How we remodelled our 1950s semi in Kent into a bright and breezy beach house

3 days ago 15

In 2018, architects Sonya Flynn and Mark Baker had conscionable finished remodelling a large, 1970s location connected a northbound Kent seafront for a lawsuit erstwhile a smaller location down the roadworthy came connected the market. During the project, they had fallen successful emotion with the location: the shingle beach, the uninterrupted oversea views and spectacular, year-round sunsets.

The unprepossessing 1950s semi successful Tankerton, Whitstable, hadn’t been touched for 25 years. The couple, who tally architecture workplace Meme, thought they could make a akin location for their ain family, lone connected a smaller budget.

Bare factual  blocks and jumbo terrazzo successful  the room  extension
Bare factual blocks and jumbo terrazzo successful the room extension Photograph: Jo Bridges/The Guardian

But Red Sands (the location is named aft a cluster of oversea forts built astatine the rima of the Thames estuary during the 2nd satellite warfare but present abandoned) went to a higher bidder. A fewer months later, Flynn and Baker were astir to speech connected a akin spot further from the oversea erstwhile the agents called and offered them a 2nd chance. The woody went done and the young household moved in.

The location is present unrecognisable from the dilapidated two-bed they bought 4 years ago. Partly inspired by formation houses successful Melbourne, it is clad successful a operation of larch and shou sugi ban (charred timber), with generous glazing to marque the astir of its narration with the sea.

The street-facing exterior of the location   was inspired by Australian formation  houses.
The street-facing exterior of the location was inspired by Australian formation houses. Photograph: Jo Bridges/The Guardian

“We travel the enactment of a fewer Melbourne and Sydney practices,” Flynn says. “We were inspired by their usage of worldly and texture, arsenic good arsenic however their houses subordinate to the beach. We wanted the frontage and landscaping to consciousness unfastened and relaxed. In the past, houses connected this seashore would not person been rather truthful unfastened to the oversea views due to the fact that of the weather, but we are amended equipped for that technically these days, truthful it felt important to marque the astir of them.”

As good arsenic keeping vestiges of the aged location (a deep-green snug astatine the front, for example), the mates person created agleam and bold caller spaces from exposed factual blocks and jumbo terrazzo tiles. Bespoke, oak-veneered joinery sits alongside modern artwork. Every inch has been made into thing either amusive oregon functional.

As soon arsenic they moved in, Flynn, who grew up successful Sligo, took the couple’s 2 children, Hannah, 10, and Hugo, eight, to Ireland for a mates of weeks truthful Baker could marque the location habitable. In that clip helium installed an aerial root vigor pump, knocked down walls and made a impermanent kitchen.

The household  dog, Rex, successful  the maestro  bedroom, which has been extended out.
The household dog, Rex, successful the maestro bedroom, which has been extended out. Photograph: Jo Bridges/The Guardian

Rather than determination the surviving abstraction upstairs arsenic they had done for the clients down the road, they decided to clasp the tiny surviving country astatine the beforehand of the house. The 70s hold (white-painted bricks and a timber-clad ceiling) inspired the materials for the caller hold (concrete blocks and oak-veneered birch ply).

On the crushed floor, the garages to 1 broadside of the crippled were transformed into a impermanent chamber down a wide sliding doorway disconnected the hallway. A yellowish bedewed country is down different sliding door. Further down the hallway is simply a roomy cupboard for coats/bags/shoes, and a inferior country with broadside entree to the plot and an outdoor ablution for usage aft a dip successful the sea.

Sonya with her children successful  the kitchen.
Sonya with her children successful the kitchen. Photograph: Jo Bridges/The Guardian

At the beforehand of the house, the snug, with wood-burner, leads to a wide corridor with built-in cabinets and a desk. From here, steps pb down into the caller rear extension, which is furnished with a vintage Ligne Roset sofa, a mid-century sideboard and a eating array with mismatched chairs. The acheronian room units are a canny operation of Ikea cabinets and bespoke joinery, and the worktop is ply, covered successful electric-blue Formica. Six-metre-wide sliding doors unfastened connected to a well-organised and productive plot (Eglu chickenhearted coop included).

Upstairs, determination are 3 bedrooms and a household bathroom, wherever astute joinery again makes usage of each disposable space. The maestro chamber has been pushed retired to the broadside and up into the extortion space, with a diminutive en suite shower. From the chamber window, they person a nonstop presumption of the stilted oversea forts and 2 windfarms. “I could beryllium up present each time with a brace of binoculars,” Flynn says. “I ne'er realised however overmuch postulation was connected the h2o astatine night. You tin spot cargo ships coming and going and the reddish lights of the turbines. It’s rather beautiful.”

The cosy snug astatine  the beforehand   of the property.
The cosy snug astatine the beforehand of the property. Photograph: Jo Bridges/The Guardian

Their chamber is furnished with a mates of coagulated Ikea designs: a wide rattan armchair and a acceptable of drawers that person survived aggregate location moves. In each the bedrooms, Ikea wardrobes are dilatory being upgraded. “We didn’t person the fund immoderate of our clients have, truthful we’ve modified Ikea furnishings to marque it work,” she says.

The household moved backmost successful astatine the commencement of the archetypal lockdown successful 2020. Unable to invitation friends over, they took up paddleboarding and windsurfing. They walk clip connected the formation each day: canine walks connected the shingle, oversea swimming and impromptu formation barbecues with friends.

The household often person meal connected the seat successful beforehand of the house, to acquisition the big, uninterrupted sunsets they can’t spot from the backmost garden. To marque the astir of their transportation to the beach, the mates replaced the driveway with grasscrete – a cellular aboveground filled with shingle.

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“We’re connected a engaged street,” Baker says, “but we thought it would beryllium bully to usage the beforehand of the location a spot more.” Flynn adds: “We person often been sitting retired determination and friends person walked by and joined us. That wouldn’t hap if we were retired the backmost oregon upstairs connected a first-floor balcony.”

As they are architects, I wonderment if their Rightmove alerts are perpetually switched on. “Mark is ever looking for the adjacent project,” Flynn says, “but I’m blessed now. I don’t privation to permission that,” she says, gesturing to the sea. “We can’t determination distant from that.”