We Moved to a Beach House! A Quick Tour of Our Exciting New Renovation

7 months. 7 long months since we originally put in the offer of our new house, we can finally call the Beach House home.

We had it all, mortgage advisers that went off sick and uncontactable, a mortgage case manager who wouldn’t know what a self-employed person was even if it tapped her on the head. A chain collapsing twice. A difficult buyer who was obviously trying to string the whole process out so she could see to the end of her tenancy. And all whilst we were navigating our way through a Worldwide Pandemic. But, we did it!

our beach house
It doesn’t look like a beach house… yet!
We didn’t get the keys until 3.3pm. Enough time to get our boxes in, beds up and collapse on them!

We didn’t move that far, only 1km away as the crow flies and about 12 minutes in the car but it feels like we’ve moved to another country! We have bought a house right on the beach with sea views and a back gate that leads us straight to the beach and I already feel happier! Coincidentally they were talking about living a stone’s throw away from the beach on the radio this week and the key points they said were –

  1. It can help boost your mental health. A study from the University of Exeter found that people living close to the coast experience lower mental distress. Having a sea view can help improve your mood and the sound of the waves can be very calming. I can testify to that! I have lost hours since we moved to our new house by staring at the sea.
  2. Sea air helps you to sleep better. This is because it is generally fresher and cleaner and has higher levels of oxygen. It also has more negative ions which help balance your serotonin levels.
  3. A study showed that living close to the sea increases your chances of being fitter and healthier. And not just because you can go swimming (well, I certainly won’t in the winter months!). The water offers plenty of opportunities to get fit such as sailing, surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding and the coastline is perfect for jogging, running and walking.
  4. Salt water is good for the body! How often have you been told to use a saline solution after a medical or dental procedure? Sea water is rich in minerals and can have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. It certainly doesn’t on my hair! I actually love what the sea does to my hair, it makes it thicker, curlier and wild!

But, why move house? Your old one was lovely

I could probably pay off my mortgage if I had a £1 for every time someone said this to me. We did love our old house (you can see our previous property in full here). It flowed well, there was more than enough space, the garden wasn’t overlooked, we had off road parking and it was a 5-minute walk to the kid’s school. Perfect, you might think!

Our old house was an end of terrace 1940s style house with an added kitchen extension at the back

We bought this house and it was never really our intention to stay. It was a complete doer upper and our plan was to renovate it over 2 years and then move on. But we loved the house and got the kids into the local school so stayed longer than we had originally planned.

Our first major doer upper

However, I was getting itchy feet. I was redecorating rooms that were fine and already decorated and I knew I had another renovation in me. So, with the stamp duty holiday introduced because of the pandemic, it was a case of now or never and we put the house up for sale.

It sold in 4 days.

This area of our kitchen was redecorated 5 times in 4 years!

Location, location, location

Shoreham-By-Sea, the town where we live, is quite unique. It has Brighton to the east, the Downs to the north and the sea to the south, with the River Adur running through it. The river separates the town from the beach which can be accessed via a bridge to the west, or a footbridge from the town centre.

We spent all summer down here last year with the amazing weather, but I wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to live there. It did feel a little cut off.

The river that separates the town from the beach
Can’t wait for those skies to return
Beach huts
My kids are total water babies
This is our cul-de-sac from the beach. You can make out our roof and chimney just behind the large house.
Views down to Brighton
My Son modelling in front of dramatic skies

The Beach House

The beach house came onto the market the day we had an offer in on our old house, it was like it was meant to be! My husband was extremely keen to move to the beach so I showed it to him and we had a viewing booked in for the next day. As soon as we pulled up outside in our car, I knew it was the one!

Pulling up outside
The view to the beach and sea

It ticked all the boxes. It was in catchment for the local Secondary school, it needed work doing to it but not too much so it was still within our budget and the jewel in the crown had to be, a south west facing balcony with views of the sea and the beach.

The current floor plans

The property itself is a 1960s detached 4-bedroom house which has had a small extension put on the back.

On the ground floor it has a porch and good-sized entrance hall, a large L shaped lounge/diner (I am not a fan of lounge/diners so the first thing I had to work out was how to change the layout), a second living room, a glossy functional kitchen with utility and downstairs toilet.

Ground floor plan
Hallway
Kitchen with breakfast bar and inbuilt applicances
Kitchen with window looking towards the beach
Utility room

On the first floor the beach house has a large master bedroom with en-suite and patio doors out onto the south west facing balcony. There are 2 further double bedrooms, a family bathroom and a small 4th bedroom which the Husband immediately claimed for himself and said it wasn’t allowed to be “instagrammed!”

First floor plan
Master en-suite
Family bathroom
Balcony looking towards the sea

Outside

We weren’t too concerned about the outside as we knew that living so close to the beach, we’d spend most of the summer there. However, the beach house has a good-sized garden which is currently decked and has a patio at the back.

Back garden with the garage and 2nd living room
Decking and walled garden 🙂
Already making this corner my own! I absolutely adore the curved gate and this leads right out onto the beach.

My only concern was that it is north facing and when we put our previous house up for sale, I swore that I would not even look at a property with an east or north facing garden!

Just goes to show location and compromise is everything when viewing a property and you should ALWAYS go have a look!

There is a very large double garage with drive leading to it and a smaller courtyard around the side of the extension with pathways leading up both sides of the beach house.

The large double garage with drive. To the left of this photo is a pathway and with 10 seconds you are on the beach.

To the front there is a large south facing lawn with path in the middle leading up to the front door. It is quite private and hidden by shrubbery and as the beach house itself is in a cul-de-sac, extremely quiet. The balcony also looks over the quiet cul-de-sac and towards the sea and beach. I can confirm that the sunsets here are amazing.

The plans!

