A short walk from the beach in St Leonards-on-Sea, this wonderfully calming house was created by renowned designer Sasha Waddell who took design cues from its seaside location. The house has a brilliantly beachy finish with lye-treated floorboards, tongue-and-groove panelling and light pouring in from large windows taking centre stage. Set across 1,196 sq ft of space, the house unfolds over three storeys with a lovely courtyard garden. It is wonderfully connected, with easy access to the rest of the UK from the nearby rail station, with trains to Charing Cross taking 90 minutes.
Setting the Scene
Sasha Waddell was named as one of the most influential designers of the last decade by House & Garden magazine. A pioneer of the now very popular Scandinavian aesthetic, Waddell describes her interiors as ‘the essence of the 18th and 19th-century Swedish style – a cool and simplified interpretation of ornate French classical decoration’. With work varying from consulting for the Venice-Simplon Orient Express to designing apartments in Goa, Sasha Waddell’s inimitable eye is unmistakable. It is typified at Shepherd Street, which is fresh, elegant and full of light. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The majority of the ground floor is given over to the open-plan sitting and dining room, which flows seamlessly into a kitchen and outdoor courtyard. The spaces have been finished in white or off-white, creating a calm and relaxed atmosphere; the floor is laid with pine treated with Swedish lye, giving a bleached finish, brightening the rooms.
Dual-aspect, the open-plan sitting and dining room is flooded with light, with a widow at the front of the plan overlooking the street and French doors at the rear opening to the courtyard. Bespoke bi-fold cupboards sit in the alcoves that flank the fireplace in the reception area, creating very pretty storage, and central heating is hidden behind handmade radiator covers.
The galley kitchen is clad in whitewashed tongue-and-groove panelling, adding to the nautical aesthetic. Bespoke cabinetry is also white, maximising light, and is topped by a pale Carrera marble countertop with a large, ceramic butler sink cut into it. A set of French doors open up the space and lead to the courtyard garden. A spacious utility room with a WC lies at the back of the plan.
Upstairs, the primary bedroom overlooks Shepherd Street. It has also been finished in tongue-and-groove panelling with whitewashed walls and floorboards. On one wall, wardrobe space is hidden by bespoke bi-fold doors, and in the alcove next to the original fireplace, a cupboard has been built-in. A secondary bedroom, currently used as an office and workspace, has leafy views over the courtyard garden.
A large, tranquil bathroom sits next to the main bedroom and has been finished in the same whitewashed tongue-and-groove. A tiled walk-in shower has a vintage Crittall window inserted to make the most of the light; a bespoke hand basin and vanity round off the room.
On the second floor, the open-plan space is currently used as a guest bedroom with useful storage hidden behind curtains in the eaves. The space has original Regency floorboards, again painted white, and light floods into the room from a skylight.
The Great Outdoors
The house is centred around the beautiful and secluded courtyard garden. The perfect suntrap, it is home to well-established winter jasmine and clematis, which line a whole wall and create a wonderfully fragrant oasis. A cleverly designed faux summer house sits at the end of the garden, creating more garden storage.
Out and About
Locally considered the ‘artists quarter’, Shepherd Street, Norman Road, Gensing Road and Mecatoria consist of charming Regency streets a short walk from the ocean; a hub of galleries and restaurants, the area is famous for being home to the Hastings Antique Centre, Lucy Bell Gallery, Project 78 Gallery and the Fleet Gallery. For the culinarily inclined, there is Galleria Seafood Bar, Tommy’s Pizzeria and St Clements Restaurant – the Kino Teatr and Heist Market are also within strolling distance.
Hastings is close, as is Bexhill-on-Sea (home to the De La Warr Pavilion). The area’s rejuvenation is perhaps best epitomised by the additions of the Jerwood gallery by HAT Projects, which opened in 2012, and a new pier by dRMM, which opened in 2016 and was awarded the 2017 Stirling Prize for architecture.
Trains run from St. Leonards Warrior Square to London Bridge and Charing Cross (journey times approximately 90 minutes) and Brighton (journey time around one hour).
Council Tax Band: A
This house is one of the first built on Shepherd Street, which originally consisted of just three houses constructed between 1830 and 1833.
St Leonards-on-sea was the brainchild of architect James Burton and later his son Decimus. The resort was a Regency playground that continued to be developed east and westwards along the coast until the early 20th century.
With echoes of London’s Marylebone and Belgravia, the Burton’s previous projects, St Leonards became well-known for its wooded slopes framing grand townhouses, villas, shops, public buildings and entertainment spaces. Extensive pleasure gardens were available for residents with a subscription, and the town’s stuccoed frontages became increasingly desirable holiday homes for those in London.
James Burton’s grave is marked by a classical pyramid in the churchyard of St Leonards Church. After he inherited the design project from his father, Decimus lived in St Leonards for the remainder of his life.
Princess Sophia of Gloucester stayed at Gloucester Lodge (formerly Castellated Villa) in 1831, whilst Princess Victoria and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, resided in the town at Victoria House for the winter of 1845-35. Most famously, Queen Adelaide passed a winter in St Leonards in 1837.
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