The spectacular view is not the only talking point of this sensational home in Scotland
THIS PAGE The guest bedroom doubles as a TV lounge, complete with a smart seating area created by combining Boconcept’s Pavia chaise longues with a low-slung coffee table from Habitat
OPPOSITE PAGE A large skylight located above a glass walkway allows light to flow from the top of the house to the bottom
PREVIOUS PAGE Because the view from the first floor packs a powerful punch, Naylor and Chesbrough included large folding glass doors from their bedroom to the balcony
For Carole Naylor and John Chesbrough it was love at first sight: an idyllic spot perched on top of greywacke cliffs, overlooking the Solway Firth and boasting views of the Cumbrian hills and beyond. “There was once a holiday home here and then somebody demolished it, applied for planning permission and started to build, before abandoning it,” explains Naylor.
That was how it remained until the couple stumbled across the plot by chance and instantly saw its untapped potential. “We weren’t looking for a place to set up home,” Naylor laughs. “John’s a sailor and he’s just completed his half circumnavigation; we’d both sold our houses and were preparing to go and live on the boat fulltime.” The couple quickly realised, however, that this peaceful corner of the world was where they wanted to settle. “It’s like our own private haven,” adds Chesbrough. “We regularly go walking on the beach and we don’t see anyone for miles.”
The couple agree that the following five years were “challenging.” In the midst of project managing the build of their new home, handling the accounts and sourcing all the necessary materials, Naylor was working towards a PHD. Meanwhile Chesbrough, who is retired, divided his time between managing the contractors and working on the house himself. Their efforts were all the more impressive, considering that they worked to Passivhaus standards, dramatically reducing the ecological footprint of their home. Passivhaus, or “Passive House,” is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world with 30,000 buildings realised to date. It promotes achieving thermal comfort in a home or a building solely by post-heating or postcooling of the fresh air mass without the need for additional recirculation of air.
“It made building just that little bit more difficult and expensive,” admits Naylor. The size and shape of the plot, its exposed cliff-top location, and the couple’s desire to live a healthy outdoor lifestyle dictated the “floating” construction of the house—its cantilevered first floor, clad in weatherboard to withstand the unpredictable Scottish weather. “We wanted the house to feel as though we are living on a boat,” says Chesbrough. “So we continued the floating concept inside with wallmounted vanity units in the bathrooms, a bespoke floating oak staircase and floating island unit in the kitchen.”
The ground floor is perfectly attuned to Chesbrough and Naylor’s relaxed lifestyle, incorporating a communal kitchen, living, and dining space as well as rooms for privacy. “There are times when you just want to retreat, which is why we have included a small room and ensuite off the main living area,” explains Naylor. “We also both have ageing parents so, if needs be, we can turn it into a ground-floor bedroom if they want to come and stay.”
Naylor and Chesbrough’s preference for minimalist, understated spaces goes hand in hand with the aesthetics of their home; it’s a harmonious mix of natural materials, neutral colours and clean
CLOCKWISE Antonio Citterio’s Freetime sofa for B&B Italia brings a sense of vitality to the space, complemented by the Barcelona coffee table from Knoll; a floating island unit topped with Caesarstone Titanium creates a striking focal point in the contemporary kitchen; the open-plan living space allows light to flow from one end of the house to the other. Naylor and Chesbrough love to relax and soak up the view from their Dwell three-seater sofa
“We wanted it to be clean and contemporary and we didn’t want it to dominate and draw attention away from the view”
lines that allow the view to take centre stage. Floor coverings run from black basalt in the kitchen and slate in the master ensuite to carbonised bamboo in the living room. Walls are painted crisp white to create the perfect blank canvas, pepped up by occasional hits of colour introduced through carefully-selected accessories. And to keep rooms free of clutter, a wealth of storage is cleverly hidden behind oak panelling. Chesbrough previously lived in a traditional Cotswold barn and Naylor in a Yorkshire Dales cottage, so nothing they owned complemented their new contemporary surroundings. “Throughout the build I continually frustrated John by arriving with pieces of furniture when there were just a few blocks in the ground surrounded by bags of cement,” laughs Naylor, who describes their style as ‘coastal contemporary.’ “When it came to decorating, I had to be practical. I bought a few key pieces such as a B&B Italia sofa in the lounge, which our black-and-white collie, Murphy, loves to sprawl across, and offset these with more accessible pieces like a dining table from Boconcept. This is not a show home, I didn’t want to be precious about everything; I wanted everything to be functional.”
Things needn’t be expensive to catch Naylor’s attention. “The fabric of the cushions on the sofa is actually from Ikea,” she reveals. “I had given up hope of ever finding the right fabric when I popped into Ikea for some napkins and saw it. I knew instantly they would look exactly right.”
One of the couple’s biggest challenges was finding the perfect kitchen company. “We went to a lot of the big-name designers, but eventually I found Robert Lockwood of Keller Design Centre in Lytham, who understood exactly what we wanted to achieve,” says Naylor.
“This is not a show home, I didn’t want to be precious about everything; I wanted everything to be functional”
Forming the backdrop to the kitchen are hand-lacquered kitchen cabinets that blend into the wall. Centre stage is a large floating island unit, topped with a slender Caesarstone Titanium worktop to lend it a weightless look. “We wanted it to be clean and contemporary,” says Chesbrough of the kitchen, “and we didn’t want it to dominate and draw attention away from the view.”
Naylor and Chesbrough’s pared-back palette of whites and greys continues in the master bedroom, which—like the rest of the house—is tastefully decorated. Once again the star of the show is the view, seen through vast folding doors which the couple keep open on balmy summer nights. “It’s exactly like being on the boat,” says Chesbrough. “You hear the same noises—the birds, the sea. It’s fabulous.” There are tasteful décor details too, such as a pale grey carpet that takes its cue from the colour of the sea and a fabulous free-standing bath in the ensuite bathroom. “I’m a bit of a bath person, so I like to take a glass of wine and a book and disappear for a few hours,” says Naylor. “You can lie in the bath and look straight out of the window into the canopy of the forest.”
The house is testament to Naylor’s excellent eye for detail (honed by her early career as an interior designer) and Chesbrough’s building expertise. “All the creative decisions were mine and all of the engineering, practical, and construction decisions were John’s,” Naylor explains. “He’s a real genius in that he can take one of my simple thumbnail sketches and make it work as a building.” Having achieved their perfect long-term residence for enjoying their active outdoor lifestyle, the couple have no plans to move house any time soon. “We sail, we walk on the beach for two to three hours every day, we go birding. We absolutely love this place and the coastline is spectacular. To us, it’s paradise,” says Naylor.
THIS PAGE A large window floods this elegant space with light. The understated Denmark dressing table and Ripple chair are both from Dwell
OPPOSITE FROM TOP Seamless indooroutdoor living was pivotal to the couple’s brief. Natural light washes in through floor-to-ceiling windows, which were chosen so that they remain close to nature; the smooth curves of the free-standing Monaco bathtub from Victoria & Albert echo the style and shape of the Khroma countertop basins from Roca. The wall-hung vanity unit picks up on the “floating“theme seen throughout the house