Renovated Edwardian family home

Lindsey and Scott Sale spotted the potential in a former nursing facility and turned a maze of bedrooms into a modern, open-plan family space

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As parents to triplet daughters, Lindsey and Scott Sale are used to doing things on a larger scale than most people, and don’t shy away from a challenge. But when they took on the restructuring of a 12-bedroom former care home, there were times when even they wondered if they had gone a step too far.

‘As anyone who has renovated a property knows, a seemingly simple job has the habit of turning up several more problems,’ says Scott, who managed the project from start to finish. And the Edwardian villa, which had been sub-divided into en suite rooms, with two giant boilers and a host of safety devices, came with its share of issues.

Competition for property is fierce in Hove, where the couple’s home is located on a broad avenue leading down to the sea, and good houses don’t stay on the market for long. The Sales only went to view the former care home by chance, as a price comparison, as the house they wanted to buy had just received a low valuation. ‘This place cost more money, but it was a lot bigger and detached. We came away certain that it was a more exciting project,’ recalls Scott. Even better, the seller went on to obtain planning permission to convert it back to a family dwelling, meaning that they could start work on the renovation as soon as they moved in.

Fact file

  • The owners: Lindsey Sale, senior director of artist training for MAC Cosmetics and her husband Scott, who is retired, live here with their triplet daughters, Lauren, Gracie and Ella, eight
  • The property: A seven-bedroom, detached Edwardian house, built in 1911 
  • The location: Hove, East Sussex
  • What they spent: The couple bought the house for £920,000 in 2011 and have spent around £219,000 on renovating the property. It has recently been valued at £1.6million

Scott managed the build alongside being the primary carer for their three daughters. When his previous job in sales offered him only two weeks’ paternity leave, he decided to become a full-time parent: ‘With three tiny babies to look after, both of us going back to work wasn’t an option,’ says Scott. ‘Lindsey was offered a promotion after her maternity leave, and I welcomed the chance to see my daughters growing up. It seemed the logical thing to do.’

Lindsey and Scott Sale, Hove

The former care home has now been given a new life as a family home. The sash windows were all renovated and the balcony rebuilt

Beginning the renovation work

The triplets were five by the time the family moved into their new home. Scott had built a good relationship with the previous owners, so they let him decorate a bedroom for the girls before they exchanged and, the day before completion, he was able to put in new carpets and start ripping out a bathroom from a corner of the front room – previously a resident’s bedroom – to create a living room.

Scott was still hacking away at the stud wall to the en suite when the removal men arrived, and he persuaded them to help out with taking down the wall. They also removed two large wardrobe doors from the front of an attractive archway, revealing an original stained-glass window, and a suspended en suite ceiling, beneath which they discovered the room’s original early 20th-century coving and frieze.

The living room became a sanctuary for the family while work began at the back of the house, which took four months to turn into a liveable space. The large open-plan main room, where the Sales now spend most of their time, was once a dark central corridor leading to a warren of bedrooms at the far end, with an institutional-style kitchen, medicine room and boiler room on one side of the corridor and a sparse dining room with a stone water fountain on the other. ‘The previous care-home owners told us that they couldn’t actually use the fountain,’ says Lindsey. ‘The sound of running water made their residents need the loo!’

Lindsay and Scott Sale, Hove

A large roof lantern by Town & Country makes this space bright and airy, with Karndean vinyl tiles laid throughout. Philippe Starck for Kartell Victoria Ghost chairs add vibrancy

Creating open-plan living

Scott submitted plans to knock through the existing kitchen, three back bedrooms and dining room to create the open-plan space, which would be zoned for different activities. ‘At one stage, we thought about knocking down the three bedrooms at the back to gain extra garden room, but we realised that inside space was more valuable, as that’s where we would spend most of our time,’ he says.

Despite the huge difference the change would make, the alterations were all within the existing footprint of the property, so planning permission was straightforward. There were already three openings for French doors at the back of the house, which were replaced with more modern versions. The existing flat roof was removed and rebuilt in line with energy ratings, with Velux windows and two large pitched roof lanterns that fill the space with light.

In such a large area, it was important to get the flooring right. Scott and Lindsey did consider a resin floor, but didn’t think it would be hardwearing enough, so they instead settled on natural-look luxury vinyl tiles laid over underfloor heating. As with all of the project, Scott was there to oversee the installation and, he says, it’s a good example of how vital it is to be there at all stages. ‘The planks came in just four different patterns of woodgrain, so I had to make sure they were laid in a random pattern that was pleasing to the eye.’

Lindsey and Scott Sale, Hove

This corner of the open-plan space is a quieter nook for relaxing, furnished with a vintage leather armchair, John Lewis sofa and an armchair and coffee table from Zara Home

An area for entertaining

The room is designed for entertaining friends, family and guests who stay over, with a dropdown projector, three-metre screen and wall and ceiling speakers that are part of a top-of-the-range 7.1 surround sound system. Rugs zone the main seating area and there’s a more intimate corner for reading and coffee, nearer the kitchen.

‘We wanted a kitchen that was on trend but in a colour and style that will endure,’ says Lindsey of their light beige units. Lots of storage space means surfaces can be kept clear, and high-end appliances include a combi-microwave oven, separate ovens for cooking meat and vegetarian dishes, and a coffee machine.

The composite surface for the large island came in two huge slabs, which are supported by a steel frame. ‘The slabs were the largest dimensions available,’ says Scott. When it came to choosing bar stools to use at the island, Scott and Lindsey ordered five designs online, then picked the one that worked best and paid a small charge to send the other samples back. ‘Buying online is great value, but with items like chairs or stools, you need to try them out and see them in situ to decide properly,’ says Scott.

The back wall on to the garden has three sets of doors rather than a continuous wall of glass, which the couple had considered installing. ‘We didn’t want a look that might date,’ says Lindsey, ‘and this way we can open all three sets of doors on hot summer days for parties, or just one set if the weather is cooler.’

Lindsay and Scott Sale, Hove

The original balustrading has been retained while the floor was updated with London Mosaic tiles, installed over underfloor heating. As in the other rooms of the house, the radiator is from B&Q

A luxury bathroom

There was also a lot of work to be done upstairs. The care-home bedrooms all had a built-in en suite, so Scott and Lindsey either removed the bathrooms entirely or replaced the sanitaryware. New carpets were fitted and one of the smaller bedrooms was turned into a family bathroom (it helped that the waste pipe and plumbing were already in place). Grey limestone tiles, a new ceiling rose, underfloor heating, vintage furniture and a slipper bath give this bathroom a sense of luxury that Lindsey, in particular, appreciates. Having a long, deep bath is never a problem – with two boilers and two tanks already installed for the care home, there’s always plenty of hot water.

This is also a bonus when family and friends come to stay, with most of Scott’s family living in Derbyshire – and this is when the main room comes into its own. ‘We hang up swings and ropes from ceiling hooks for a mini adventure playground for the kids,’ says Scott. ‘With the girls running in and out of the garden and friends chatting by the long breakfast bar or at the outside dining table, all that hard work feels worthwhile.’ Not one to sit back for long, though, Scott is already planning his next project – a summerhouse for the girls.

‘We love the new space we’ve created, along with the garden, but we’re not overly precious about material items,’ he says. ‘At the end of the day, the people in our house are the most important thing.’

The costs

Building work£60,000
Windows and doors£42,000
Electrics and lighting£12,000
Furniture and reupholstery£12,000
Garden and remodelling£12,000
Flooring and carpet£8,000
Blinds, curtains and shutters£6,000
Plumbing and heating£6,000