A well-built but underwhelming 1960s vicarage in Crantock becomes the ultimate modern beachhouse
Trewhella was once a 1961 slice of indifferent architecture that was nonetheless a hugely celebrated addition to the village of Crantock as a new home to the vicar of the church which sits at the bottom of the drive.
A stone in the front garden commemorates the opening of the house on 21 April 1961 by churchwardens and the vicar after which the house is named. Today it is barely recognisable. Bought in early 2015, the present owners split their time between this stunning light-filled house and their home in Bath. And in between Trewhella is rented out as a holiday home to help pay for its luxury revamp – and ensure such a beautiful home isn’t left empty.
Driving up the gravel drive, the house comes into full view and is breathtakingly fresh and light, sitting with lush green lawns in front, and an achingly blue sky behind – food for the soul on a cold December day. It is slightly chalet in style with a deep overhanging roof to provide coverage over the balconies that sit outside two of the bedrooms. The entrance is a double height, and cleverly looks straight up through a glass balustrade mezzanine/first floor that houses four bedrooms and the family bathroom to the whitewashed eaves at the top of the three-storey home where the master suite is housed.
‘We bought the house from the church as the old vicarage,’ explain the owners. – who want to remain anonymous. ‘It was built in 1961 and was well constructed but dull! It was grey pebble-dashed but we have retained the integrity of the original building that you can probably see. The aim was to create open plan accommodation with plenty of glass and light.
The themes emerged as the project progressed and has been influenced by us and Jon (from architects Whitebox Architects) as well the surroundings. Sue Clark of Inspirational Interiors, Newquay added creative touches for the curtains and blinds. The entrance hallway is south-facing and floods with light and creates an impressive feature for the house.
An invitation if ever I heard one to explore the ground floor which is dominated by an open-plan living space and kitchen – and plenty of light. A kitchen created from matt white is expensively understated, with an island large enough to seat four without getting in the cook’s way. A sociable cooking space where the chef remains very much part of the conversation.
An exceedingly clever second work surface sits near the utility space (and home to a downstairs wet room which is accessible from outside to wash off a day at nearby Crantock Beach). ‘We also wanted a way into the house via the utility room from the beach with sandy gear, dogs, children and wet clothes,’ the owners tell me.
The work surface is designed with a single purpose as a standalone drinks station, with kettle, sink and coffee machine. It’s a first for me in the many houses I have toured and is a touch of unobtrusive luxury – as well as keeping the central kitchen space uncluttered, it keeps any coffee makers out of the cook’s way. The only sign of the wonderfully barely-there German designed kitchen (£25,000 from Kelly at Homemaker, Bath) is a flush-fronted EFF oven and double door fridge. It has long been my belief that an open plan kitchen/living space requires a powerful extractor fan to hide all those cooking smells – even if they mar the clean minimalist surfaces. After all that full Cornish breakfast smells much more appetising before it’s eaten than several hours after it’s been digested. At Trewhella this is all self-contained in the designer giant space-age light that hovers over the kitchen island and seems to pay homage to the original era of the house. But in classic multipurpose design, flick a switch (or wireless remote control in this case) and voilà! It becomes an extractor fan (by Elica).
The kitchen area looks on to a fully-glazed seating area where the focus is on a wood burner and the glass ceiling – which can be rather hypnotic in the rain. Here the glass walls look out onto the wrap around patio and banked lawn which will offer endless fun to dogs and children who love to roll. Or you can choose to curl up in the lush purple L-shaped sofa and look at the large flat screen television instead. Across the hall there is a media room featuring a flat screen TV and games for escaping the hubbub of the house. There’s also a sofa bed if you want to pull an all-nighter.
Light grey slate floors on the ground floor give way to light grey carpet as we head upstairs, pausing to enjoy the view from the mezzanine.
Here four bedrooms await to be explored but the second master room, beckons first with its own French windows and balcony overlooking the pretty village of Crantock and the old church that the rectory was once owned by. The village dates back to 460 AD when a group of Irish hermits founded an oratory there and the houses on view provide an endlessly fascinating view.
Simply and classily furnished, doors led off to a small walk-in closet and a luxurious en suite wet room. The real master suite sits on its own floor at the top of the house, enticed by stairs leading up to the sky view of the Velux windows. Through a door, there are wall-width windows that curve around the corners and offer a panoramic slice of unspoilt Cornish countryside and provide a hint of the buildings real age. The room is dominated by a kingsized bed made from reclaimed driftwood which faces the French windows and a balcony that offers a view of the sea. The bed is bookended by matching bedside tables also created in reclaimed driftwood. Here the eaves supply fascinating nooks, while a near-invisible spacious storage area gives way a luxurious bathroom encased in red-veined Rosso Levanto polished marble.
Throughout the house original artworks in vibrant colours break up the white wall space including three original artworks by Rozanne Bell. The others are originals that have been purchased the owners while on their travels in Cuba and Croatia. Rooms echo each other with shades of grey, white and soft blues alongside bright splashes of teal, yellow and purple in the textiles and accessories.
Outside the wraparound patio offers different seating areas which allow you to chase (or hide from) the hot glare of the sun or cooler climes. The house is fitted with Sonos technology offering smart network of wireless speakers that fills the house with pure sound, room by room. Speakers are discreetly set flush into walls and ceilings and was installed by Tim at Richer Sounds in Plymouth.
Grab your surfboard from the storage area outside and explore further to the National Trust-owned Crantock Beach which is all soft sand and dunes on the River Gannel estuary. There are also wildlife-rich grasslands of Rushy Green rising up behind them. At the far end of the beach is the headland of Pentire Point West. This small stretch of coast and the slopes above Polly Joke beach are popular in early summer for their amazingly vibrant displays of wildflowers.
‘The church has been very amenable neighbours throughout and we hope they are pleased with the results of the former vicarage,’ add the owners. How could they not be!
Find out more about staying at Trewhella through perfectstays.co.uk