Property provenance
This limestone property was built in 1703 as a warehouse for Davy’s shipbuilding yard before being converted to a house in 1910. Grade II listed it is within the conservation area and historic port of Topsham. A number of intriguing reclamation pieces have been incorporated over time; some gothic stone mullion windows, panelling from several churches and most notably, a ship’s figurehead mounted on one corner overseeing the Exe estuary. A huge dry dock still exists in the garden.

Client approach
After living and working in the South East’s financial sector and in Switzerland, our clients had returned to their Devon roots. The couple fitted out the property to a superlative standard taking great care to ensure that the renovation was sensitive to both the building and the area. Their positive and collaborative approach helped ensure that the complexities of the project were navigated smoothly.

What was the challenge?
Being a historic building you never quite know what will be uncovered as the work begins. Moreover, a haphazard history had applied many different influences to the house. When the project began, there were barely two similar rooms. No door was the same, and there were six or seven different types of ceiling styles throughout the building including the main bedroom which had both a flat and vaulted ceiling. In the late 1980’s the building had been split into two houses, before being re-combined more recently. This fuelled the internal jumble because rooms of duplicate functions such as kitchens had been retained.

Louise Crossman Architects helped our clients reimagine the property, seeking to retain its unique features and eclectic nature whilst bringing a unified theme to them. They sought to create a genuinely striking home.

Getting the substance right
Raleigh Property worked intensively on site for 6 months. All timber windows were refurbished or replaced and alterations to the internal layout removed duplicate rooms. The building was rewired, replumbed and redecorated. A new log burner was installed along with underfloor heating. Generous levels of bespoke joinery provided fitted wardrobes and new hardwood panelling, plus the restoration and extension of parquet flooring.

Finishing with flair
After discussion, the flat ceiling in the master bedroom was removed to make it all vaulted, and a glass balcony installed to take full advantage of river views over the Exe. Fitting out was undertaken with the highest quality of paints and fixtures, and great attention to detail. Externally, the gutters were replaced with pressed aluminium, alongside repairs and improvements to the hipped slate roof, the courtyard and the historic stone retaining walls.

Adapting to changes
Of course it’s the nature of historic buildings that things change during a project.  Managing Director of Raleigh Property, Luke Denno observed that “as the building takes shape and comes to life, it also becomes easier for clients to imagine how it will look. We like to be proactive about suggesting alternative solutions and work closely with the architect to give the client options. We incorporated 100 variations here but mitigated their impact on the programme by first-rate project management.”

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