How interior design is breathing fresh life into St Ives properties

Words by Lucy Cornes

Take a look behind the doors of some of St Ives’ prime properties and you are likely to find fresh, stylish spaces packed with visual interest and quirky vintage items. Designer Kerry Knight of Beatengreen is the force behind the renovation of private homes and holiday rentals that is sweeping this picturesque Cornish town, creating a series of unique interiors which make ideal bases for exploring the artistic haven that is St Ives.

One recent example is the renovation of the town’s Old Police Station. Purchased in May 2014 by Chris and Jo Russell, this large house in a central location was a dream come true for the couple, who had been holidaying in St Ives for 14 years. “We had fallen in love with the town and wanted our own base there. We looked for somewhere central but tucked away, with enough space for our family and friends to come and stay,” explained Chris. “We also wanted to offer The Old Police Station as a luxury holiday let, and were really keen to create a memorable space for our guests.”

Kerry had to turn her plans into reality quickly in order to get the property ready for the summer season. She started work as soon as Chris and Jo had the keys. “I like to approach every new design completely from scratch,” Kerry explains. “Each interior is unique rather than simply an evolution of any one style. I try to find the old soul of a house and work to enhance those period features, while incorporating fresh and innovative products and materials. I particularly like the juxtaposition of old and new – a lot of my projects are about playing with the balance between the two.”

Kerry and her partner Matt spend time trawling auction houses to pick up original items, which are lovingly restored before being given new homes. Kerry sources unusual decorative items or soft furnishings online, uses local tradesmen and works with an upholsterer to bring chairs and other items back to life, matching them with the overall scheme.

“The brief for The Old Police Station was ‘light and airy, but interesting and fun with an emphasis on quality’. The challenge was narrowing my ideas to a cohesive style that could be continued throughout the house, as the owners were very open-minded and liked a broad range of styles,” said Kerry. “Once I have the concept for the property right, it’s a matter of bringing all these elements together – from quirky coat hooks to textiles which enhance the design scheme in each room.”

Kerry uses online tools such as Pinterest to share and develop ideas with clients. “Like Chris and Jo, home-owners often live a long way away, so creating interactive design boards is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track,” Kerry explains. It’s an approach which obviously works for the client too. “Sharing visual inspiration online was a huge success and both increased our productivity and design co-ordination and resulted in the beautiful properties that we have today,” commented Chris.

Kerry is finding her service is particularly in demand from other holiday home owners, who, like Chris and Jo, want to offer their guests something a little different. “St Ives is known for its visual beauty and creative spirit,” said Claire Gilbert, managing partner at St Ives letting agency The Cottage Boutique. “When people come to stay here they want their surroundings to reflect that. Using an interior designer can really make a holiday property stand out, offering an individual style in a market where people have a lot of choice.”


For more information, contact Kerry Knight on 07796 030232 or visit

The Old Police Station is let through The Cottage Boutique: