OCA carried out a full renovation of this early-18th century fisherman’s cottage in the coastal town of Elie in Fife’s East Neuk. The layout of the cottage was virtually unchanged since its construction, albeit with the addition of more modern amenities in the last century. The redesign maintained the original organisation of living and sleeping areas, and focused on aligning the bathroom and kitchen along the back wall of the building to allow the main living space to benefit from natural light and views out across the garden to the Firth of Forth beyond.
Working within the footprint of the existing cottage challenged us to optimise all available space, minimising the floor areas dedicated to circulation in order to free up more space for living, and tucking carefully-designed storage units within the irregular nooks and crannies. The original floor plan was obstructed by a masonry chimney stack, a later addition to the property which occupied valuable space internally. This was removed and the hearth reinstated in its original location to the centre of the angled gable wall, with a new masonry chimney constructed to the gable wall head as it would have been when the cottage was built. To further augment the open and spacious nature of the new interior the main living space was opened up into the roof volume, with the exposed and white-painted timber structure adding a subtle sculptural quality overhead.
The cottage’s interesting quirks and original features were retained throughout: a defunct press cupboard in what was previously the bathroom was brought back into everyday use as kitchen storage; the floor boards were taken up to allow new joists and insulation to be fitted before being carefully relaid and painted; and ironmongery reused from existing doors and windows. New fittings and finishes were selected with simplicity in mind, bringing the cottage into the 21st century while remaining sympathetic to the property’s rich history and character.