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 😉
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?