Meet Laurence Smith and Sharon Boyse-Smith, owners of The Art Deco House UK, a spectacular 6 bedroom clifftop property with stunning sea views and many original features, in Shanklin, Isle of Wight.
What first inspired you to create Art Deco House UK as holiday accommodation?
Sharon was on a cheap holiday with one of her girlfriends and staying in Shanklin. To get a cheaper ferry fare she was travelling back on Tuesday. While bored she browsed properties for sale and The Art Deco House UK (then called Marine Villa) was there. With no real intent to buy anything, she and her friend arranged to go visit the house and it was love at first sight!
She called me (Laurence) and I reminded her we were not actually looking for a house. After some persuasion, I travelled alone to see the property. The thought Sharon had was that this could be our retirement home.
I loved the house, it was then being marketed as a party house, full of bunk beds, and not very successful! At the time, I was a Business Development specialist for IBM and so I got my spreadsheet up and running on the way home. I looked at the prices of possible competitors, worked out the expected costs and mortgage and I was sure we could at least break even.
Then having cashed in all our savings, borrowed money from my grown up children, and found some obscure Building Society prepared to give us a mortgage, we bought the house.
Have you always been in hospitality? If not, what else did / do you do?
I (Laurence) had spent my entire career in the IT industry, but latterly in Business Development in IT. These days though, beside running the business and marketing side of the Art Deco House UK, I also run my youngest son’s UK YouTube editing business, since my son moved to Los Angeles as Editor to one of the top YouTube stars. I am also with the Met Police as a Special Constable!
Sharon has been in the Music Industry since leaving education and is a Senior Exec. in a major company in the Music Publishing industry. Sharon also is a licensee, as her passion (after The Art Deco House UK and Laurence of course, not sure in what order) is wine. She has a large personal collection of wines, including many in bond and personally selects the magnums of champagne and wine that are available at the Art Deco HouseUK. The wine business is a real passion, but the prices they charge are such that in the P&L, there is not a lot of P – however, the sampling makes that side of the business still worth continuing.
What’s the best thing about being the owner of Art Deco House UK?
Knowing that one day this is our retirement home. Our business model is that whatever profits we make, we keep in the house and continue taking it back to the glamour and splendour of the 1930s. We are always buying original furniture or things that simply work well in the house. It is our home, and we hope our guests feel that way when they stay.
What’s your favourite feature of the house?
The arch stained glass windows in the Master Bedroom that you can see the wonderful sunrises over the bay (above). Also the uninterrupted panoramic views from the upstairs Sun Room out to sea (below). The views are even more spectacular if holding a cocktail at the time.
What do you love about the Art Deco era, and are there any other styles you particularly like?
Cool, clean lines, geometry and colours. Attention to detail and the atmosphere it creates. Sharon also loves mid-century modern styles and used to live in a stylish 1960s house with a central spiral staircase for many years. Our residential home today has parts that date back to 1760 and is famous for once being the home of Eleanor Thornton who was the model for the Spirit of Ecstasy, the statuette that adorns the bonnet of every Rolls Royce Car and a one metre high Spirit of Ecstasy statue now appears in our hallway at home.
What’s next for Art Deco House UK?
Continual refurbishment and redecoration by master decorators including the fifth year of renovations by hand of the stained glass windows by a company that usually works on church windows. We insist that all work is done by contractors on the Isle of Wight as we feel that the Island economy is very important to support and are proud to be part of.
But if you are coming, come soon, as the current plan is 2026 we will be retiring to the house ourselves!
If you couldn’t stay at your place, where would your ideal holiday be?
Palm Springs, in California, where mid-century modern architecture prevails. We have yet to get to Napier in New Zealand, famous for Art Deco everywhere and their vinyards of course, but it is on our bucket list.
Sum up Art Deco House UK in three words
Iconic, glamorous, spectacular
If you were visiting, how would you spend a day at Art Deco House UK?
Having left the sea facing curtains open overnight, watching the sun rise while still in bed in the Master Bedroom. Then get everyone together and all hands on deck to prepare a wonderful cooked breakfast. Next go for a walk together along the cliff top and maybe lunch somewhere then return to the house for lots of games. As the evening approaches, cocktails in the upstairs Sunroom looking out to sea, with Glen Miller playing thoughout the house on the Sonos system. Then down to dinner, probably getting dressed up, with dinner made perfectly by our preferred Chef, Kevin using Isle of Wight produce. Some wonderful wines and then a murder mystery game and even if we never find whodunit, we probably will have had a bit more wine while trying. Retiring to bed, fulfilled, and again, leaving those sea facing curtains open, sweet dreams. – Repeat.
Find out more about The Art Deco House UK via their Host Unusual listing, and plan your dream escape today!