As you’re probably aware by now, I am based in Dartmouth in South Devon and I count myself lucky every day to be able to live in such a beautifully stunning location. I have grown up here and spent most of my life living here, except for a brief period of study when I moved away for my degree and a couple of years spent living in Bristol. When I was younger I never appreciated living here and couldn’t wait to move away, convinced that city living had more to offer. It was only when I did move away that I realised how much I love this little town and all its quirks. Before long I was back living here and I saw my home town through new eyes.
The past few weeks have seen the town basked in brilliant sunshine and there has been a distinct holiday vibe as thousands of tourists flock here to sample the lifestyle that I am lucky enough to live and breathe every day. The unique location of Dartmouth means that we are surrounded by stunning views at every turn. Situated on the banks of the River Dart, right beside the sea and in the middle of the countryside, Dartmouth is a real gem. But Shhhhhh….don’t tell too many people as I don’t want my little town overrun with even more tourists. It’s hard enough to park as it is!
As you can see from these photos that I’ve taken of Dartmouth and of Kingswear across the other side of the river, the people who live here on the river banks benefit from the most stunning views. It’s easy to take it for granted when you live here and it’s obviously the reason why coastal towns like Dartmouth, Kingswear, Stoke Fleming, Strete, Kingsbridge and Salcombe prove to be such popular holiday destinations.
There are some absolutely beautiful properties right on the river front which have their own docks for their boats so they can sail right up to their properties. However, due to the hilly nature of the area, even the houses right up the top of town have stunning views over the river or right out to sea. And often those that don’t still benefit from valley views. My own flat looks right out over some really picturesque valley views that feature fields and forests, not quite as lovely as these views but I still count myself very lucky.
But as I was thinking about writing this post, the one thing that struck me about having such fantastic views from your home, is the importance of choosing windows and doors that will allow you to really make the most of your view. To find inspiration, I needed to have access to these views from inside people’s homes. I needed to see what they see from their windows or balconies. Not easy, so I turned to the next best thing. I trawled the holiday letting sites for this area so I could see all the homes with windows out onto the river or the sea. I wanted to see how their choice of windows, doors, window dressings etc affected their view.
It was so interesting and to be honest, there weren’t really that many properties that inspired me. I think people tend to underestimate how important it is to get your windows right and they definitely don’t realise how important the curtains or blinds are. Surely when this is what you see out of your window you would want to make sure you get the best possible view of it right? There was only one property that really stood out to me.
Barrington House in Dartmouth is an elegant historical Victorian property standing on its own gorgeous grounds, beautifully restored and furnished with unbelievable views of the River Dart. It comprises a family home along with three holiday rentals: The Glass House, The Penthouse and The Hideaway. I think you’ll agree that these properties really do make the most of their stunning river views.
The beautiful big bi-fold doors can be opened right up to completely open up the space and blur the lines between inside and out. The glass balcony is an extra special touch that ensures that you can maintain a totally un-obscured view. As the property is not overlooked the owners have not bothered with fussy window treatments as curtains and blinds are totally unnecessary here.
So whilst the owners of Barrington house clearly know how to make the most of their stunning views, I was surprised by how wrong other people seem to be getting it. It’s not enough just to have windows and doors, you need the right windows and doors.
Now, I’m no expert here and I don’t pretend to be. But the beauty of me writing this blog is that I have access to a multitude of home experts who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with me and, of course, with you guys too. So when I was exploring this topic it only seemed right to consult a company that specialises in windows and doors and will inevitably have all the answers.
Network VEKA is a nationwide organisation representing only the very best local uPVC window and door companies in the industry. If anyone knows about doors and windows these guys do. So I asked if I could probe Rebecca Clegg, Network VEKA’s glazing expert, to find out how she recommends we can make smart choices regarding the windows and doors that we choose for our own homes if we are lucky enough to have stunning views that we want to make the most of.
Firstly, I wanted to know what the main things to bare in mind are when choosing windows and doors if you live by the sea?
Quality is of the highest importance as the windows are likely be exposed to extremes of temperature as well as storms and will need to withstand deposits from the salt water / sand. All Network VEKA profiles undergo tests to the extremes of temperatures and we are renowned for the ongoing R&D that goes into ensuring the technical integrity of our systems – making them suitable for even the most extreme of locations.
Next, I asked what kinds of windows and doors allow you to make the most of stunning views?
The more glass the better! On our Imagine bi-fold for example, the sash (each door panel) can go up to 1m wide. Other systems cannot compare with this so you get more profile/frame and less glass, which blocks out some of your views. In terms of windows, our new M70 system allows for even greater sizes of sashes (the opening part of a window). It is now possible to get up to 1600mm x 1600mm and even bigger for a fixed pane window, allowing people to truly maximise the views from their home.
One I thing I do know is that living in a seaside location can have a massive impact on the types of materials you choose to use on the exterior of your home. The salty sea air can really take it’s toll on your home so it’s important to make sure you choose materials that are up to the job. I asked Rebecca what she would recommend in terms of the materials for windows and doors when you live beside the sea.
Timber wouldn’t fare too well as the sea salt could rot it and lead to a never-ending cycle of maintenance. In terms of uPVC, this is our remit, and our systems have been used in extreme locations across the UK for over 30 years.
It can be quite difficult to keep your windows clean when you live beside the sea. All that sea air does tend to leave your glass a little less than crystal clear. The salty air, combined with those pesky seagulls who like to defecate all over your home, can leave windows and doors smeary and dull. So any tips for keeping windows clean when you live by the sea?
Self-cleaning glass is a good idea for this type of location, especially if the outer pane of the window is difficult to access. There is a popular glass on the market that has photo-catalytic and hydrophilic properties, and works in two stages:
1)The coating reacts with natural daylight to break down and loosen organic dirt
2) When it rains, instead of forming droplets, the water spreads evenly over the surface of the glass, forming a thin film and helping to wash away any dirt and reduce streaks.
During long dry spells the glass can be cleaned by simply hosing it down with clean water.
Also, keep the frames clean to avoid build-ups of salt/sand by simply cleaning regularly with warm soapy water.
I’d like to thank Rebecca for sharing her knowledge with us. I hope this information is useful for anyone who is lucky enough to live in part of the world as beautiful as South Devon and can look out of their windows to such stunning views, whether they be seaside, valley, forest, mountain or otherwise.
If you’d like to see more stunning views from around Devon and Cornwall you might want to check out the Pinterest Board I have created for Network VEKA entitled ‘Oh I do Like to be Beside the Sea’. This could be especially useful if you’re considering a holiday in the region any time soon. I’ve pinned images from some absolutely stunning holiday cottages here in the South West.