screen of my phone. One day I was scrolling and I saw a house for sale at the other end of our village with a big palm tree in the front and a mono-pitch roof. It reminded me of a mid-century California bungalow. Before I’d even stepped through the door I knew I needed to do something with it. I’d almost signed on the dotted line before I’d seen it.

My partner Scott is a carpenter – we met at the bottom of the stairs when I was renovating the house we now live in together, so we got to know each other over cups of coffee and planks of wood. When we started on the bungalow project, we were quite brave and ripped out the ceiling to expose the mono-pitch from the inside. We knocked several boxy spaces together to create a big vaulted open-plan room. 

We wanted it to feel like Palm Springs in North Devon, so outside we put in a series of mid-height walls to partition lots of different living spaces and worked with a landscape designer to create an arid California-style environment. From the back garden, you can see the sand dunes and feel the sea breeze rolling across the beach at Saunton Sands.

A lot of the properties we were referencing had cool swimming pools, so we used that as inspiration in the bathroom by using some really fun tiles that mimic that lap pool feel. In the kitchen, we wanted to find a super interesting custom veneer to work with, and we eventually decided on London plane. The grain is incredible and it has this warmth and texture that we love.

The house – which we christened Casa Paloma – was ready in time to welcome visitors seeking refuge from the pandemic. The West Country is so breathtaking, and I love being able to share that holiday feeling with people. Even a staycation can help you switch off and get your brain into a new place where sparks of inspiration can fly. 

Our current project is a different kind of living space altogether, a 32ft 1970s sailing yacht that Scott has been restoring. It’s kept near Falmouth so about two hours' drive from home. The great thing about sailing is that it’s so dependent on the conditions, so we have to be really spontaneous and literally see where the wind takes us. 

We’ve been enjoying the chance to explore new environments. In the same way that travel served me when I started my jewellery brand, getting away on the boat gives me that sense of pause. A lot of times we can’t pick up any internet or signal, so it’s a good digital detox. You have to stay in the present moment, and quite often I find that’s where great ideas spring from.

Georgie‘s Hidden Gems: A guide to the perfect weekend on the Atlantic Coast

  1. Start with a coffee and doughnut at Heartbreak Hotel in Braunton, just a short stroll away from the Wanderlust Life store.
  1. Go for a wild swim at Broadsands, Watermouth — an out-of-the-way swim spot accessed via 200 steps or rent a kayak.
  1. Book some healthy hedonism at the stunning Source Spa with views over the dunes, part of the Saunton Sands Hotel. 
  1. A wonderful independent and ‘intimate modern picture palace’, showing films seven days a week, Lynton Cinema. 
  1. Take a boat trip and visit two atmospheric villages on the Appledore to Instow ferry, running from April to October and tide dependent.