So, we’re in and raring to go. I was happy with how the upstairs layout was in the beach house but I knew to make it a home that worked for us, we would have to completely reconfigure downstairs. And to be honest, I was glad that it needed work doing to it or I probably wouldn’t have considered it.

The plan is to turn the L shaped lounge/diner into a smaller snug, take the wall down between the other section of the lounge/diner and the 2nd living room and extend to the bottom right to create a large (almost) rectangular room measuring 7.6m x 5.7m 

A rough floor plan of what we intend to create.

Depending on cost, we will also look at extending at the rear by 1 to 2 metres so that we can put skylights in and maximise the light going into the room as this is always a problem in north facing rooms. 

This would then give us a room measuring 7.6m x 7.2m

A really decent sized room with added length in the boot room

To do this, we need to take down the double garage. I know many people will take a sharp intake of breath at such a suggestion (as many of our friends have), but we never had a garage in our old property. Just a very large garden room that was filled from floor to ceiling with crap we never used.

By taking the double garage down, not only can we reclaim that space, we can also reclaim the drive leading up to it, which will double the size of our garden. This also means we will be able to extend easily out to the back of the property.

The double garage to the left. To be able to extend to the left side of the building here, we would need to either integrate the garage or take it down. I would prefer a bigger garden so down it comes!

We will then look at putting a smaller garden room at the back of the garden to store all our garden cushions, rugs and other items. Where else are we going to put them when it rains?

The plan is to have a pergola and large garden room. Image credit: @design_at_nineteen
Such a fabulous space. Image credit: @design_at_nineteen
With a pergola in the other corner. Image credit: @inside_no_8

Potential for an Annexe

The main reason we want to totally reconfigure the downstairs is because we want the large kitchen/diner that leads straight out into the garden. So, what do we do with the existing kitchen?

The idea is to turn this into a guest bedroom with it’s own downstairs bathroom. We often have people staying over and in our last house, we had 5 bedrooms upstairs so had the space for dedicated guest room. Although this house is a little bigger than our last, we only have 4 bedrooms upstairs because they are bigger. Which meant I had to find somewhere to create another guest room in the beach house.

The guest bedroom in our last home

The new bathroom would be going in the existing utility room, so we would look at creating a new boot room/utility in the extension at the end of the beach house. This would be connected to the kitchen and would also have a door to the garden.

When I created this on Sketchup, I realised that this would create a separate annexe in it’s own right and we could potentially let it out on AirBnB. It has its own separate entrance via a fence around the side and the boot room and utility could house a temporary kitchen. The possibilities!!

This shows the annexe section of the beach house, with guest bedroom to the left, bathroom and boot room and utility on the end.
The boot room would have room for our washing machine and utility items with a sink and potential to add kitchen appliances. Photo Credit: Future

Can you see why we moved?

So yes, we loved our old house. It had a lot of space, flowed wonderfully, a large garden and close to a lot of amenities. But it wasn’t the beach! I actually feel my shoulders drop a little after crossing the bridge back home when I’ve dropped the kids off at school and you really can’t beat hearing the waves crashing as you walk up your garden path.

We have so much to do at the beach house, at the moment it is a little overwhelming and I seem to be wondering around from room to room trying to decide where to start. I guess I need to really start unpacking the boxes instead of standing on the balcony and looking out to the sea!

I hope you come along for the ride…

Mel x

10 Comments

  1. 14/03/2021 / 11:57 am

    What a fab read!! I’m so excited for you all, Mel!
    Martha x

    • Melanie Boyden
      17/03/2021 / 8:24 pm

      Thank you Martha! I’m quite an impatient person and what to get that kitchen up and running now! Mel 🙂

  2. Tara
    15/03/2021 / 6:38 am

    I’m thrilled for you all Mel.
    The house has such wonderful potential but location is everything so you can tick that box. I’m loving all your plans and ideas the I can see you have considered every eventuality there it’s very exciting.
    From my experience knowing how you want your home to look and feel at the end is what guides you and getting as many of those details down before the project starts helps overcome that horrific decision fatigue later.
    Love all the plans can’t wait to see it all unfold.
    Good luck

    • Melanie Boyden
      17/03/2021 / 8:24 pm

      Thanks Tara! We’re loving it here already, make sure you let us know when you’re next down this way, would love to catch up! Mel xx

  3. 15/03/2021 / 8:09 am

    Sounds amazing Mel! Looking forward to seeing this one-do you have a time scale? Is this the forever home?

    Best wishes
    Julie

    • Melanie Boyden
      17/03/2021 / 8:23 pm

      I don’t think this is our forever home, mainly because it is my absolute passion doing properties up and as I come from a military background, I am so used to moving around. However, this house puts us in the catchment area for our local senior school so we will probably have to stick around until my youngest is in (6 years yet!), so if we can’t find anything we like in this area, we’ll stick around until then. I can’t see us wanting to move away from the beach though. Although, we could get so much more for our money if we moved inland. Mel x

  4. Alison
    19/03/2021 / 4:10 pm

    Hi, just came accross your instagram, what a fantastic house you had, cant wait to see your new home take shape,

    • Melanie Boyden
      19/03/2021 / 5:29 pm

      Hi Alison, thank you! We did love our old house a lot, we moved for the location really. This house is going to be just as nice, I hope! Mel 🙂

  5. Megan
    28/03/2021 / 7:14 pm

    I love this so much! Your plans for renovation are the kind of thing I’d like to do at mine. Are you planning on changing the look of the exterior at all?

    • Melanie Boyden
      29/03/2021 / 6:28 pm

      Hello! We’re so excited to get started. And yes, eventually we’ll changing the exterior too. The plan is to have dark grey windows and doors, white rendering on the bottom and dark grey composite cladding on the top.

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