Sallyann Cox used her creative talents to extend a small bungalow and make the most of the delightful coastal views.
Idon’t want to live in a bungalow – I’m not ready for that!’ was interior decorator, stylist and maker Sallyann Cox’s reaction when her husband R ichard suggested it. It was back when the couple were regularly spending a few months at a time sailing around Greece and knew a lock-up-andleave home would fit the bill. The idea became a sad necessity, however, when Richard was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and had to use a wheelchair. ‘We’d looked at so many places, none of which were suitable,’ remembers Sallyann. Finally, and with no real enthusiasm, she went to see a small, two-bedroom bungalow almost untouched for nearly 50 years and had a change of heart. ‘During the viewing, I walked into the cluttered garage and noticed a tiny window on the side – one glimpse at the view and I realised there was so much untapped potential here,’ she recalls. The house itself had effectively been built facing away from ever-changing views across fields to the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary much beloved by the couple. ‘I knew that by doing some rejigging to the garage, I would be able to make a special place where Richard could enjoy sitting and watching the ebb and flow of the tides, and the boats down on the water – it would be a nourishing environment.’ In the end, Richard was not able to move in as his illness progressed quickly, but, after his death, Sallyann decided to continue with their plans. ‘It was very hard to be there without him and, for the first couple of years, I didn’t do much at all apart from replacing the bedroom window with French doors onto a little balcony; I had a constant need to get outside rather than be cooped up, so opening up the house as much as I could became a priority.’ Two years later, when she felt able, Sallyann began work on the rest of the house. The garage and carport were demolished and replaced with a sleek extension. ‘I knew I wanted an open-plan space where I could cook, eat and relax,’ she says. The original rooms were reorganised making an extra bedroom and guest bathroom, as well as a large, bright hall where Sallyann makes lighting and mirrors from items she salvages on nearby beaches. ‘I’ve always been drawn to the sea, whether living on it or near it and I’m always out collecting all manner of things!’ Her creative eye has also been used on the interiors. ‘I’ve designed and decorated shops and restaurants in the past, invariably in vivid colours with a Mediterranean influence, but in this house, I’ve been more restrained with lots of neutrals. I decided to think of it as a blank canvas that I could add to or remove from if I felt like a change.’ There are still pops of colour evident in the soft furnishings and the odd wild wallpaper and vintage find. ‘I used to have a lot more furniture and general “stuff” but we sold practically everything when we went off sailing. I had to start again which is surprisingly cathartic, if expensive!’ Renovating the house also proved to be a turning point. ‘It was completed in nine months and I barely had time to think about much else as there were so many decisions to be made but it was good to engage with something,’ she says. So has Sallyann been converted to bungalow life? ‘I actually feel really lucky to live here,’ she says. ‘The house makes for such easy living and with beautiful views, too – it’s an absolute privilege.
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