START­ING FROM SCRATCH

Cre­at­ing the per­fect re­tire­ment home for the fu­ture is no easy feat, es­pe­cially when faced with a com­pletely blank slate, finds Ni­chola Hunter

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

The cre­ation of a lux­u­ri­ous prop­erty in Auchter­arder

Whilst she’s lived all over the world, for Jo Lewis, Perth will al­ways be home. So, when her un­cle de­cided to sell off parts of his es­tate in Perthshire she and her hus­band John jumped at the chance to plan their re­tire­ment home. The Auchter­arder plot they pro­cured in 2008 was home to the orig­i­nal es­tate farm­house but it was well be­yond res­cu­ing. ‘It was in the most beau­ti­ful spot but there was noth­ing we could do to save it,’ Jo re­calls. ‘That’s how we ended up with a new house. Ul­ti­mately, it’ll be our re­tire­ment home.’ To de­sign the prop­erty, Jo con­tacted renowned ar­chi­tect Robert Adam of Robert Adam Ar­chi­tects in Winch­ester and ‘af­ter a quick chat, we came up with the house’. Jo’s brief does sound rel­a­tively sim­ple. ‘I knew I wanted a south-fac­ing court­yard, that was the most im­por­tant thing, es­pe­cially in Scot­land,’ she said. ‘Once I had that, I was happy for the ar­chi­tect to fig­ure out the rest of the house.’

This isn’t en­tirely true: there’s also a hot tub tur­ret, a pre-req­ui­site of the de­sign that Jo in­sisted upon. ‘If you’re go­ing to have a hot tub, it should have its own tur­ret,’ says Jo, laugh­ing. Jok­ing aside, the nine-bed­room house came to­gether in 11 months. ‘It went rel­a­tively smoothly, al­though it went over bud­get, but don’t they all, es­pe­cially if you have to put in elec­tric­ity, a water sup­ply and roads.’ The orig­i­nal ac­cess road, which had been washed down the hill in a flash flood in 1908, had never been re­placed and there was no water or elec­tric­ity, but that didn’t de­ter Jo. ‘We in­stalled a ground source heat pump so we have our own hot water sup­ply and we have un­der­floor heat­ing, a wood burn­ing stove and a log fire. But be­cause the house is so well in­su­lated, the heat­ing re­quire­ments are ac­tu­ally very low.’ Con­sid­er­ing the house also has an out­door, heated swim­ming pool that’s quite an achieve­ment. ‘It’s not a huge swim­ming pool but I think it’s a re­ally nice thing to have, not just when you’re on hol­i­day but when you’re at home. When you get a nice day that court­yard feels like be­ing in the Mediter­ranean.’ The court­yard, which does in­deed work bril­liantly, was some­thing that had been tried and tested be­fore. ‘My par­ents live in a steading nearby and it has an in­cred­i­ble en­closed court­yard,’ ex­plains Jo. ‘It’s al­ways 10 de­grees warmer than any­where else on the steading so I knew we had to have a court­yard and my par­ent’s house was the in­spi­ra­tion.’ In­ter­nally, in­spi­ra­tion has quite sim­ply come from ev­ery­where. ‘Ev­ery­thing in the house was do­nated, re­claimed, or are our cher­ished bits and pieces. It’s in­cred­i­bly eclec­tic. The pool ta­ble in the games room came from a friend’s house in Wales. They were down­siz­ing so we had to pick that up from Wales. ‘I’m not jok­ing when I say that ev­ery­thing has come from all over the coun­try. One of the bath­rooms is a lovely mix­ture of pieces. The sink unit is made from of­f­cuts of the kitchen floor­ing. The bath, the sink and WC are all from dif­fer­ent ranges but they all look good to­gether. ‘The only real lux­ury in the house is the round din­ing ta­ble. It was made by a won­der­ful guy, A W Murfin, and it’s stun­ning. The light fit­ting above it is made from a cart­wheel we found in the barn at my mum and dad’s house. My dad would reg­u­larly

“It went over bud­get, but don’t they all, es­pe­cially if you have to put in elec­tric­ity, a water sup­ply and roads

go to the auc­tion house in Perth on my be­half and buy boxes of things. I would go through the box, pick what I wanted and send the box back into auc­tion.’ How­ever, whilst the house seems full of colour and vi­brancy, on closer in­spec­tion there isn’t much dec­o­ra­tion. ‘The en­tire house is painted white,’ says Jo. ‘The colour comes from the fur­ni­ture or ac­ces­sories. If you stripped out the en­tire house the only colour left would come from the floor­ing. It means I can change things any time I like. ‘Al­though the house very much has my touch to it, I was con­scious when it came to plan­ning the bed­rooms that it’s im­por­tant each room is as spe­cial as the next and again the beds came from a va­ri­ety of sources. The sil­ver sleigh bed was bought from ebay and the Clive Chris­tian four poster I swapped with a friend for two mag­nums of cham­pagne. The soft fur­nish­ings have been bought and made, some are ex­pen­sive, some not, and some I bought

“The colour comes from the fur­ni­ture or ac­ces­sories. It means I can change things any time I like

from ebay and made big­ger or smaller as re­quired.’ Hear­ing Jo speak like this, this house al­most shouldn’t come to­gether as well as it has but whilst Jo gives the il­lu­sion that ev­ery­thing is from ev­ery­where she most def­i­nitely had a plan. ‘As soon as build­ing com­menced I started sourc­ing the fur­ni­ture. I knew ex­actly what was go­ing where and what I needed. I had ev­ery­thing ready to move in the day it was fin­ished.’ To­day the house is a per­fect fam­ily home, but is also let out for events when the Lewis clan are not at home. ‘I’m a Scout leader and I love all things tents, but I still want a flush­ing toi­let and a bath, so we’ve built two en suite yurts which we’ve called Bram­ble and Heather in the house grounds. They both have a full-size claw foot bath, WC and a wood­fired hot tub. Next up we’ve just started to ren­o­vate the house­keeper’s flat into a hon­ey­moon suite but I’m re­ally han­ker­ing for a tree­house too…’ With Jo be­hind it, one gets the im­pres­sion there will be a tree­house – but not ex­actly as we know it.

Main im­age: The draw­ing room is spa­cious but feels cosy. Above right: The ex­te­rior bathed in sun­shine.

Above: The vast open plan liv­ing and din­ing area. Below: The lux­u­ri­ous Clive Chris­tian four poster bed cost two mag­nums of cham­pagne.

Above: The light and airy mas­ter bath­room. Below: Yurt Bram­ble brings new mean­ing to glamp­ing.

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