When Juan started to look at houses in St Leonards, he could see the potential in the Sussex seaside town. ‘The area was a mix of student and social housing, but it had a buzz about it that I loved and the prices were so low,’ he says.
Juan, who was living in a clifftop Victorian townhouse in Hastings at the time, looked at more than 20 properties before he came across this elegant home just five minutes from the sea and town centre. The double-fronted Victorian villa was built in 1886 and started life as a clergyman’s house. In its lifetime, the property had been retirement accommodation and, most recently, a family home, but by the time Juan came to view it, it was in a run-down state, much in need of renovation.
The owners: Juan Ces, who runs a design and build firm, lives here with his partner Amanda Longhurst, an account manager, and his children Iggy, eight, and Tallulah, seven
The property: A seven-bedroom Victorian villa in St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex
Project cost: The renovation project cost £60,000
‘The rear of the ground floor had been carved up to create a network of small rooms and the décor was drab, but my kids loved the garden and the location was ideal,’ he says.
With two young children, it wasn’t practical to live in the house during the renovation so Juan took out a bridging loan to buy it. This meant he could immediately start work transforming the space – knocking down walls and fitting bathrooms. He spent his days renovating in St Leonards and his nights living in Hastings. ‘It became my full-time job for six months as I tried to make the place habitable,’ he says.
As the owner of a design and build company, Juan managed the renovation project, undertaking most of the work himself and then using his contacts for the heavier building work.
Juan redesigned the rear of the ground floor during the renovation to create an open plan kitchen-diner and separate dining room. Upstairs, the layout remains unchanged.
Juan transformed the rear garden with decking and raised beds, and built a six-foot fence for privacy. The old kitchen window has been replaced with bi-fold doors from Jeld-Wen, which allow extra light inside. Behind the built-in bench are two vintage tin signs he found buried in his parents’ garden; for similar, try Pop Art UK.
One of the most appealing features of the house is its outdoor space, although it was overlooked. ‘We’d been living on top of a cliff and were always being battered by the sea air, so I wanted a garden that was sheltered for the children to play in,’ recalls Juan. He looked up local council rules on fencing heights and worked out that if he built a six-foot fence about two and half metres into the garden, he could create a privacy screen. ‘
- Design and construction: So Urban Design, 07941 515555, sourbandesign.com
- Bi-fold doors: Jeld-Wen
- Kitchen: Ikea
- Bathrooms: Bathstore
- Artwork: So Urban Artist Agency