Dawn and Steven Totty have meticulously remodelled and extended their coastal cottage using local tradespeople and a palette of natural materials.

Buying a secluded stone farmhouse – which they would go on to extend and remodel – in the North York Moors National Park proved to be a life-changing decision for Dawn and Steven. “We’re both born and bred city people, but we’d always holidayed in this area when our children were growing up,” explains Dawn. “At first we thought about buying a holiday cottage for short breaks, but finding Bramblewick convinced us to relocate permanently from Sheffield.”

The Project

  • Name: Dawn and Steven Totty
  • Build cost: £90,000
  • Build time: 4 months
  • Location: Yorkshire

The couple first viewed the coastal property in 1999, but almost turned back before they reached it. “We’d been given roundabout directions which made it seem more remote than it actually is, but when we finally reached Bramblewick we instantly fell in love with the place,” says Dawn. “The whole of the bay opens up in front of you, with huge views and open skies.”

Built on a hillside, the pretty farmhouse looks down over the World Heritage coastline of Robin Hood’s Bay and is surrounded by rolling countryside. Originally built in the 1800s from sandstone with a pantile roof, the house was in relatively good condition when Dawn and Steven bought it 13 years ago — although the garden was virtually nonexistent. They focussed on the garden first, creating plenty of vantage points to take in the views, and then converted the former stables into a holiday cottage which could be rented out to generate income.

“It took years before we finally turned our attention to renovating our own home, and because we couldn’t rent out the attached stables cottage while the building work was going on, we gave ourselves just three months to finish everything,” says Dawn, who took on the role of project manager. “We started in September 2011 and worked through the winter, with the aim of eating Christmas dinner in the new extension.”

A local architect was employed to draw up plans for a single storey extension, with a kitchen to one end and a glazed conservatory-style dining area to the other. A wall of glass would be introduced to allow the stunning sea views to be enjoyed to full advantage. The existing kitchen within the original house would be converted into a spacious entrance/snug, while the former dining room would become a study.

The Tottys remained living in the house throughout the project, despite internal and external walls needing to be demolished. Foundations were excavated for the timber frame extension, which has been faced in sandstone to match the existing house, and new timber windows were made by a joiner and have been painted dark grey.

“We used local people we’d employed before and the builder bought in structural materials such as the stone and pantiles,” adds Dawn, who worked to a strict £90,000 budget. “It was my job to source the flooring, kitchen and bathrooms, and to make sure everything arrived on site when it was needed. We tried to use natural materials wherever possible, including oak flooring, stone tiles and slate worktops.”

The end result is a charming rural cottage surrounded by landscaped gardens of moorland heather, lawned suntraps and sheltered terraces. “We never tire of the wonderful views and of life in the country,” says Dawn. “It definitely makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

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