‘The Out­doors In­spired Our Scandi-style House’

Aileen and Gor­don Spink looked to nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and their lo­cal sur­round­ings to give their home a clean, con­tem­po­rary look

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Lo­cated in a tiny ham­let just out­side Ar­broath on Scot­land’s east coast, Gor­don and Aileen Spink’s mod­ern self-build home is set on a plot of land they bought with friends 12 years ago – but it’s not their first self-build. ‘We de­cided to build one house straight away and save a sec­ond plot for the fu­ture,’ ex­plains Gor­don.

When the Spinks and their friends bought the site it was home to sev­eral derelict farm build­ings, but they ob­tained plan­ning per­mis­sion to de­mol­ish these and de­sign six new houses on the land in­stead. ‘Now, 12 years later, the site has evolved into a com­mu­nity of six be­spoke de­tached houses,’ says Gor­don. ‘They all share a sim­i­lar con­tem­po­rary style, but have their own in­di­vid­ual char­ac­ters.’

The cou­ple un­der­took the de­vel­op­ment with their long-term friend and ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer Heinz Voigt, whose practice is lo­cated nearby. The cou­ple and Heinz were keen to de­sign a home that would re­flect the sur­round­ing land­scape and mix in well with the ex­ist­ing lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture, as well as cre­ate a space that would max­imise nat­u­ral light.

‘As the house is set in such a ru­ral lo­ca­tion, we wanted its de­sign to ac­knowl­edge the tra­di­tional farm build­ings around it,’ ex­plains Gor­don. ‘The ma­te­ri­als we chose re­flect them, too – we opted for nat­u­ral stonework and a mix of ren­dered walls and tim­ber cladding to root the house in its sur­round­ings. It doesn’t feel overly rus­tic though – the house is def­i­nitely 21st century in its style and spirit.’

Inside, the ground floor has a en­trance hall that opens into an open-plan, dou­ble-height kitchen-diner. There are full-height, glazed, slid­ing doors at one end, which lead to a cov­ered seat­ing area out­side. Fur­ther

inside is a main bed­room and en suite, a spare bed­room and a snug-style liv­ing room, which also features fold­ing doors that open onto a court­yard. ‘It’s very much an inside-out­side home, with pa­tios all around,’ says Aileen.

‘One includes a glass-cov­ered area, which is great for alfresco lunches. The cli­mate round here is often sunny but it’s windy, too, so proper shel­ter is re­ally im­por­tant.’ The ex­te­rior and main liv­ing room feature dry-stone walls built us­ing stones from a lo­cal quarry, help­ing to in­te­grate the house into its sur­round­ing land­scape and re­in­force its in­door-out­door feel.

Up­stairs, there are two ad­di­tional bed­rooms, a bath­room, a sec­ond liv­ing room with a south­fac­ing bal­cony and a small study area on the land­ing. In or­der to con­nect the two lev­els vis­ually, Aileen and Gor­don cut voids into the upper floor, cre­at­ing a greater sense of height and space. ‘At one end of the din­ing area, a tall thin win­dow runs from the ground floor to the roof, which also helps to bring the space to­gether,’ says Gor­don. ‘Both floors now get plenty of light, which was such a pri­or­ity for us. We have long win­ters up here in Scot­land and want to en­joy as much sun­light as pos­si­ble.’

In terms of style, the Spinks added mod­ern el­e­ments to both the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior of their home. ‘We took in­spi­ra­tion from Scan­di­na­vian de­sign, as we love the sim­plic­ity of that look,’ says Aileen. ‘The use of warm, nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and a pared-back pal­ette

‘It’s very much an inside-out­side home, with pa­tios all around. One includes a glass-cov­ered area – great for alfresco lunches’

means that the house never feels cold. In our last home, we took a more ‘coun­try-chic’ ap­proach, us­ing chunky, nat­u­ral wood fin­ishes, but now our chil­dren have left home we wanted a change, so we’ve gone for a more stream­lined and con­tem­po­rary look this time.’

In keep­ing with their love of Scan­di­na­vian de­sign, the cou­ple opted for neu­tral colours and un­fussy dé­cor. ‘Out­side, we painted the win­dows and cladding in soft greys, and kept the in­te­rior fur­nish­ings mod­ern and min­i­mal,’ says Aileen. ‘We used tex­ture to add in­ter­est, in­stead of ap­ply­ing too much colour.’

Inside, their home is brought to life by nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als and the house’s bold struc­tural de­tails, rather than heav­ily pat­terned wall­pa­per or vi­brant paint. When it came to choos­ing fur­nish­ings, Aileen fol­lowed her in­stincts in­stead of wor­ry­ing too much about whether pieces she liked would work as a col­lec­tive look. ‘The house is a real mix­ture of things we love – we found some items on hol­i­day, oth­ers lo­cally and more stuff on­line, and some­how it’s all come to­gether re­ally well,’ she says. The house also features a hand-made kitchen, fur­ni­ture made by lo­cal join­ers and buys from ebay, which all add to its be­spoke feel.

Us­ing a pale colour scheme through­out cre­ates a use­ful back­drop for the cou­ple’s col­lec­tion of art­work. ‘Our daugh­ter, Hay­ley, went to art school, so some of the paint­ings are hers,’ says Aileen. ‘And we’ve been keen col­lec­tors for years, so it’s great to have the space to show off all the art­work.’

Now that Aileen and Gor­don’s house is fin­ished, the cou­ple love its sense of calm and tran­quil­lity. ‘Its beauty is in its sim­plic­ity,’ says Aileen. ‘We’ve kept ev­ery­thing pared back and nat­u­ral to re­flect how we like to live.’ Thanks to the house’s open-plan lay­out, it’s also full of so­cia­ble spa­ces that are ideal for fam­ily life. ‘Our get-to­geth­ers are ca­sual and fun, with our grand­sons run­ning around both in­doors and out,’ says Aileen. ‘We al­ways wanted the house to be mod­ern and spa­cious, but not too pre­cious – now ev­ery­one who vis­its can re­ally en­joy it.’

3 Liv­ing room THE COU­PLE FELT THAT THE WOOD BURNER WAS A MUST TO KEEP THE HOUSE TOASTY DUR­ING SCOTTISH WIN­TERS For a sim­i­lar wood burner, try the Fire­belly FB1, from £1,295, Stoves Are Us

6 Guest bed­room A MODERNFOUR-POSTER BED ADDS IN­TER­EST TO THE MUTED ROOM SCHEME For a sim­i­lar bed, try the Pim­lico, from £995, The White Com­pany

7 Main bed­room FLOOR-TO-CEIL­ING WOODEN SHUT­TERS SOFTEN THE ROOM’S CON­TEM­PO­RARY LOOK For sim­i­lar shut­ters, try a se­lec­tion, Hil­larys. Musica dou­ble bed, £1,999, Gil­lies

9 Pa­tio THE CON­TEM­PO­RARY METAL DIN­ING TA­BLE AND CHAIRS TIE IN WITH THE HOUSE’S MOD­ERN GLAZ­ING

For a sim­i­lar din­ing set, try the Hart­man Amalfi with eight chairs, £1,199, Char­lies Di­rect

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