A Twenties cinema perched on the Scottish coast made a studio most artists only dream of, says Lesley Gillilan
If you combed the coast of Britain, it would be hard to find a more stunning contemporary beach-house than the Sealoft in Kinghorn, Fife, and just as hard to find owners more dedicated to seaside life or the marine-theme aesthetic. The Sealoft, home and studio of Scottish artists Liz Ogilvie and Bob Callender, is a converted Twenties cinema of big-screen proportions perched on a cliff overlooking Kinghorn's beach and harbour and the Firth of Forth. The omnipresent sea vista, dotted with passing ships and the occasional school of dolphins, is enhanced by a wall of windows, installed during the conversion.

White canvas chairs and simple wooden furniture - some made by Callender from salvaged driftwood - form islands in oceans of open-plan space. There is something of the ship's galley in the stainless steel industrial kitchen; something of the cruising passenger liner in the cut of the white-painted building's decked and glazed profile.

Whether its the ebb and flow of a gentle tide, the waves lashing at rocks in a storm, a chorus of seagulls or a faint whiff of mackerel and seaweed, the couple are always aware of the sounds and smells of the sea. "The building is steel-framed and when it's blowing a gale outside, it shakes and shudders like the bridge of a tanker," says Callender. Meanwhile, the rattle of glasses and gin bottles in their aluminium drinks trolley, echoes scenes from the Titanic.

Both artists are sea dogs to their roots. They have a second home in a coastal stone bothy - "a driftwood space" - in West Sutherland and their separate works are heavily influenced by Scotland's rugged coastal environment.

Ogilvie was brought up on the island of St Kilda. Her most recent body of work, "Oceanus", is inspired by the "reflective qualities of the sea's surface" and includes large architectural walls of aluminium and sandblasted glass, pumped with blue-dyed water and etched with poetry ("the ocean horizon traces the line of infinity" etc). Current experiments with wave machines have required collaboration with an "oceanographer".

Callender has spent a lifetime shifting around the northern Scottish coast and the source of inspiration for his Sea Salvage pieces is "the sea and the man-made vessels involved in maritime business that ride on its surface or become dashed into wrecks by its power". The work entitled "Boiler", a circle of what looks like a heavy piece of rusted and riveted iron, is made of cardboard, paper and paint. He uses the same ephemeral materials to create sculptural arrangements of artefacts found on the beach - fragments of ship-wrecked boats, cracked rudders, rusted enamelware, tins, buckets and spades and washed up boots and shoes.

When the couple bought Kingborn's run-down Regal cinema eight years ago - and virtually rebuilt the place - it was the 10,000sq ft building's potential as a work space that attracted them. And the former auditorium is now an enormous solar-heated studio. The sprung maple floor is a legacy of the Regal's latter days as a dance hall. "The living areas are subservient to the studio," says Callender.

The functional upper floor features white walls, wood floors, misty white muslim drapes and exposed structural steelwork. Furniture is minimal and supplemented by a few of Callender's painted boat carcasses, model yachts and a canoe in the bedroom.

The Sealoft, takes open plan warehouse living to the Scottish coast and reflects the sophisticated end of nautical style. More boathouse, barnacles and chandlery than gaudy beach hut and shell-encrusted bottle lamps, it's a look that is inspired by the colours and textures of natural seascapes and gritty realism of maritime industry. This is encapsulated in two new home-style books. Judith Miller's Wooden Houses, published later this month by Ryland, Peters & Small, presents sea-view interiors furnished with maritime maps, coils of rope, wall-hung oars and flying seagulls on ship-lapped walls, colour-washed in sky-blue or bleached white.

In Seaside House (Ebury Press), Jerome Darblay and Alexandra D'Arnoux explore a series of interiors, mostly American, furnished with bunk beds, lobster pots, rope hammocks, telescopes and boat propellers, shelves laden with pebbles and shells, blue and white pottery and wooden seabirds. Paint- treated woodwork simulates the cracked and peeling surface of an old boat that has endured years of salt-water erosion, while natural pine panelling has the look of a ship's cabin.

There is no substitute for living by the sea, but you can add touches of marine atmosphere to your inland home with a few seaside souvenirs - and the best buys are found in the chandlers of salty fishing harbours rather than the seafront gift shops of coastal resorts. A recent trawl around the shops of Fowey, a clay mining port and marina in Cornwall, revealed supplies of rope and canvas, nets and fishing tackle, hurricane lamps and variously-sized model yachts complete with mini rigging and sails. The local antique shops proved a good source of old maps, marine paintings, postcards and binoculars. Scavengers on the beach can also unearth the odd decorative treasure among the rubbishy tide-lines of lost flip-flops and plastic bottles. Look out for ammonites, pretty pebbles, shapely pieces of driftwood and rusted ironwork.

The bathroom is perhaps the best home space in which to effect a pretence of seaside life. Line surfaces with tongue and groove panelling and slap on a wash of lime white, blue-green or sandy yellow paint. Strip the floorboards and paint them, too. Sprinkle shelves with shells, ships-in-bottles and chipped, white enamelware; hang old, tinted postcards of sea-haven resorts, navigation maps and rope-wrapped mirrors on the walls. Add aquamarine oils to your bath water and you're home and away. All you need is a tape recording of screeching gulls and water slapping against harbour walls, and you could be in St Ives.

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