Jo Allchurch has used the tones of sea and sand to decorate the interior of her Scottish seaside home.

Jo Allchurch has used the tones of sea and sand to decorate the interior of her Scottish seaside home.

A Victorian terrace in the beautiful village of Elie, near St Andrews.

Jo was brought up in Glasgow, but holidayed here as a child, and ended up going to nearby St Andrews University. ‘My mother moved to the village full time eventually, so the area very much feels like home,’ she explains. Now settled with a family of her own in London, it made sense, wishing to visit her mum as frequently as she could, to buy a second home nearby. ‘We needed somewhere with a bit more space, this came on the market and it just felt right. We bought it three years ago now.’ 

Renovating the expansive house long distance was a challenge that Jo had no choice but to rise to. ‘We completely gutted the house, it took a year.’ She employed a local architect, Andrew Forgan, who project managed the process. ‘He was amazing, but coordinating deliveries, particularly off-season when there is no one around, was tricky to say the least.’ However, satisfyingly complete now, Jo and her family can enjoy their seaside retreat to the full, whenever they want, even just for weekends.

Your paint palette can be subtle but still offer variety. We have used tones rather than colours to add interest. There is something for every room in the house, whether you want to be restrained or adventurous. Invaluable to realize when you are restoring a period property.

The house is quirky and unusual. Historically, Elie was a close-knit fishing community. You can tell by scrutinizing the exterior that one of the downstairs rooms now belongs to the house next door. It is possible that in the past the neighbours bought one of the rooms or, if the houses were owned by extended families, when they were passed down from one generation to the next, additional rooms might have been added or taken away, as and when needed.

Now a popular holiday destination for golfers and beach lovers alike, the sunny climate on the east coast is extremely pleasant. Its proximity to the lively university town of St Andrews makes it a desirable place to live all year round actually, but of course it comes to life dramatically in summer.

A stunning artwork by local artist Pat Kramek adds a splash of colour to Jo’s chalky white and pale grey scheme. She has also hung her own paintings around the house, plus some old, vintage prints that she sourced in local antique shops. All will make wonderful family heirlooms.

Structurally the major thing that Jo did was to add a glazed box at the top of the stairs. ‘Originally the staircase had been completely blocked off from the main living space and the hallway was really dark,’ Jo explains. ‘The planners were not keen but we got there in the end and now the house is flooded with light,’ she says.

The upstairs rooms are grander and were always the main formal rooms and Jo suspects that the downstairs rooms were probably servants’ quarters. ‘The first floor rooms enjoy the stunning view of the beach,’ she adds. The house is right on the sea front and has its own patio garden on the beach: paradise on a sunny day! 

Jo rents out the ground floor of her home – available September onwards.


Words: Alison Gibb  |  Photography: Douglas Gibb

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