Dramatic remodel of a 19th-century seaside home

A modern makeover and double-height extension have transformed a period property into a modern, light-filled space

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Artist Shirley Vauvelle has always appreciated the value of light and space, so when she and her family outgrew their dark, period farmhouse in Huddersfield and found a 19th-century property by the sea in Scarborough, the plan was to transform and extend the dated building into a light, modern home.

‘We’d been looking for a plot to build our own house on, but fell in love with this place as soon as we saw it,’ recalls Shirley. ‘Our previous home was quite oppressive – it had such a low ceiling in the living room that we had to have the lights on most of the time, even in the summer. But the location for this property was brilliant, with a large surrounding garden, and there was huge potential to create something special.’

The biggest challenge was to find an architect who could realise her vision of transforming the property from a rabbit warren of rooms with heavy sash windows into a free-flowing living space flooded with light. ‘I’d already seen and admired the work of Malton architect Ric Blenkharn,’ says Shirley, ‘and he agreed to take a look before we put in an offer, and let us know what he thought.’

Ric’s plan was to turn two existing garages and a stable into a spacious, open plan kitchen with a glass wall overlooking a courtyard on one side and a feature pond on the other. A two-storey extension would be built on the opposite side, where the original kitchen had been, and an outdated conservatory/lean-to replaced with a glazed orangery, with the internal layout simplified. Sash windows would make way for modern floor-to-ceiling ones, but many of the internal features – including the central staircase – would be incorporated into the modern new look.

The proposals were submitted to the planning department and passed, with slight modifications, three months later – one of the few stipulations being that local herringbone stone was to be used to build the extensions.

Building work commenced in May 2004, with a main contractor recommended by the architect, and a project manager pulling the schedule together.

Key facts

The owner: Shirley Vauvelle, a mixed media artist, lives here with children Andre, 20, and Alfie, 16. She also has an older son, Oliver, 24

The property: Renovated 19th-century five-bedroom country house set in five acres of land in Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Project cost: The total cost of the extension and remodel was £370,000

‘I wanted it to be a home first and foremost,’ Shirley, homeowner

19th century country house kitchen winder with exposed beams

A step in the kitchen design creates two clear zones in the large space, which is further divided by a moveable glass-fronted cupboard unit. The textural elements of the kitchen continue with the polished stone floor tiles from Kirkstone.

19th century country house feature wall with exposed brickwork and wood statement staircase

Open steps lead to a mezzanine-style walkway in her studio where Shirley likes to hang artwork.

Oak-cantilevered treads made by Brian Fell Leven Joinery contrast with the original stone walls. Sofa, Incanto. Cupboard, Gordon Reece Gallery

19th century country house blue bedroom feature wall

Reclaimed flooring from Birbek Wood Flooring adds contrasting warmth and texture to the modern furniture, which continues into the en suite.

Bed, And so to Bed. Josette Seaspray wallpaper, Laura Ashley. Bedlinen, Tesco. Bedside table, The Cotswold Company. Telephone chair, Gallery 49. Philippe Starck Italian stool, (in en suite) BoConcept

19th century country house colourful cabinet displaying artwork

A fan of textures and tactile materials, Shirley adorns her walls with artwork.

For a similar cabinet, try Orchid

19th century country house art studio

With its two-storey height, natural light and gallery-style mezzanine, what was earmarked

19th century country house display of original artwork

Shirley collects paintings and ceramics created by friends and colleagues.

Painting by Elizabeth Knight. Wooden flowers by Anna Wiscombe. Ceramic figures by Gwen Vaughan, Jo Lucksted and Hannah Turner

19th century country house orange and black bathroom

Contrasting tiles by Lapicida and clever lighting from Duluce are used to striking effect in the main bathroom. Sanitaryware, Morland Bathrooms

19th century country house open plan kitchen diner with exposed beams

An original timber A-frame above, and vast windows from Pendant Aluminium define the spaces in the open-plan kitchen and dining area. The Belgian kitchen units from Decota Keukens feature lava rock work surfaces and a steel and polished concrete splashback. For similar bar stools, try Wicor gas lift stools, Wayfair. Dining table and benches, Ponsford

19th century country house orange sofa in living room

The original main entrance has been retained but the hall walls removed to create one large living space, segregated by a swivel wall which has been papered differently on each side.

For similar wallpaper, try Harlequin’s Nalina

19th century country house statement feature staircase

Small storage box insets were created to add interest to the living room walls, and large double doors lead to the original staircase.

Carpet, Dixon & Franks

19th century country house orange bright living room

New windows and a modern fireplace have given the living room in the original part of the house a contemporary new look.

Orange Pudding sofa, Loaf. Coffee table, Gordon Reece Gallery

19th century country house after remodel with two storey extension

A two-storey extension to the left and orangery on the right have created a stunning family space. A two-storey extension housing Shirley’s studio has been built where the original kitchen was, and outbuildings to the rear of the property have been knocked down to make way for a new open-plan kitchen-diner. An existing lean-to/conservatory has been replaced with an orangery.

The roof had been replaced seven years previously and didn’t need much work, other than re-tiling in new slate to match the proposed new extensions, but the interior was taken back to a shell. The basic principle inside was to work from the top down, installing new roof timbers, flooring and specially manufactured windows.


  • Architect: Ric Blenkharn, Bramhall Blenkharn, 01653 693333, brable.com
  • Construction: Dane Developments, 01944 758556, danedevelopments.co.uk
  • Interior design: Shirley Vauvelle, 01723 583882, shirleyvauvelle.co.uk
  • Joinery: Brian Fell Leven, 01964 542363
  • Kitchen: Decota Keukens
  • Lighting: Duluce
  • The full feature appears in the May 2016 issue of Real Homes. For back issues, call 01527 834435. Subscribe today to take advantage of our money-saving subscription offers.