When a former St John Ambulance station in Rye came up for sale, it took interior architect Marta Nowicka only three hours to decide to take on its renovation. After removing endless partitioning and flattening a 1970s extension, she has redesigned it as a unique and spacious family home.

A new set of functional doors have been made in the same style. The double sided wood burning stove and adjacent log pile are housed on a huge concrete plinth, creating a focal point, whether the fire is lit or not

A new set of functional doors have been made in the same style. The double sided wood burning stove and adjacent log pile are housed on a huge concrete plinth, creating a focal point, whether the fire is lit or not

A central feature of the open plan kitchen/dining/living area is a huge dining table, which has been designed to be reconfigurable – it can be a square or a rectangle, depending on how many are coming for dinner

A central feature of the open plan kitchen/dining/living area is a huge dining table, which has been designed to be reconfigurable – it can be a square or a rectangle, depending on how many are coming for dinner

The entrance hall windows look out onto a beautiful old brick wall which is illuminated at night

The entrance hall windows look out onto a beautiful old brick wall which is illuminated at night

A concrete plinth has been cast at the base of the stairs

A concrete plinth has been cast at the base of the stairs

Marta has weaved rope through the metal handrail. Rather than hanging from the ceiling, a huge glass orb has been set down in one corner to provide illumination

Marta has weaved rope through the metal handrail. Rather than hanging from the ceiling, a huge glass orb has been set down in one corner to provide illumination

A family bathroom neatly slots into a space under the sloping roof upstairs

A family bathroom neatly slots into a space under the sloping roof upstairs

Wide limed oak floorboards line the staircase. “I see the staircase running through the centre of the building like a spine,” Marta says

Wide limed oak floorboards line the staircase. “I see the staircase running through the centre of the building like a spine,” Marta says

Marta’s son Lucas’s room has been designed with friends staying in mind

Marta’s son Lucas’s room has been designed with friends staying in mind

The spare bedrooms

The spare bedrooms

Throughout the house, exposed brickwork contrasts with the highly finished, sleek timber cladding and floorboards.Son Lucas’s room has been designed to function as both a sleeping and study or games room. This is achieved through the use of partition doors that open out, or give privacy, depending on requirements

Throughout the house, exposed brickwork contrasts with the highly finished, sleek timber cladding and floorboards. Son Lucas’s room has been designed to function as both a sleeping and study or games room. This is achieved through the use of partition doors that open out, or give privacy, depending on requirements

On both floors there are hints to the building’s former use as an ambulance station in the form of medical and industrial inspired pieces of furniture – a steel and glass cabinet housing towels on the landing, and stripped back metal chairs in the master bedroom

On both floors there are hints to the building’s former use as an ambulance station in the form of medical and industrial inspired pieces of furniture – a steel and glass cabinet housing towels on the landing, and stripped back metal chairs in the master bedroom

“I’ve redesigned it to be a family home with as many bedrooms as possible,” says Marta. “The bedrooms are deliberately small as they’re only used for sleeping – and it’s all about being together. It’s great for weekend gatherings.”

“I’ve redesigned it to be a family home with as many bedrooms as possible,” says Marta. “The bedrooms are deliberately small as they’re only used for sleeping – and it’s all about being together. It’s great for weekend gatherings.”

The master bedroom features an amazing triangular window that spans between the twin gables of the roof from which there are wonderful views of the surrounding buildings and the countryside beyond

The master bedroom features an amazing triangular window that spans between the twin gables of the roof from which there are wonderful views of the surrounding buildings and the countryside beyond

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

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