Written by Karen Wilson

Country chic meets coastal cool in this cottage makeover

Allie Denholm and Peter Eyre were searching for a Northumberland coastal cottage that was close to the beach for Peter to surf. But it also needed to be within commuting distance of Newcastle and big enough to house their blended family. Eventually, they found a bit of a fixer upper…

The search for a coastal home took Allie and Peter to Cambois, a somewhat forgotten and overlooked post industrial corner of Northumberland. Although Peter had previously seen the five bedroom Victorian cottage online, he’d dismissed it as unsuitable.

‘I’d checked the surf there many years ago but hadn’t driven all the way towards the harbour,’ he says. ‘The estate agent’s photos didn’t really reflect the potential of the property or area, and I thought the house was set back further than it actually was.’ Drawn in by the symmetry and character, the pair decided to view it anyway. ‘As soon as I walked in and saw the staircase I loved it,’ says Allie.

The living room of a Northumberland coastal cottage made cosy with textures and artwork

Lots of layers and textures bring a cosy feel to the brown leather sofa, which Peter bought in the ‘90s from House of Fraser.

‘It needed a little TLC’

Peter was equally smitten, even though the decor wasn’t to their taste and it needed a little TLC. ‘It had been done up to sell 14 years prior with beige carpets and cappuccino walls,’ he remembers. ‘But you could see the north sea from every front facing window and the rear overlooks the fields adjoining the Wansbeck river.’

Although their offer was accepted, when the sale of Allie’s house in Sussex dragged on, the deal fell through. ‘We were devastated and eventually offered on another house in Blyth,’ says Allie. ‘In the end that sale also fell through and then the Cambois house came back on the market.’

Almost two years after the original viewing, the couple bought the beachside property. They even managed to negotiate a lower price, paying £305,000 in March 2017. The Northumberland coastal cottage is now worth over £435,000.

This Northumberland coastal cottage kitchen makeover added light, character and style to this house in Northumberland

Allie seated at the second hand oak dining table, which cost just £300 from Kasbah Furniture Market. The range cooker was already in situ. Photo: Katie Lee

Let there be light

On the day they got the keys, the pair set to work ripping up the carpets, before painting all the walls and floorboards white and opening up the fireplaces. They also replaced the nicotine-stained 70s PVC windows with replica sash windows at the front and French doors at the rear.

Mindful of bringing more light into the middle of the house, one of the front reception rooms was knocked through to the kitchen too. ‘It had an old fashioned serving hatch and the kitchen only had one window by the sink, so it’s made a huge difference,’ says Allie.

The space now boasts a vintage haberdashery counter as a centrepiece, topped with a piece of marble from an old fireplace where Peter preps food. ‘I’d wanted one forever so when we found it on Ebay, it was worth driving all the way to Bedfordshire to pick up,’ says Allie. ‘It was last used in a joke shop so we still have the little index cards inside saying things like ‘drag queen glasses’ and ‘moustaches’.’

Traditional cottage bedroom painted white with period fireplace and second-hand furniture

The master bedroom has a reclaimed fireplace from Olde World Fireplaces and a chaise longue from Kasbah Furniture Market. Photo: Katie Lee

Country-style with edge

In the kitchen, a previously bricked-in sandstone inglenook was exposed and limestone flooring was laid. They also transformed the old coal and wood store into a yoga room, reformatted an airing cupboard to create a bigger bathroom and fixed the leaky roof that had caused part of the ceiling to collapse in the master bedroom.

With little money left for furniture, the pair have made use of the area’s many vintage and second hand shops. ‘Our style is a combination of traditional simple country with the freshness of the natural beach environment, but we like to still have an edge to it with some of the artwork,’ says Peter. ‘We love classic French and English pieces such as chandeliers, signs and old units so the kitchen is now 100% stand alone furniture.’

Since buying the Northumberland coastal cottage, both have re-trained as yoga teachers and launched a Hot Pod Yoga Studio in nearby Morpeth with the hope of making yoga accessible to all and having a welcoming and inclusive studio. ‘We both have a background in education and appreciate the physical and mental benefits of yoga, so it seemed like a natural progression for us to spread our passion and teach others,’ says Peter. ‘Hopefully it’ll provide the flexible lifestyle we’re after in future.’

cosy cottage updated with white-washed walls and wooden floor, pale green rolltop bath, plants and rug

A sage green roll top bath from The Iron Bath Company makes a striking feature in the bathroom. The rug is from TK Maxx. Photo: Katie Lee

Idyllic surroundings

The couple have no plans to move from their idyllic surroundings where they can step directly onto the white sand estuary just in front of their house.

‘We never take for granted what it feels like going to sleep and waking up with the sound of the sea lapping against the shore, hearing the birds, or seeing wild horses, deer and foxes,’ says Peter. ‘But it’s not just the scenery – our community is made up of a genuinely gorgeous group of people making up all walks of life.’

Allie echoes the sentiment and feels like she’s on holiday whenever she comes home. ‘We’re very fortunate to live in such a little haven,’ she says. ‘However difficult your day has been, when you turn the corner into Cambois and see the sea, it’s like pressing a reset button.’

The Victorian detached cottage by the sea needed some work

The front door to the Victorian detached cottage is painted in St Giles Blue by Farrow & Ball. Photo: Katie Lee

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