From Butchers to office to swanky seaside apartment, we take a look at the renovation journey of Acanthus of Southwold’s ‘Treasure Chest’
Rebecca Rix-Meo has been involved in the family business Acanthus of Southwold for over 16 years and took full ownership five years ago. A busy little independent holiday letting agency based in the heart of Southwold she had always admired the talents of people buying unloved or forgotten period properties on the Suffolk coast and breathing life back into them.
Coming from a family who had, all her life, bought and renovated lovely period properties in Suffolk and Norfolk from Lord Nelson’s mothers 16th Century Grand house near Beccles to old country pubs, she said: “I feel like I have always, as a child, lived in a pile of brick-dust!
“Over the years I have been green with envy, each time I visit a stunning new property to arrange renting it out and end up going home wanting to re-design my own house! In fact, we had just finished renovating our Victorian house in Diss, which we bought at auction and we had one of those ‘morning coffee moments’ of revelation…Our beautiful 1840s office in Trinity Street had a whole top floor dedicated to, well, absolutely nothing!”
After careful planning Rebecca and her husband set about transforming the had been storage area into a luxurious holiday let.
“We had to really look after the buildings fragile fabric which is steeped in history, from its original ownership as stores for Adnams, and then later a much loved butchers shop,” she explains.
The renovation revealed old hardwood timbers with unusual markings and cuts, which Rebecca was convinced were “washed up from an old wreaked ship off Walberswick in the 1800s” but it led to the naming of the apartment; ‘The Treasure Chest’.
Dedication went into restoring the apartment with any timbers that were removed carefully put back as features such as a bench seat for the dining area and window ledges.
The renovation was complete in five months and detailed attention was given to create a light and airy interior.
Rebecca said: “Everything was sourced locally, funky little items of art were purchased from ‘Wow’ vintage in Southwold and local craft and antique shops. Items of furniture were handmade and hand painted by a company in my home town of Diss ‘Hilary and Alice’. Our stunning table was lovingly handmade by Norfolk reclamation Nr Norwich.
“Everyone who worked on the project were local trades who we have known and worked with for years.”
The ‘Treasure Chest’ is a gem on the Suffolk Coast appealing to young travellers and couples looking to escape the city for a short break.
“It really makes it so worthwhile when we have delighted guests and when I take a step back and realise what we have made really from nothing,” adds Rebecca.
“I have to now stop myself thinking about the next project – don’t tell my husband I said that!”
‘The Treasure Chest’ can be booked at www.southwold-holidays.co.uk or 01502 724033