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The House on the Beach

22 March 2022

The House on the Beach

A run-down coastal property in West Sussex suddenly caught the eye of Fraser and Elizabeth Ross on a visit to friends in the area. Although they hadn’t been intending to move from East Anglia, the fading Art Deco charm of the house was irresistible. Most importantly, they fell for the location. Its direct access to the beach and panoramic, southerly views of the English Channel, and the backdrop of the village of Middleton on Sea provided the perfect setting.

 
So in 2017 they embarked on a long-distance renovation project and finally moved in just as covid arrived in 2020. The painstaking transformation from uninhabitable to luxury involved weekends spent travelling south by train and cycling the four miles from Barnham station to stay in B&Bs while project-managing the work.
 
Luckily they had a tolerant and capable builder on site. Together, they’ve revealed the classic Art Deco features from the property’s 1935 origins and brought them into the 21st century. The result is a distinctive, light-filled home where the only thing between you and the ripples of the shoreline is your own wildflower garden and the shingle beach. When the tide’s out, sand stretches for miles in either direction.

 
The interior of The House on the Beach is a calm oasis of minimalism with a fresh white interior enhanced by full-width, full-height windows from the main living spaces which provide sweeping sea views to the horizon. The style belongs in any modern magazine, from the black bathroom towel rails to smart underfloor heating throughout. Materials such as new silicon render and upgraded insulation mean the fabric of the house is protected from sea breezes and creates a warm, low maintenance home.

 
Now on the market with Richard Longhurst of Henry Adams in Middleton on Sea with a guide price of £2,000,000, The House on the Beach is instantly recognisable among the more traditionally-styled neighbouring houses which date from the same era.
 
“Although the simple ‘international modernism’ or  Art Deco of this house is the complete opposite of the house we had before, I absolutely love the minimalist style,” said Elizabeth. “It’s low maintenance, easy to clean and the sea views are glorious. It feels seamless with the beach and the sea. There are no roads between us and the shore. We just walk to the end of the garden and we’re on the beach. It’s wonderful here and we’ll be leaving with a heavy heart but we now need to move closer to family.”
 
A key change in the design of the property was a switch in the internal layout. Now the living accommodation spans the first and second floors to make the most of the sea views, complete with roof terraces. Bedroom suites are concentrated on the ground floor - which also has a scullery and library, with their own shower room: this provides the opportunity to create a separate, self-contained annexe.
 
Fraser and Elizabeth have created a perfect ‘working from home’ environment here. You can simply shut yourself away in the library which is ideal if you’re the type to gaze out to sea instead of focusing on the screen.
 
Accommodation is flexible thanks to the revised layout with 4- 6 bedrooms, three of which have ensuite bathrooms, and there are a further three shower rooms. The kitchen is semi-open to an informal dining and sitting room – which provides uninterrupted, south-facing sea views. A lift has been installed to access the top floor where another sitting room (or bedroom 6 with ensuite shower) has full-width windows facing the sea. What a view to wake up to!

 
“There are lots of stories about this house,” says Elizabeth. “The roof terrace is said to have been used by soldiers in the Second World War monitoring boats out in the English Channel. Then the wild parties of post-war years tamed into more sedate 1970s garden parties. These days it’s just wonderful for entertaining friends but mostly we just like taking a stroll down the garden to sit at the edge of the beach and watch the sun setting over the horizon.”
 
Middleton on Sea retains the quaint village feel that the original architects, inspired by Captain Coldicott, had envisaged in the 1920s. Local shops still include ‘Ye Olde Fish & Chippe Shoppe’ and ‘Ye Olde Butcher’, for example, long-since named with a nod to the past and perhaps just a dash of irony. The city of Chichester is less than 10 miles away and Arundel is within 7 miles. From Barnham station, direct trains to London Victoria take just under an hour and a half.  
 
“It’s just a short walk along the beach to the village shops but this location is really quiet,” Elizabeth adds. “The house is at the end of a no-through road and there are no street lights - so at night we can just sit and enjoy the sound of the sea and the dark skies. It’s quite magical.”

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