Art Deco dream house
20 years ago, Judith and Tony were out for a walk and stumbled across their dream home in the upmarket Essex coastal town of Frinton-on-Sea.
Judith takes up the story: “I’d not long met Tony and we saw the house totally by chance. I fell in love with it even though it was a bit of a wreck. There were only a few like it on the road and the position was amazing.”
Over the last two decades, Judith and Tony have sensitively renovated and lovingly re-decorated their seaside home. Now in their late 70s and early 80s, the couple has also remodeled the garden, creating a perfect blend of period authenticity and contemporary touches.
However, this is no ordinary ‘cottage’ but a perfect example of Art Deco architecture and forms part of a unique development created in the 1930s by architect Oliver Hill.
With striking clean lines and flat roofs, the houses are reminiscent of Miami’s famous South Beach. Originally over one thousand properties were planned as part of the vision for the town, but as Judith explains: “The war came along and put a stop to the building, but additionally the people of Frinton weren’t too keen. They felt the development wasn’t in keeping with the area. Now the houses are incredibly sought after.”
What makes the house so special for Judith and Tony isn’t just the outstanding architecture, which Judith jokingly describes as looking like “A shoebox from the front and the French Riviera from the back,” but the stunning views from the bedroom balcony. Judith describes one of their favorite pleasures is enjoying breakfast on that balcony overlooking the sea.
So, when Tony was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and began to struggle with mobility, there was still a deep-seated motivation to get upstairs and share those special breakfast moments on the balcony overlooking the sea. That, and the thought of having to leave the home they had so lovingly restored, meant that Judith sprang into action.
As a former occupational therapist (OT), Judith immediately knew the importance of home adaptations that could keep Tony mobile, and safe.
She tells us how she arrived at choosing a Stiltz Homelift as the way forward for them both: “I realized early on we would need to put something in place to help Tony, especially with the stairs. However, our stairs are dog-legged so a stairlift wasn’t going to be the best option for us. Also, with Alzheimer’s being a progressive condition I was concerned a stairlift would only be a short-term solution. Then I saw a Stiltz Homelifts advertisement in the Radio Times, and decided to get in touch.”
Being a near-unique house of such architectural merit meant it was really important to find the right solution; one that was both practical and safe yet didn’t detract from the property’s decor.
The Joneses chose the Stiltz Duo+ Homelift, which they located in the alcove next to the fireplace in the living room giving Tony access straight up into the bedroom above.
“It’s been the perfect answer for us,” says Judith. “The installation wasn’t at all stressful, everything was organized through Stiltz and we didn’t have to arrange anything ourselves, which really took the worry away for us.”
Now the lift has been installed for a while, Judith talks about how Tony is able to keep his daily routine going.
“Every morning he likes to get up and go downstairs in the lift to feed our two cats. He’ll make us both coffee and bring it back upstairs so we can have it in the bedroom, looking out at the sea.” She continues: “It gives him continued independence and it’s also a great help for me as he can, for now at least, get around safely. It has given us back a bit of our life as it used to be.”
On a lighter note, Judith laughs when she recounts that one of their cats, Harry, adores the lift. “We love our cats and Harry especially, is obsessed with Tony. He’s always followed Tony everywhere and now even gets in the lift with him and rides up and downstairs.”
Alongside the wonderful, unique home, Tony used to have a workshop tucked away in the much-loved garden. The workshop has now been converted into a cinema room where Tony enjoys watching films.
“He especially loves operatic movies like Carmen and it’s another way we can both spend time together,” says Judith.