Interior designer Diana Harvey was lucky enough to grow up in Strangway House, this week's fabulous Hot House, by the sea. These days Strangway House is used for holiday lets and location shoots, but is still very much enjoyed by Diana and her husband, sons and daughters-in-law and lots of friends. We spoke to Diana to find out what it's like to own a little piece of the English coast. To see more of the property, check out the picture gallery below.
Diana, please tell us about the history of the house and a little about the work you've done to it.
The age of the house is early 1700s. It's Grade II listed and has been in the family since 1937. It was my family home and I grew up there with my brother: an idyllic childhood by the sea. Apart from an extension in the '60s, the house had all its original features but was in great need of renovation. Work started in 2007 and it took two years and over 100 skips! The house is built on shingle (on the beach), which meant we had to under-pin and recycle many bags of the shingle. The original kitchens were in the basement and these were regularly flooded by the sea when we were children. This level was closed up in the '60s. Now the sea defences are much improved, allowing me to reinstate a kitchen and games room back in the basement with access to the sea. A modern food and wine bar has been added to the ground floor for easy entertaining.
I have exposed the original mellow brick walls and beams, pine panelled walls, and the original cast iron bath on its lead tray. In the basement I discovered a beautiful kitchen range covered over for a hundred years and preserved by sand - still in working order.
Was it tricky to marry up the original much older part of the house with the modern extension?
Once I had the shape of the modern extension on paper, which started off as a doodle of 'a wave', everything fell into place. To combine the two periods was easy, with designer lighting and running a French oak floor of six metre lengths from front to back on the ground floor, linking the modern curves, glass and steel design with the 1700s. All the bedrooms, which incidentally have names, have their original floorboards and each ensuite bathroom has its own character. The old cast iron bath was re-enamelled in situ and this room is called Antiquity.
Do you have a favourite space in the house?
My favourite space would be the Infinity Bedroom leading out on to the wave shaped terrace with clear views of France and the extent of Hythe Bay round to Dungeness.
Is there anything you would change about the house?
There's nothing I would change - it has a great atmosphere and is easy living with all modern devices.
As well as it being your home, the house is also a shoot location. Has the house been used for anything we might have seen?
The house has featured in Country Homes & Interiors last summer, a Slimming World Magazine shoot and was also featured in the Kent Coast edition of May the Best House Win this year.
Can you ever see yourself selling, or is this the dream house?
I would like Strangways to stay in the family – it's wonderful being lucky enough to own a piece of the English coast.
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