Cabana on the Sand

Inspired by the freewheeling energy of Goa, India, a fashion designer creates a seaside retreat where most of the living takes place outdoors

French fashion designer Laurence Doligé's bungalow in Goa, India.
French fashion designer Laurence Doligé's bungalow in Goa, India.
Designer Laurence Doligé.
Designer Laurence Doligé.

French native Laurence Doligé has called the Indian capital of New Delhi home for the last 10 years, but frequent outings to the beach led her to put down roots (and open shop) in the coastal enclave of Goa. Guided by the easygoing style that defines her clothing collections—as well as the tropical territory—Doligé carved out a home in the sand. Literally. Other than the simple, hutlike structure that houses her bedroom and bath, the living spaces, including seating and dining areas and a kitchen, are all plein air. Furnishings are left natural or painted in unifying black, and the minimal architectural detailing hews emphatically toward the rustic—floors of poured concrete, for example, and a ceiling and walls of woven bamboo.

The restrained palette, however, has the slightest European lilt. “India is known for pink, yellow, and shiny colors,” says Doligé, “but I love black and white.” The combination reminds her of the graphic tiled floors of European castles and of her own childhood home in France. It also adds a modern note to balance the organic forms, and, according to the designer, “goes beautifully with the green of the trees.” After all, when the majority of your home is outdoors, palm fronds—not paint chips—define the decor. 

1. Counter the Culture Doligé’s dominant black-and-white palette, inspired by her European upbringing, looks particularly striking in an environment of lush greenery, bright colors, and harsh sunlight.

2. Personalize Your Purchases The natural-cane hanging lanterns were bought at a local market. The designer painted them black to make them more cohesive with the rest of her compound.

Cabana on the Sand
Cabana on the Sand
The outdoor kitchen and dining area of Doligé's compound.
The outdoor kitchen and dining area of Doligé's compound.

3. Entertain Like a Hunter-Gatherer Use palm leaves as place mats for a rustic yet on-trend tablescape. You can also layer them across the length of the surface as a runner, beneath simple vignettes of flowers, fruit, and other found objects.

I love the mood and light and mist of the [summer] season.

–laurence doligé

4. Create a Crisp Moment The white piping on the cushions of the dining benches and porch adds just a touch of tailoring to the otherwise slouchy aesthetic.

5. Incorporate Local Elements The kitchen is made of Kharrapa, a stone native to India. “When you put coconut oil on it, it turns jet black,” explains Doligé.

The bedroom and dressing area evoke a latter-day hippie-chic sensibility.
The bedroom and dressing area evoke a latter-day hippie-chic sensibility.
Cabana on the Sand
Cabana on the Sand

6. Add Interest with Texture Inside, the cabana’s woven bamboo walls become an atmospheric, light-filtering backdrop. Try grass-cloth curtains or a rattan screen for a similar effect.

7. Go with the Rumpled Look  Washed-linen bedding feels luxuriously cool in hot weather and only gets better over time. In a laid-back setting, embrace its homespun sensibility and don’t bother ironing out the wrinkles.

8. Use Nature to Nurture A nod to your surroundings can be as literal as a plant motif pulled from the backyard. Here, the Pierre Frey palm-print curtain echoes the fronds outside—but in Doligé’s preferred palette.

9. Call on a Higher Power Goa has a rich tradition of blending cultures. In the bedroom, a statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha sits beside a glass-and-wood lantern that was once at home in a church.

A porch with built-in seating functions as an alternate living room.
A porch with built-in seating functions as an alternate living room.

10. Bring the Indoors Out Whether strewn on the sand or marking a path on the front porch, black hide rugs add a boho air to alfresco spaces. (In climates that are less predictable, use them as occasional decorative elements rather than leaving them exposed to the elements.)

"This is what you find on the beach in Goa—all the shops provide a little shaded area," says Doligé of her boutique&squot;s shaded retreat.
"This is what you find on the beach in Goa—all the shops provide a little shaded area," says Doligé of her boutique's shaded retreat.

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