Northumberland Coastal Renovation
Case study and images from Studio Dean
Founder & CEO of Studio Dean, Cathy Dean
When, in a major house renovation should you bring in an interior designer? The owners of this calming coastal retreat in Seahouses, Northumberland began consulting with Studio Dean before they’d even purchased the property, and continued collaborating with us throughout every stage of the project.
Now that they’re settled in, they can fully appreciate how having a designer onboard from start to finish was key to achieving their dream home.
Our clients were a husband-and-wife pair of medical professionals coming towards the end of their working lives, looking for a peaceful rural haven. They wanted somewhere mostly just for them, but with room for their twenty-something daughter to continue to live with them on and off, and for their two grown-up sons to visit and stay over for extended periods of time and feel at home.
The property is an old traditional stone building in the most beautiful Northumberland seaside setting with uninterrupted views over the North East Coast line, Farne Island & Bamburgh Castle. This space is special to our clients, who have lived in the area for a few years.
“Cathy’s main impact, really,” says the owner, “was to say: let’s open it right up. From the back garden, you can now see all the way through the property, and get views of the sea to the front. That required taking down quite a few internal walls, and opening up smallish windows into big patio doors, and allowing a lot more natural light to flow through.”
A big focus was to fulfill a long-held ambition for the owners to have their own full sized snooker table. We used this as inspiration to create a games room for family days, teamed with a home bar, opening out to the garden to create a perfect space for all ages to meet and play together as a family.
HOW IT STARTED
The owners knew of our work and had decided that Studio Dean was the interior designer for them, long before they had found a property to move to.
One of the owners asked us at the beginning; “When would you get involved? Would it be towards the latter stages, picking the curtains and soft furnishings and things?”
But the Studio Dean way of working is entirely the opposite. We said no, we wanted to be involved from the very beginning to look at the whole thing strategically. The client later told us, “We hadn’t appreciated how important that would be, but now we realise it was absolutely essential.”
Initially in search of a turn-key property, they viewed dozens of places without any joy. In early 2020 they discovered a rundown section of a former seaside hotel which in the 1980s had been subdivided into several large terraced houses.
It was in a dilapidated condition, but it lay immediately by a sandy beach, with unspoilt North Sea views towards the Farne Islands. It was an irresistible prospect.
The couple asked Cathy to scout out the house and see if something might be done with it.
STYLE + FUNCTION
The owners aren’t big on bright colours, so most of the palette throughout is earthy, natural, neutral.
But Cathy has kept it interesting by layering subtle variations of tone and texture side by side – in the kitchen, for example, where a broad belt of wood panelling runs up the walls and across the dropped ceiling.
This is not just functional (it conceals pipes and cables) but it gives the black sliding doors to the hall and the mottled brown kitchen cabinetry something to react against. “The impact of the darkness will be lost unless it’s got a happy partner,” Cathy points out.
Our finest touch are two pairs of steel-framed, glass-panelled Crittall-style doors that divide the formal lounge, with its wide open north-easterly views, from the hallway and the kitchen.
They close off the space when desired, yet without ever preventing the light that pours in over the North Sea from flooding right through the interior.
It was so important that we were involved all the way through the process. Without spatial planning this home would be a more beautiful space than we found it, but it would never have achieved its full potential. Spatially planning the home before we even consider style makes sure we make the space work beautifully, every day. We maximise all the best elements of a property and make sure the day to day is taken care of before we then move on to the more decoration based elements.
We are so, so proud of the results and pleased that we dreamed big to make sure our clients got every single thing they wished for!