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“The Lookout” by PMR Architecture

February 29, 2024

Not far from the bustling fish and chip shops, souvenir stalls and buckets and spades of Paignton’s seafront on the idyllic South Devon coast is a quiet street in a spectacular location. On one side of the road are the quaint and colourful beach huts synonymous with English holiday resorts; on the other a collection of houses that are a perfect example of “a stones throw from the sea”. Spectacular views and stunning outlooks over the sea from Hope’s Nose to Berry Head, these houses are so close to the sea that you could quite literally skim stones from their terraces.

It was here that Mr and Mrs Smith, who were living in the neighbouring Torquay at the time, came across the tired old Lookout Hotel. An abandoned building gradually being eaten away by the storms and the sea; unloved and on the verge of falling down. However, this dilapidated hotel had a huge amount of character with its lighthouse-esque turret, New England verandas and mock Tudor timber work.They knew this site had potential to create a stunning home fit for Grand Designs and they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create something amazing.

They realised that such a project would provide a huge number of challenges and it was at this point that their paths crossed with local RIBA chartered architecture practice PMR Architecture headed up by headed up by Paul Rose, John Collar and Ashley Harrison’. With offices in South Devon and East Sussex they have a huge amount of experience in designing bespoke new build houses and renovating coastal homes to create spectacular designs that defy the wind swept elements of the South coast and work on projects from conception right through to completion.They were the perfect partners to help the Smiths develop their dream.They sketched out the plan to replace the collapsing hotel with a stunning new build house which would retain the characterful elements of the site’s previous life.The site, proposed house and surrounding buildings were all painstakingly modelled in 3D software, demonstrating the vision of what this project could be to the Smiths, the neighbours, and the local planning department.When it was time to get boots on the ground to make this dream a reality local building company Lee & Lee Extensions & Conversions were brought in to realise this ambitious project.

Located on a tight site, exposed to the full force of the wind and weather, the build involved a huge amount of teamwork and relied on the teams extensive knowledge to ensure the project developed smoothly. During the process, the neighbouring hotel came up for sale and Mr and Mrs Smith saw the opportunity to purchase the site and develop this into two striking new homes to really make their stamp on their local area whilst the build was ongoing.

The finished design’s ‘jewel in the crown’ is the reinstatement of the turret; a spectacular circular room off of the master bedroom featuring the best of the views and complete with domed ceiling lit up like a starry night sky.The turret forms a key focal point to the outside of the house, including the curvaceous red zinc roof and base of curved brick that forms the porch to enter the house.Through the front door you enter a light washed vestibule space before passing through the glazed partition into the main living space.A curved ceiling overhead with discrete LED lighting and a sunken conversation pit adorns this open plan kitchen / living / dining room.

Taking you to the upper floors is an elegant spiralling oak stair crafted by local master craftsmen Radford Joinery adorned with copper balusters and huge slot windows like a giant version of those in a lighthouse takes you up to the upper floors. Every floor features an expansive balcony overlooking the sea and each providing a different perspective on the esplanade below.

The aforementioned master bedroom features a jacuzzi bath and spacious dressing area whilst two smaller bedrooms include fun features and bold pattens for when the children and grandchildren stay over. On the top floor is another stunning bedroom within the apex of the roof. From the bed your view of the sea is entirely uninterrupted.The ensuite features a bold freestanding copper bathtub and a waterfall shower. A cinema room is tucked away to the rear of the house alongside a top lit cosy office and a gym; all complete with bespoke joinery that really show the Smiths tastes and personality in the fittings. Hidden behind the property is a concealed Moroccan-style garden including beautiful handcrafted tiles, a perfect space for entertaining during the balmy South Devon summer evenings.

Now fully settled into their new home, Mr and Mrs Smith said of the process:

“The process to develop our dream home at The Lookout has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’ve felt fully supported by the team throughout.We feel that we’ve really made our mark with the house and have been able to express ourselves within the build.There have been challenges along the way but we never doubted PMR Architecture’s ability to turn each of these difficulties into an opportunity to create an even better house at the end of the project.”

The couple are looking forward to spending long evenings sipping a glass of something cool on the balcony and making the most of being so close to the beach. Its not just the perfect location in the sunny days of summer ; but during those atmospheric autumn and winter storms where the sky will change almost minute by minute and provide a dramatic backdrop to the warm and luxurious spaces of their new home.The neighbouring houses will be coming to market in the new year and will offer similarly spectacular views and design toThe Lookout.

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