Yorkshire Interiors - a stunning Victorian apartment in Sandsend

PUBLISHED: 16:53 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 16:54 13 August 2013

Susan Goss Clements on the beach at Sandsend

Susan Goss Clements on the beach at Sandsend


It only needed careful thought and some tender loving care to turn a ground floor apartment into a very desirable coastal hideaway. Heather Dixon reports Photographs by Jeremy Phillips

Painted furniture and layers of soft furnishings create a sumptuous look in the main bedroom at the back of the apartment, where the lounge, dining room and kitchen used to bePainted furniture and layers of soft furnishings create a sumptuous look in the main bedroom at the back of the apartment, where the lounge, dining room and kitchen used to be

Few people would have looked twice at the dated Victorian apartment in Sandsend on the Yorkshire coast. With its uninspiring exterior and back-to-front room arrangement, it didn’t exactly shine as a coastal des-res. But the scene from the bedroom window was breathtaking - a wide panorama of the sandy beach and ever-changing sea – a view which was irresistible to Susan and Bob Goss-Clements.

‘It was stunning,’ said Susan. ‘As soon as we saw it we knew the apartment had huge potential. It was, quite simply, the wrong way round. The main living rooms were to the back when they should have been overlooking the beautiful sea front.’

So Susan and Bob bought the two bedroom ground floor apartment and promptly redesigned the interior. ‘We literally took it all back to a shell,’ says Susan, who over-saw the project. ‘I didn’t want to compromise. It seemed much better to start again.’

The apartment had been a cafe for many years until it was converted into a flat. It had remained unchanged for decades until Susan and Bob had the vision to transform it. Their aim was to turn one of the two bedrooms into the kitchen, the second bedroom would be turned into the sitting room, and the old sitting room towards the back of the property would become the main bedroom. An en suite shower room would be created in the original galley kitchen.

But Susan’s plans were delayed for three months while she waited for planning permission to change a large plate glass window into a more attractive bay. With planning approval, she launched into the three-month renovation project which involved putting in a damp proofing, sound proofing, rewiring, re-plumbing and installing a new kitchen and bathroom fittings.

The main window was taken out and a new lintel put in to prop the wall ready for the bay. ‘I would have loved to have timber windows, but the weather and salt water can cause a lot of damage so I decided to go for PVC.

‘There was a point, when all the walls had been stripped back to the bricks, that I wondered what I had taken on,’ said Susan. ‘My husband and I have renovated properties before and there is always a low point where you think it can’t get much worse, then suddenly you turn the corner and everything starts to pull in the right direction.’

Once the building work and decoration was complete, Susan turned her attention to the interior. ‘I believe in taking inspiration from a property’s location,’ said Susan. ‘I wanted to make it a coastal, Scandinavian style home, but in subtle ways. I think you can achieve a lot through the choice of colour and materials, so went for natural wood, soft pastel colours and natural fabrics. I wanted it to be elegant, luxurious, relaxed and beachy, all at the same time.’

The apartment also had to work on a number of levels. As well as being a holiday home for herself, husband Bob and daughter India, the apartment would also be a high quality holiday-let. ‘The challenge was to make it personal, so it was home from home for us, and practical so that it was easy to maintain,’ said Susan.

To achieve this, Susan decorated throughout in Farrow & Ball colours and furnished the apartment with a combination of pieces she already had, items bought specifically for the apartment and bargains found in sale rooms and antique shops which she painted to create the soft, coastal style. She then created the luxurious textured look with layers of soft furnishings, adding pictures, mirrors and items combed from the beach.

‘The apartment has been completely transformed,’ said Susan. ‘When I saw it for the first time it was dark, dingy and unwelcoming and totally the wrong way round. Now it’s light and beautiful. Living by the coast is amazing. Every day is different. The views and atmosphere change by the hour. There is nothing I like more than opening the doors and listening to the sea, or sitting by the kitchen window with a cup of coffee and watching the world go by. It’s very restorative, very healing. When we live in a world that is always rushing against the clock it’s fantastic to be able to come here and slow down time. It’s the best feeling in the world.’

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