When a rare opportunity to buy an apartment in their favourite holiday location of south Devon cropped up in 2012, Wendy and Ian Hodges-Jackson jumped at the chance. The two-bedroom flat had beautiful views over the sea to Burgh Island Hotel, made famous by regular guests Agatha Christie and Noel Coward, and was within weekend reach of the couple’s Hertfordshire home.
‘We love this part of south Devon and have been taking our holidays in this development for years,’ says Wendy. ‘The flat hadn’t been refurbished for a long time, but we knew it could be somewhere special. Our Hertfordshire home is an old farmhouse, so we wanted a completely different feel here.’
Ian runs an engineering business and works regularly with developers, so he drew up the plans, gave the builder a schedule of work, specified the materials needed and appointed local contractor/builder Jeremy Gilbert to manage the project, although Ian oversaw the refurbishment by visiting regularly. Using local labour, floors were removed and ceilings renewed, the fireplace was taken out of the living room and the wiring was redesigned in order to allow the installation of a sophisticated lighting, sound and Wi-Fi system.
- The owners: Wendy Hodges-Jackson, who manages her own property portfolio, and her husband Ian, who runs his own business services engineering business, live here with children Ella, 12, and Ollie, 10
- The property: A two-bedroom apartment, built in 1998
- The location: Bigbury-on-Sea, south Devon
- What they spent: The couple bought the apartment for £485,000 in 2012 and have spent around £130,000 improving it. It has recently been valued at around £650,000
Major changes were also made to the two bathrooms. The couple planned to turn their own en suite into a dedicated, walk-in shower room, while the old shower room, which served the twin bedroom, would become a bathroom. ‘The idea of creating the new shower room was that no one would have to trek through the flat in wet swimming gear to have a wash in the old bathroom,’ says Wendy. ‘But we wanted to keep at least one bath, so we could choose between a quick shower and a relaxing soak.’
The old en suite to the twin room had a Jack-and-Jill door system, enabling entry from both the bedroom and the hallway, but, for privacy reasons, Wendy and Ian decided to block up access to the hallway. ‘This also gave us more wall space in the bathroom, and therefore more options for the layout,’ explains Wendy.
Deciding on decor
The couple asked a local estate agent for help in finding an interior designer, and Paul Hervey of PHI Concepts was recommended to them. ‘He was amazing and a real inspiration,’ says Wendy. Brought on board to freshen up the place, Paul’s first impression was that the apartment looked ‘old-fashioned, with lots of pine furniture and peachy colours – very 1980s in style and not at all luxurious.’
His advice to the couple was to create a Ralph Lauren/New England style interior, but with a twist. ‘A seaside theme may seem very obvious, bearing in mind the location of the apartment,’ says Paul. ‘But I knew it could be done in a gentle, subtle way that would be timeless and still relevant in 20 years’ time.’
Fixtures and fittings
With the bathroom spaces redesigned, they needed a major overhaul in terms of fixtures and fittings, too. The wet room-style shower off the master bedroom was given a slightly raised floor to allow for drainage, as well as a taupe colour scheme that included ceramic floor tiles with a timber-look finish. The en suite off the twin bedroom is a slightly darker shade and has subtly different, ceramic wood-look flooring. As a final luxurious touch, power showers were fitted, and underfloor heating was installed beneath the new ceramic tiles. ‘The heating is Wi-Fi operated, so we can control it from anywhere in the world!’ adds Wendy.
The couple inherited wall colours that were largely neutral but which varied from room to room. To encourage a feeling of space, they opted for a canvas-white shade throughout and a slightly darker colour for woodwork. Paul suggested creating a feature wall in each room using a variety of designer wallpapers, and picked out blue and white as the dominant shades, which are repeated throughout the flat. Wendy’s brother Samuel J Grant, a specialist decorator, was brought in to do this work.
The refurbishment took around three months over winter, and the family were able to move into their luxurious holiday home in February 2013. Now they relax there as much as their schedule allows, making it a much-valued bolthole away from the stresses of work. While the children play in the sea, Ian tries his hand at kite-surfing, while Wendy loves walking and watching the ever-changing scenery. ‘Whether it’s summer or winter, the views are glorious,’ she says. ‘It’s a great place to escape to, away from ordinary life.’