July 14, 2024

Architectural Design Kingdom

Home is where the heart is

A Stylish 1970s Coastal Home Renovation In West Sussex

5 min read

A desire to try coastal living led Lesley Mair to buy her first seaside house in East Wittering in West Sussex in 2015. Then, having completely fallen in love with it, she decided she wanted a home right on the beach, facing the sea. ‘Luckily, one of my closest friends had bought this property, which they rented to me,’ she explains. In 2020 she persuaded them to sell it to her – then began a long renovation.

‘When I bought this house, it had three bedrooms, two of which were downstairs and one was very damp and dark. Also downstairs were a bathroom and tiny shower room,’ remembers Lesley. ‘Upstairs there was one bedroom, a loo, a compact kitchen and living room plus a balcony. The ceilings were low, typical of a house built in the 1970s, and the hall was quite narrow, which I really wasn’t keen on – it somehow made everything feel small. But what sold the house to me was the amazing view.’

blue kitchen with wooden panelling on wallspinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook

Inspiration for the renovation, both inside and out, was the property’s location on the seafront – and the light. ‘I had a great architect, Angus Eitel from 50.8 Architecture and Interiors,’ says Lesley. ‘My brief to him was to open everything up as much as possible.’ As a result, the house was extended on the north side and the balcony extended on the south to bring in the maximum amount of light and a feeling of space. Lesley also had the roof lifted to construct a vaulted ceiling and, by moving the staircase and relocating a bedroom to the new-build annexe outside, was able to create an airy, open-plan room upstairs and a larger entranceway downstairs.

blue kitchen in coastal home with wooden floorboards and white wallspinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook
Lesley enjoys chatting to guests while she cooks, so she opted for an open-plan layout. Muuto Linear light, Beut. Bar stools, John Lewis & Partners

The new, much bigger balcony is now a great ‘outside in’ entertainment area that works especially well when the doors are wide open in the summer. And thanks to the more expansive floor plan, Lesley was able to relocate the dark downstairs bedroom to the east side of the house, making it a much brighter room. ‘I’ve still got four bedrooms, but now each one has an ensuite bathroom and they’re all lovely and light,’ she says.

living room with two traditional style sofas in soft blue and grey and decorated with striped cushionspinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook
Sofas and cushions in shades of blue make for a restful atmosphere, reflecting the hues of the sky and sea. Glass table lamp, Cox & Cox. Sofas, Loaf

As a result of making so many changes, nothing really survived from the original house except the east wall – everything else was knocked down and re-built by London and County Construction. ‘It turned into a significantly bigger project than I’d originally envisioned when I bought this place,’ recalls Lesley. Importantly, rather than turning it into a show home, she wanted somewhere that she and her dogs could enjoy, and where she could easily accommodate and entertain friends and family.

open plan living room with wooden floors and sofa in soft greypinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook
The Paris print is ‘a real treasure’ as it was a gift from colleagues. Flooring, The Main Company

For the interiors, Lesley was keen to create an understated, uncluttered look with a Scandi feel, and found herself scouring magazines and websites for inspiration. ‘I’d moved here from a more cottage-style house, so decided to have mostly new furnishings,’ she says. ‘But I’ve brought a few treasured possessions with me – books, pictures and photographs, my dad’s Victorian-style chair, my school desk and a glass-fronted cabinet my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day in 1989.

coastal bedroom with timber clad walls overlooking the seapinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook

The inspiration for the painted plank wall came from a house Lesley had seen in Cornwall. Her father’s chair sits by the window

‘I’m lucky that my best friend Lynne Pearson is a genius interior designer and she gave me an enormous amount of guidance,’ continues Lesley. ‘She helped me plan the layout and room designs and choose paint colours, furniture, soft furnishings and lighting. She also introduced me to The Main Company, which built my kitchen and dining table and supplied all the beautiful wood for the floors. I love the colour blue so chose this for the units, and the tactile wooden floors were really worth the investment.’

pale white bedroom in a 1970s coastal homepinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook

The timber clad wall evokes a coastal feel complemented by a seascape painting by local artist Sheila Threadgill

Lesley also wanted a pretty and productive outside space. ‘I’m a gardener – I love it,’ she says. ‘When I lived in London I had a large garden and an even bigger allotment.’ The sea air, however, isn’t ideal when it comes to growing plants, so another challenge for Lesley was to create flower and vegetable beds on the protected north side of the house. Now they provide a lovely outlook for the annexe and the non-sea-facing third bedroom.

beachside garden overlooking the seapinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook

A garden swing and benches offer more seating options closer on the beach

‘The whole house works really well now,’ concludes Lesley. ‘In fact, I love everything about my home. I’ve got the view, the space, the spare bedrooms that allow me to have overnight guests and I’m very lucky that they like to visit. And I love to entertain. In fact, that’s why I treated myself to a huge dining table. My favourite thing is having a big group of family or friends here eating, drinking, relaxing and having a good time.’

coastal garden with balconypinterest
The Main Company, Chris Snook

With the extended balcony and a garden that spreads onto the beach front, Leslie’s home provides plenty of opportunity for basking in the sun

For more information, visit maincompany.com, and see Lynne Pearson’s website at camouflagecollections.com

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Headshot of Carolyn Bailey

Carolyn is Homes and Gardens Director at Good Housekeeping. She is constantly on the look-out for the latest interiors trends and new products to share on the news pages of the magazine. You will also find her visiting houses and gardens up and down the country to feature in each issue. Carolyn loves to spend her free time pottering in her garden, going on long coastal walks and visiting West End theatres. 


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