A Townhouse with Cottage Charm

PUBLISHED: 14:15 24 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:27 20 February 2013

Bernadette Flathers

Bernadette Flathers

In the heart of Padstow, Kirrin Cottage has undergone serious transformation. Words and photos by Ian Wilkinson

In the heart of Padstow, Kirrin Cottage has undergone serious transformation. Words and photos by Ian Wilkinson

Padstow hardly needs an introduction, its reputation spread far and wide by the traditional May Day celebrations and, in later years, by a certain well-known restaurateur and his dog Chalky! Now there are several fine dining restaurants (not all owned by Rick) and the town is becoming known as the foodie capital of Cornwall.
Kirrin Cottage lies at the very heart of the town in Mill Square, which is just a stones throw from the North and South Quays and the waterfront area. It is tucked away at the end of a relatively narrow passageway and therefore isolated from the hustle and bustle of the street. It is a modest two-storey house with a bay-windowed front elevation and at first I imagined that in days gone by it had been a traditional fishermans cottage. However, the classical front entrance door and the fact that the house extends back by some distance indicates that it is somewhat grander.
The new owners of Kirrin Cottage are Bernadette Flathers and her husband, John. Bernadette is a solicitor based in Sheffield but has been a summer visitor to Cornwall since the birth of her two young sons and was therefore no stranger to Padstow. We inherited a house from my mum and dad in the north of England, says Bernadette. That house was sold and with the proceeds I wanted to buy a holiday home in Cornwall to remember them by and also somewhere that we could let out when we werent able to be here. It was my sister who found the cottage initially, and I fell in love with it immediately.
We managed to buy it at the right price, says Bernadette. But the amount of work that needed to be done was daunting. When my two sons saw it for the first time, in the autumn half-term of 2009, they were shocked and I could tell from their faces that they wondered what on earth their mum had bought!
The works were indeed substantial. The cottage was very damp, the gable end wall needed taking down and rebuilding and a new roof was required. Various internal alterations, including the formation of a new family bathroom took place, and the property needed completely rewiring, replumbing and a central heating system installing. Bernadette decided to use a firm of local builders to undertake the work and has nothing but praise for the job they did. They worked so hard over a period of seven months to achieve the result that I wanted. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they were real craftsmen, taking infinite care over their work, with an attention to detail and quality of finish that was impossible to fault. We were very lucky.

The first time I walked through the front door I thought this is where I am meant to be

The standard of the builders work and the quality of materials used, coupled with sympathetic design and Bernadettes desire to retain as many original features as possible is evident in every room but perhaps most noticeable in the kitchen. New units with beautifully crafted granite worktops blend in perfectly with the slate floor, giving a very traditional feel to this room, which is accentuated by the circular pine dining table and chairs. There is nothing traditional about the kitchen gadgetry, which includes a state-of-the-art oven and microwave, a glass ceramic hob, refrigerator, and a touch of luxury here a wine cooler. Bernadette explains. I wanted the kitchen to be fit for serious cooking. Meals in Padstow mean fish. Thats why so much effort went into installing an effective cooker extraction hood, so that you dont get fishy smells throughout the house. And the kitchen layout and choice of utensils have all been chosen with a view to practicality and to making cooking a pleasure rather than a chore.
The front sitting room is a light and airy room, helped by a large bay window and a vibrant colour scheme. Im not frightened of colour, says Bernadette. I spent hours going over colour charts and finally settled on this. It was the last room the builders decorated and just before they started, they phoned me to tell me that they thought I had ordered the wrong colour. Far too bright Bernadette, they said. But I think its fine this room can take it! The furnishings in the sitting room are comfortable and traditional and the wall opposite the bay window is dominated by a woodburning stove set in a slate fireplace and topped by a substantial oak mantle. Padstow is lovely in November and December with all the Christmas preparations in hand and I love going for a walk on the beach and then coming home to a real fire, says Bernadette.
The staircase to the first floor is flooded with light from an original stained and etched glass window one of the features that Bernadette insisted on keeping. The second bedroom is entered through a light oak panelled door a feature of all three bedrooms in the cottage. A traditional Victorian fireplace occupies the far wall. Just another example of how good the builders were, Bernadette tells me. The fire surround was far too large for the inset and grate, so they rebuilt it to the proportions that it is now. Brilliant!
The third bedroom on this floor belongs to Bernadettes two sons, Michael and Peter, aged ten and seven. It is furnished and decorated with a nautical theme and the two boys love it.
Adjoining this room is the family bathroom, with a tiled floor and underfloor heating, which is large enough to accommodate a bath as well as a spacious walk-in shower.
A new staircase leads to the master bedroom on the second floor. The original beams have been retained and exposed, as have the timber floors. There are lovely views of the harbour from the newly constructed wooden double glazed windows, and at the far end is a door leading to a balcony with views over the sloping rear garden and patio.
Bernadette is justly proud of her new home. I love Padstow and I love this house. The very first time I walked through the front door I thought this is where I am meant to be.

Kirrin Cottage is available to let. For further information visit www.wi-staria.co.uk

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