Looking at a photo of Harbour House in Fife before Glenn Malloy and Steve Davies bought the property five years ago, there is all but a small hint of what the building was to become. “It looked like a community centre,” Glenn reflects; a community centre built, perhaps, in East Berlin in the 1970s. “But we used to drive past and think, ‘Oh, what we could do with that house.’”
The couple, who own a hairdressing salon, Spoiled Hairdressing in Cupar, weren’t in a position to buy it when the house first came onto the market. However, the initial sale of the house fell through and by this time the couple had sold their previous property, so they jumped at the opportunity.
The couple always had a strong vision for what Harbour House could become. There used to be a glassworks at nearby Pettycur Bay and the site of Harbour House was originally home to a roadside café for the factory workers. After the glassworks and the café closed down, the original owner built this house in 1974, literally on the foundations of the café, which explains its long, narrow shape. A subsequent owner extended the property by adding what is now the master bedroom and dining room to the rear.
“Looking from the outside, we didn’t think the house was in as bad a condition as it was,” Glenn recalls. “It was only when we got in and started stripping things out that we realised this was going to be a much bigger job than we’d anticipated.” All the windows had to be replaced, as did the roof, as well as the wiring and plumbing, and a new central heating system was required. The house was also lacking in insulation. “It was almost like a new build as we were stripping the house back to its bare walls and starting again,” says Glenn.
Having tackled previous refurbishments – although always on older properties – the couple weren’t fazed by the scale of this project. As with many renovations, the distinctive style of Harbour House called for a sympathetic approach. When replacing the windows the couple sourced aluminium frames to match the originals. “We replaced like with like as we wanted to keep with that 1970s Modernist feel,” Glenn explains.
Internally, the layout has remained almost as it was. The living and dining spaces are on the first floor, soaking up the stunning sea vistas, as does the mezzanine-level kitchen. There was previously a partition wall at the far end of the living space, with the master bedroom positioned behind, and this was opened up to create the open plan living and dining space, with the dining area in place of the old master bedroom. The new master bedroom was created directly below this space, giving a more logical layout to the ground floor.
The original staircase was also vastly improved. Previously boxed in, the area under the staircase was opened up and the timber balustrade stripped out and replaced with frameless glass, which also features on the terraces. Three Tom Dixon mirror ball pendants provide a dramatic finishing touch. “This is one of my favourite features of the house,” says Glenn.
Throughout, the couple opted for a streamlined aesthetic and chose a monochromatic palette. Ebony-finish laminate Quick-Step flooring extends through the living and dining spaces, with high-gloss black ceramic tiling in the kitchen. The lower level features pale floor finishes – carpeting in the bedrooms, high-gloss porcelain tiles in the circulation spaces – to maximise the light here. The couple were savvy with their costs, which came in at £133,000. “We didn’t have a set budget, but we didn’t spend crazy money either. We got the look by combining things and being careful in sourcing,” says Glenn. The graphite-toned Howdens kitchen units are combined with a combination of slender Corian and chunky laminate worktops, and Bosch appliances.
Similarly, in the bathrooms, the couple combined inexpensive fittings from Bathstore with tiling from Vidaco and bespoke touches such as the laminate worktop for the twin basins in the master en suite.
The project wasn’t always easy. The couple moved into the house while it was still a building site. “It had no bathroom, no kitchen, and we were doing up our salon at the same time. It was pretty much the worst year of our lives,” Glenn admits. It helped that the tradesmen were contacts that Glenn and Steve had worked with previously, while Steve’s brother, James, is a joiner and did a lot of the bespoke detailing as well as fitting the kitchen. Glenn and Steve project managed and had a hands-on role wherever possible.
The result is a stunning contemporary house that basks in the light and fantastic views. And Glenn and Steve aren’t alone in enjoying the fruits of their labour — as they have now made Harbour House available for holiday lets.