It takes many of us a lifetime to discover that treasure lies closer to home than we think, but when Robert Amstad was trying to find a property to live in a few years ago, he realised that a building that he had owned for 30 years – Hastings Antiques Centre – could be transformed into a home for him, and bring him closer to his twin passions: sailing and collecting art.

Rob stripped back the kitchen walls to reveal painted wood panelling

Rob stripped back the kitchen walls to reveal painted wood panelling

Dried flowers sit in a vase on the window sill

Dried flowers sit in a vase on the window sill

It has taken vision and a huge amount of hard graft to scrape away the years of cover-ups and ‘improvements’ that had been layered onto the walls and floors of the house

It has taken vision and a huge amount of hard graft to scrape away the years of cover-ups and ‘improvements’ that had been layered onto the walls and floors of the house

The open-plan living area is home to part of Rob’s collection of artworks. The paintings are almost overwhelming in their power and the house with its tall, predominantly white walls and delicate, scraped back detailing, recedes modestly and elegantly into the background to allow the paintings their full presence

The open-plan living area is home to part of Rob’s collection of artworks. The paintings are almost overwhelming in their power and the house with its tall, predominantly white walls and delicate, scraped back detailing, recedes modestly and elegantly into the background to allow the paintings their full presence

At one end of the room, Rob’s son’s spacious studio is tucked away behind a door

At one end of the room, Rob’s son’s spacious studio is tucked away behind a door

“I don’t like curtains – or carpets,” Rob says. “I only feel comfortable on boards.”

“I don’t like curtains – or carpets,” Rob says. “I only feel comfortable on boards.”

The windows and the floors may be bare, save for the shutters and a few carefully placed rugs, but the effect isn’t stark at all, more pared down and simplified, a careful peeling back to reveal the architecture and the integrity of the house...

The windows and the floors may be bare, save for the shutters and a few carefully placed rugs, but the effect isn’t stark at all, more pared down and simplified, a careful peeling back to reveal the architecture and the integrity of the house

A door from the living room leads into the master bedroom. Rob has seamlessly combined an eclectic mix of contemporary and antique in each room

A door from the living room leads into the master bedroom. Rob has seamlessly combined an eclectic mix of contemporary and antique in each room

Rob’s love of sailing becomes more evident as we travel through the house; his wonderful office with its captain’s desk has a definite nautical feel about it, but the elegant dimensions of the room – the high Georgian ceiling, elegant decor and large window, albeit with a sea view – are more Admiralty office than Captain’s cabin

Rob’s love of sailing becomes more evident as we travel through the house; his wonderful office with its captain’s desk has a definite nautical feel about it, but the elegant dimensions of the room – the high Georgian ceiling, elegant decor and large window, albeit with a sea view – are more Admiralty office than Captain’s cabin

A matching pair of Adam fireplaces have been installed, one painted dark grey, the other white

A matching pair of Adam fireplaces have been installed, one painted dark grey, the other white

The ceiling in the room adjacent to Rob’s office features an ornate plasterwork ring that Rob painstakingly recovered under layers of polystyrene ceiling tiles. “I had to remove the ring in sections and then replace it,” he says

The ceiling in the room adjacent to Rob’s office features an ornate plasterwork ring that Rob painstakingly recovered under layers of polystyrene ceiling tiles. “I had to remove the ring in sections and then replace it,” he says

The intricate wrought-iron bed, gilded furniture, chandelier and zebra rug juxtaposed with the stripped floorboards and crisp white walls, work together to create a sense of faded luxury

The intricate wrought-iron bed, gilded furniture, chandelier and zebra rug juxtaposed with the stripped floorboards and crisp white walls, work together to create a sense of faded luxury

The juxtaposition of light and dark in this house is emphasised in the bathrooms. There are two good-sized rooms – one white and one black – both have a striking painting in a similar position; in the white bathroom there’s a picture of a skull by Ben Eine and in the black, a raw and intense painting by Alice Maylam titled ‘Out of the Dark’ which features a face protruding into the light and provided the inspiration for Rob’s bold colour choice...

The juxtaposition of light and dark in this house is emphasised in the bathrooms

There are two good-sized rooms – one white and one black – both have a striking painting in a similar position; in the white bathroom there’s a picture of a skull by Ben Eine and in the black, a raw and intense painting by Alice Maylam titled ‘Out of the Dark’ which features a face protruding into the light and provided the inspiration for Rob’s bold colour choice

There are two good-sized rooms – one white and one black – both have a striking painting in a similar position; in the white bathroom there’s a picture of a skull by Ben Eine and in the black, a raw and intense painting by Alice Maylam titled ‘Out of the Dark’ which features a face protruding into the light and provided the inspiration for Rob’s bold colour choice

A duck keeping an eye on the bathroom

A duck keeping an eye on the bathroom

Rob has stylishly renovated the original seventies flat roof, raising and glazing it, using a wrought-iron framework. This light filled and elegant space provides a stunning entrance to the property

Rob has stylishly renovated the original seventies flat roof, raising and glazing it, using a wrought-iron framework. This light filled and elegant space provides a stunning entrance to the property

There is a definite Parisian feel to the roof terrace and the atrium that Rob has stylishly renovated

There is a definite Parisian feel to the roof terrace and the atrium that Rob has stylishly renovated

It’s a charming space; we could be in Paris, but for the smell of the sea and the seagulls around us

It’s a charming space; we could be in Paris, but for the smell of the sea and the seagulls around us

He raised and glazed the roof, using a wrought-iron framework, and has turned an uninspiring space into a light filled and elegant entrance to the property

He raised and glazed the roof, using a wrought-iron framework, and has turned an uninspiring space into a light filled and elegant entrance to the property

There is evidence of hotel paraphernalia, collected over the years, around the house

There is evidence of hotel paraphernalia, collected over the years, around the house

There is something about the sea that attracts artists to the coast: the light, the drama of the ever-changing sea and sky, the visceral forces of nature

There is something about the sea that attracts artists to the coast: the light, the drama of the ever-changing sea and sky, the visceral forces of nature

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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