She Spies Retro Futurism By The Seashore- My Favourite House in Portstewart


Houses like these make my heart soar. Just look at that staircase in the long, completely glazed hall. Look at that totally impractical reverse pitched roof. I always have to slow down to ogle this home when I'm driving past to get to the Portstewart Strand.

I did a little poking about online and found some info on Alan In Belfast's blog. In a post dated 2006, he shares a little history of the building, which he is next door to. The two photos below are his, and show the house in disrepair a decade ago. However the building is listed, and rather than be demolished for apartments, like so many old plots along the coast, today sees it as in the photo above. It's inhabited and all fixed up.


Alan's investigation found that the reason for its listed status was not the architecture alone, but the large outdoor mosaic adorning the front of the building. It's a piece by the Irish artist Colin Middleton, one of the few surrealists of the early part of the last century hailing from our island. He was heavily influenced by Van Gogh, and spent the latter part of his life living in Bangor, where I'm from.


The story of how this particular piece of his came to be is an interesting one. The story goes that Middleton had been staying in a house in Portstewart, but didn't have enough money to pay for his board, so he designed this mosaic to pay his way.

The architect of my dream house, Noel Campbell, also commissioned Middleton to create a mosaic for a home he designed in Ballymena, Scandia, seen below. 


Another of Noel Campbell's houses is just round the corner from Portstewart Strand, Little Rock, on Larkhill Road, below.


But my heart belongs to the Strand Road beauty!