Sunday, 19 September 2021

‘No such thing as a kitchen that’s too big’

MANY people who buy a property by the sea choose to renovate it themselves.TV presenter and property guru Kirstie Allsopp

MANY people who buy a property by the sea choose to renovate it themselves.TV presenter and property guru Kirstie Allsopp was one of them.

She purchased Meadowgate, star of her Homemade Home TV series, in the North Devon seaside village of Welcombe, when it was in need of some serious love and attention. Here she discusses the joys of having a home on the coast and offers potential renovators some top tips.

Why did you choose a house on the North Devon coast for your renovation project?

I wasn’t looking for a renovation project at the time as I was eight months pregnant. My other half showed me the details because he knew I’d always wanted a beach house, and some great friends of ours rent near Meadowgate every summer, so I knew the area.

What was it about Meadowgate that stood out to you?

I owned it before seeing it, but the first time I went there I fell completely in love, despite the house being in a terrible state. The location is what cracks it — the amazing woods and otherworldly valley, the incredible beach and the stream that runs down to the sea.

What’s the best thing about having a holiday home on the coast?

Not having to rent houses with substandard everything. It amazes me what people think is acceptable for a holiday let: rotten beds, polyester sheets (if you aren’t being asked to bring your own), no proper cooking or baking equipment, no Wi-Fi... how long have you got? Meadowgate, which we rent out when we are not using it, starts with all beds having luxury mattresses and continues in the same vein throughout the house.

What was the renovating experience like?

As my partner Ben and I had done lots of projects before, it wasn’t that much of a strain, and we had an amazing builder, Ross Board of Dev-Build, who is a total star. The only problem came when we decided to base my craft show Kirstie’s Homemade Home at Meadowgate, which meant we had to work to the filming timetable.

What was the key thing you learnt working on Meadowgate?

It is so much easier if you stay faithful to the original house, and there’s no such thing as a kitchen that’s too big.

What’s your top tip for aspiring renovators?

If there’s an opportunity to put in an extra window somewhere, do it — you’ll never regret it. And try, try, try to create a separate laundry room, even if it means moving the machines into a bathroom.

I’ve never understood the weird British habit of combining food and laundry spaces.

What are the biggest potential pitfalls?

Overspending and doing more to the house than you’ll get back in rent or resale. Conversely, some choose to do things shoddily because it’s “just a rental property”. You should think about the house as somewhere you might end up living permanently.

What should people consider when looking for their ideal holiday home on the coast?

People looking to buy should really get to know the area and what it offers before making a purchase; a second home should be a long-term investment.

Those looking to rent should consider things such as whether you genuinely can walk to the beach, and whether things like sheets, towels, travel cots and loo rolls are supplied.

There’s nothing worse than arriving for what’s supposed to be a holiday and finding you can’t have a cup of tea or go to the loo until you’ve unpacked the car or made a trip to the local shop.

If you hadn’t chosen North Devon, where would you love to have a coastal property?

Mustique or Kenya. But to be honest, I think the North Devon coast is one of the most beautiful and dramatic places in the world. It’s only the need for a bit of tropical weather that takes me further afield.

Are there any up-and-coming coastal hotspots?

There are still so many neglected and out-of-fashion places all around Great Britain waiting to be snapped up. Our kids are very spoilt and have been all over the place, but they love our days on the beach at Meadowgate. You really can’t beat a British beach holiday with kids.

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