Take a peak in this stunning seaside home
PUBLISHED: 13:28 14 December 2020
©Andreas von Einsiedel 2018, All Rights Reserved
By raising the roof of a dated house and reconfiguring the layout, Clare Willison and Murray Johnstone have created a striking coastal home with boho touches
Following in their children’s footsteps, keen surfers Clare Willison and her husband, Murray Johnstone, upped sticks and relocated to a house that’s just metres away from one of the UK’s top surfing beaches.
‘We are all extremely passionate about surfing and, since our grown-up children had already made the move to Cornwall and loved the lifestyle, it made perfect sense for us to join them in this beautiful part of the world,’ says Clare.
When they began househunting, the experienced self-builders kept an open mind. Realising that the location and view would be a priority, the pair took their time, scouring the coastline to find somewhere special.
‘Over the years, we’ve built several houses and were quite prepared to tackle a renovation project, if required,’ says Clare.
After months of searching, Clare, an artist, and Murray, an entrepreneur, eventually discovered their holy grail – a dated property overlooking Fistral Bay in Newquay.
‘Although our last coastal home was in a great location, the outlook didn’t compare to this magnificent, mesmerising vista,’ says Clare.
While viewing the property, the pair agreed that the hallway was uninspiring and gloomy, and that the first floor felt cramped and claustrophobic.
Since Murray is 6 foot 4 inches tall, they began to think of ways of gaining more headroom to makethe house feel more spacious.
‘After much discussion, plans were drawn up to, literally, raise the roof and radically transform the property,’ says Clare.
The pair were keen to create a contemporary, light-drenched home with an open-plan first-floor layout, large windows and glass balconies, which would maximise the spectacular, ever-changing sea views.
They also wanted to extend outwards at the front to gain space for roomier ground-floor bedrooms.
While considering the reconfiguration, the decision to turn the staircase proved to be a lightbulb moment.
‘This idea meant that we’d have a much lighter, more uplifting entrance hall,’ says Clare. ‘The flow throughout the whole house would be hugely improved and there’d be a much more airy feel, right from the moment you stepped inside.’
Another inspired decision was to remove a wall at the rear of the house, and replace it with glass, sliding doors that lead out to the garden.
‘As the back garden is south-facing, we wanted light to stream in, even on the dullest of days,’ says Clare.
Since the house is in such an exposed location, the couple decided to clad it in hard-wearing Millboard decking and build a smart porch in slate. Zinc was chosen for the new roof.
‘All the mellow, grey tones of the exterior were deliberately selected to echo our coastal surroundings,’ says Clare.
With Murray project managing, and a team of trusted builders hired, the six-month build went smoothly.
When it came to decorating, Clare and Murray painted the walls white throughout to act as a neutral backdrop for their vibrant artwork. They then injected more colour with carefully chosen pieces of furniture and soft furnishings, some of which have been collected during their travels to various far-flung locations.
‘This home has a very different vibe to our previous beach house – a much more bohemian feel,’ says Clare. ‘Although we’ve brought many cherished belongings with us from West Sussex, this was an opportunity to inject our Cornish home with some new finds, particularly in regard to artwork.’
While turning her attention to the interiors, Clare invested a lot of time and effort into getting the lighting just right.
‘Higher ceilings gave me the opportunity to source some statement pendant lights, which add impact,’ she says.
Since moving to their new abode, Clare and Murray have thoroughly embraced the next chapter in their lives.
‘We absolutely adore living here and never tire of the spectacular views,’ says Clare.
‘To be able to walk out of the front door and go for a coastal stroll or surf with our family is magical – and something we never take for granted.’