Beach-front house makes the most of its coastal locale

A house in North Berwick is finally making the most of its assets, thanks to a thorough reconfiguration to let in the views

Those quirks that pass as charac­ter to some home­owners are nothing more than bugbears to others. Little idiosyncrasies – squeaky floorboards, narrow stairs, tiny windows – that are part and parcel of life in a period property are often the first thing to go in a renovation project. Kevin and Andrea Gibson, the owners of this North Berwick home, wanted to combine the best bits of their traditional three-storey Victorian townhouse with modern upgrades that would serve their growing family. Making the most of its enviable beach location was top of their wish list.
“We bought the house knowing that the existing layout didn’t meet our needs,” says Andrea. “There was a series of small rooms on the ground floor and a very old, dilapidated lean-to sunroom that you’d struggle to fit three people in. As a family with three young children, we knew we needed to make better use of the space. We also wanted to bring more light into the house.”
Key to the renovation was creating a connection between the house and its setting, and giving it a contemporary look while retaining the heritage of the house. To this end, the Gibsons approached Helen Lucas Architects; the Edinburgh practice had been recom­mended by a family friend who had seen examples of their work, including Helen Lucas’s own holiday home. Ros Living­­stone, lead architect on the project, began by surveying the building and sketching some initial ideas based on the clients’ brief. The emphasis, for Ros, was on how the family would really use the space. “We were asked to focus on the stair to the attic and to provide a better connection to the garden,” she explains.
Initial consultation with the planning department proved fruitful; the proposed dormer window on the rear side of the roof was rejected, but the large sloping window that was eventually installed was approved. The gradient meant that there was more head height inside when moving upstairs – you no longer have to cling to the banister to make it safely up a level – but it also conforms to the exterior requirements, retaining the roofscape view from the beach. “It has worked really well,” agrees Ros. “It’s simply a wall of glass, and the views are beautiful from up there.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 104-110, issue 96.

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Words Catherine Coyle
Photography Angus Bremner
Architect Ros Livingstone at Helen Lucas Architects, 0131 478 8880
What Upgraded and extended seaside townhouse
Where North Berwick
Brief To create a sunny family holiday home
Timescale Nine months