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Reconfigure Or Move?

Author: Fern Godfrey

After much deliberation, we decided to convert our one bedroom Newquay apartment in to a two bedder. There were lots of reasons why: location wise, we LOVE where we live (30 seconds walk from Fistral Beach) and as yet, we’re not sure exactly where in Cornwall we want to put down our final-home roots. We’d love to build our own house one day without needing an eye wateringly large mortgage. Deciding to convert the apartment allows us to save and hopefully make that dream become a reality. It’s also easy to manage so I don’t spend all my spare time cleaning, and it’s safe and secure to leave when we go away for work or to see family.

The Legal Stuff

It’s probably rare to find an apartment where doing conversion work is a) necessary and financially viable and b) not a massive legal hassle. Our apartment was quite large for a one bedroom apartment and even by adding another double bedroom we haven’t reduced the living space. We’re also lucky that we own a share of the freehold, rather than it being a leasehold property and that our neighbours were all very accommodating and patient with the noise and mess. We did however encounter a big issue with Building Regulations which made us very nervous for a while. More on that to come…

The Before Shots

What We Did

The work was completed last June/July. An apartment is tricky to work in and our bedroom became the storage room (and Matt’s living quarters) for the whole project. Having a toddler around was totally impractical, so Elle and I moved between our families for the duration of the build. Matt borrowed showers, dinners, cups of tea and storage from neighbours and friends – which we’re really grateful for as it meant he could project manage and labour, helping us to keep costs down. We also happen to have an NCT friend who is a builder, so naturally he was our first choice when it came to the building work (thanks Josh).

I’ll be honest – Matt did all of the design and chose all of the finishes, so this is just me relaying a list written by him to you 😉

Floor plan

Firstly the boys removed the partition wall to create an open-plan living space and to allow in more natural light. We’re big fans of open plan living, it works really well for our family and the apartment faces North West, so anything we could do to allow more light in was a good idea.
The whole project almost went pear shaped on day one however, when the Planning Officer came round and told us we couldn’t remove the wall due to fire safety regulations (it was almost completely demolished at this point). This meant we had to install a sprinkler system in every room, in order to comply with building regulations and not compromise on the open-plan design (the other option was to put the wall back up…) Luckily there is a large void between our ceiling and the floor above us, meaning that we haven’t lost any ceiling height. It was however, a costly addition to the budget which we hadn’t considered.

The next stage was to move and downsize the kitchen. Josh our builder managed to save the kitchen units, the boys just rejigged them to work in the space. We transferred all the electrical goods too – apart from the fridge. As I had to relinquish my lovely double height one for an under cabinet one, Matt found me an amazing Siemens one which is like the Mary Poppins bag of the fridge world. The only real expense to the kitchen was a new worktop. As we didn’t want to replace the current one with a lesser quality version, this meant purchasing a new piece of granite. Of course Matt insisted on being one piece with no joins. A pricier option, but to be fair to him it does look really smart.

The After iPhone Shots

The kitchen was moved forward to allow room for Elle’s new bedroom. We’ve added glass panels in the wall at the top of the kitchen and a glass door to let in natural light and a ventilation system pumps fresh Atlantic Sea air into her room from outside, so although it doesn’t have a window, it still feels cool, airy and is a nice place to be. This was probably our biggest concern – will it feel really dark and dingy without windows?! Should we add more glass? We toyed with the idea of using glass bricks, but it was all getting a bit 70s doctor surgery and now we’re really glad we didn’t.

While we were doing all of this work, it made sense to improve the bathroom. The suite and tiles are both Villeroy & Boch. The tiles were a pricey option but they are so lovely I genuinely like to go into the bathroom just to stroke them.

A new darker floor was used throughout. Matt laid the floor horizontally (it was laid vertically previously) to maximise the open plan feel of the living space. We wanted wooden floors in the bedrooms too as with a toddler and a dog by the beach; carpets just aren’t fun to look after. Finally, floating shelves were added throughout the apartment to give us some much needed storage space.

There are still a few things to do until we’re totally happy with the space – kitchen shelves, splashback/tiles and bedroom wardrobes. But overall we’re really happy with how the conversion has turned out. Our family life works really well here and everyone who visits can’t believe that we’ve added another room without it feeling like we’ve lost any space. Hopefully we’ve made a few quid in the process too. (Matt wrote the last line – eye roll).

Has anyone else been in a similar position where you decide to remodel rather than move?

