Written by Sharon Parsons

Coastal styling in a chic Devonshire apartment

The airy interiors of Anna Warrington’s beach-house style home have been designed around its stunning coastal location. And it all seemed serendipitous as she describes the decisive and rapid changes she made to her light-filled Devon apartment which she bought four years’ ago…

‘I was literally moving in when a friend who was helping me suggested calling a builder pal to pop by and talk through the various ideas I already had,’ Anna recalls. ‘So there we were, surrounded by packing boxes, discussing what could be achieved, and imagining a completely different look and feel to what was already there. It was a revelation.’

Exteriors of the Devonshire apartment

The deck runs the length of the apartment, with the tiered garden overlooking the hills and rooftops of Dartmouth to sea beyond. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Returning to town life

Anna had been living in a very different property when she first heard on the grapevine that the apartment, owned by a bank, was being sold. ‘I had a really sweet little cottage about 30 minutes’ drive from Dartmouth,’ Anna explains. ‘Much as I enjoyed village life though, I seemed to spend most of my time driving back and forth to the town for work and to see all my friends here, and I realised it made sense to relocate. Finding somewhere suitable to create beach house style was easier said than done, though. So when this place became available – and at a price I could afford – I was tenacious, to say the least.’

This coastal renovation has perfect New England style in the living room

The palette Anna chose for the interiors accentuates the sense of light and space in her unique home. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Open-plan spaces for entertaining

The unusual hillside property overlooking the town was not completely unknown to Anna as she’d once visited people who had lived there many years’ before. It was just as well because the sale regulations stipulated it must be bought as seen. ‘It was a leap of faith, but I instinctively felt this was the right place for me,’ Anna explains. ‘I didn’t hesitate.’

While the property proved to be structurally sound, there was no denying the layout was illogical and didn’t work with the way Anna wanted to live. ‘I wanted it to feel largely open plan, light and airy,’ she explains. ‘I also really enjoy entertaining, so I needed the space to accommodate a lot of people when necessary.’

The open plan coastal renovation is perfect for entertaining

The living room now leads directly to the new dining area with its huge island and open-sided kitchen leading off from it. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Flipping the interior footprint

Initially, Anna and the builder, Sam Davies, simply drew a rough plan for the new layout on a sheet of paper. ‘It wasn’t just the overall ‘look’ we had to get right,’ Anna explains. ‘The practical and financial considerations were of utmost importance, too.’ In simple terms, the property’s interior footprint was to be flipped: what had been a kitchen at the far end of the long, beach-house style apartment was to become the main bedroom with a sparkling new bathroom leading off it.

A standalone tub is the focal point of the bathroom

Anna says she’s ‘kept the bathroom deliberately uncluttered for a relaxed spa-like feel’. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Zoning the spaces

At the other end, meanwhile, a dramatic overhaul was to see a large but awkward area – once used as a bedroom – transformed into a generous open living space: the old bathroom here was designated for Anna’s new kitchen, leading to a custom-made over-sized island which would not only be a strong focal point, but effectively zone the space, too. Tucked in the middle of the property, meanwhile, a dressing room along with the guest room, and shower suite were neatly accommodated.

The relaxing bedroom has epic views

Anna’s light and bright bedroom scheme is filled with heirloom and treasured pieces. The unframed seascape was painted by her late mother. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Dreams become reality

Five months later, once the plans had been finalised, the work could begin. Anna stayed on site throughout the five-week renovation – ‘I just gritted my teeth and put up with the mess and dust,’ she laughs – and was fascinated as she saw the layout effectively come to life. ‘As the new rooms emerged around me, the kitchen and bathroom I’d chosen installed, flooring laid, and my dreamed-of island became a reality, it really felt as if the apartment was truly becoming mine,’ she recalls.

The coastal renovation featured a relaxed kitchen

What was once a bathroom has been transformed into a neat, practical kitchen area, with Shaker-style units from Howdens. Photo: Richard Gadsby

New England beach-house style

Now – at last – Anna was able to plan the décor and her much-loved beach-house style. ‘I love the look and feel of New England beach houses which are so fresh, breezy and relaxed,’ she says. ‘The apartment is in such a lovely position – overlooking the hills and rooftops of Dartmouth with the river and sea beyond – so I also wanted to bring in the sense of light and airiness you feel up here.’

To achieve that, Anna chose a simple palette of tonal blues set against a clean white background, layered with textural materials and classic patterns that subtly echo a coastal vibe without being too overtly ‘seaside’.

New England style was fitting for this coastal renovation

Featuring an old louvred wardrobe door painted white to resemble a continental shutter creates beach house style in the compact guest room. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Pinterest played a key part with the beach house style

Working to a strict budget, she carefully combined furnishings she already had with pieces found in both upscale and high-street retail outlets, often during sales. ‘I kept a Pinterest board of interior looks that appealed to me, – no matter how eye-wateringly expensive the design or product might be, then spent time hunting down similar pieces that would help me achieve the overall style,’ she says. ‘It was a really satisfying thing to do – and pull off.’

The apartment's hillside views are spectacular

The French doors in the bedroom lead straight out on to a deck. ‘It’s the most wonderful hillside backdrop to wake up to,’ says Anna. Photo: Richard Gadsby

Pinch me moments

Much-loved family heirlooms and vintage treasures also have their place here, ensuring the apartment feels personal and unique. ‘These are things which have been with me for years, and always say “home” to me,’ Anna says. ‘At the end of the day, no matter how big or small a renovation might be, it’s how you feel in your place that matters. I’m so happy here, I still have to pinch myself sometimes.’

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