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Author: Fern Godfrey

31 thoughts on “Reconfigure Or Move?

  1. Flipping building regs! It looks great- so glad it all worked out.

    Although… a Fern’s House Hunt series would be lovely. Cornwall at its best!

  2. It looks lovely! I’m totally jealous of your seaside lifestyle. I live in landlocked Nottingham and would love to be nearer to the sea. Elle’s room looks lovely. Xx

  3. Fern you all did such a brilliant job!!! Your living space is still so spacious considering you’ve added in a whole new double bedroom, and totally brilliant that Elle has her own space. So jealous of you being a stones throw from Fistral Beach, we’re definitely road tripping down to you soon 😉 x

  4. The little beach huts outside your balcony made my heart do a little dance Fern! What a fab conversion x

  5. Your new bathroom looks SO good Fern! And laying the floor horizontally makes such a difference. I’d be delighted with the results too. I’m jealous of your views. 🙂

  6. Fern your apartment must have been absolutely humongous before! Even with the addition of Elle’s bedroom the living space still looks so spacious and light and airy. And just look at that super slick bathroom too…I’m not surprised you go in and stroke the tiles every so often. What a brilliant before and after! Well done you xxx

    1. Thanks Lolly, not the same level as doing a whole house, but a good learning curve for when we do make that step! Glad the bathroom has your approval – yours are beautiful 🙂

  7. Good work Fern! Lovely to see how an internal re-jig can make a ton of difference. To create an extra room and still have a living space which includes good size kitchen, dining area, a lounge and an office nook is like magic. I often dream of more space but maybe we just need to get a bit more clever with what we’ve got. I would have been a bit worried about the lack of windows in Elle’s bedroom but you’ve addressed it pretty well with the ventilation and glass panels from the kitchen and it sounds like it was a compromise worth making to be able to stay in such a lovely location.

    1. It really was a cavernous space before, with such a lot of dead space and it felt really cold because of the aspect, so thank you for your comment, we are really pleased with it. And the added bonus of Elle’s room is that the summer daylight doesn’t affect her sleep too much 😉

      1. That is true – we now often have the “it’s not dark yet, sunshine is up” argument in the evenings so I can definitely see the up side to that one.

    1. Hi Rebecca, they are just from B&Q 🙂 (Real Wood Top Layer) We went for a dark shade and got wider ones than we had previously. We have underfloor heating so were slightly limited on options, but this one is lovely and feels like a really nice quality underfoot x

  8. Ooh how nice, I love reading the RMS blog from bed before I get up in the morning. It’s really nice to see someone in the south west (I’m in Somerset but really I’m part mermaid and spend as much time at the seaside as possible). I love what you’ve done to the flat, it’s gorgeous. I’m pleased to see you re-used the kitchen because I wsa initially thinking ‘ooh that kitchen is nice’ and then realised that was a before shot!

    1. Thanks Claire aka Bunny! We dithered over whether or not to replace the kitchen, as it’s not necessarily what we’d chose ourselves BUT it’s really good quality and is very neutral, plus this isn’t our forever home, so keeping it was the most sensible option 🙂

      I think my daughter will be part mermaid as she’s Cornish through and through x

  9. Excellent job, thanks for sharing with us! Loving those bathroom tiles too, gorgeous. I would go in there to stroke them too 🙂 We’re considering doing a loft conversion soon once we have saved up the pennies, much cheaper than moving but a pricey thing to do nonetheless. And I agree – I’d love to see a house hunting with Fern series in the future!! Shamefully I’ve never been to Cornwall but it looks beautiful!

    1. Ahh Annie come down – it’s so beautiful! I’d love to share a house hunting series, although we all know how up and down the house hunting process is!!!

      I love loft conversions, our friends down here have just done one and moved their bedroom up there – the light is SO gorgeous!

  10. This looks amazing, I wish I had the patience to do a remodel, I just want to move into the perfect house but budget does not allow! I would also love to live by the sea, I worked on a cruise ship for 4 years and miss the ocean so much.

    1. Thank you! Although a flat remodel is slightly less work than a whole house remodel 😉

      Could you move closer to the sea Laura, or is that not possible with work etc? xxx

  11. Honestly? I was scrolling up and down, thinking to myself “that is not the same flat, they are kidding!” Amazing how much it changed and really lovely and cosy. I absolutely adore the bathroom and totally understand you for stroking the tiles!

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