Shot in dark hits the mark

An am­bi­tious four-year pro­ject to con­vert a ru­ral farm­house into a con­tem­po­rary fam­ily home paid off in stun­ning style, dis­cov­ers Heather Ma­cleod

The Herald - Scotland's Homes - - Taylor Wimpey -

How many house hunters would view a hill­side prop­erty with­out elec­tric­ity at 11pm on a dark win­ter night and de­cide to buy it there and then? That’s ex­actly what Gor­don and San­dra Adams did in 1997 when they vis­ited Cairn Hall Farm near the Stir­ling­shire vil­lage of Bal­fron.

“when I con­tacted the owner to view the farm­house, it was a case of come up now, in spite of the late hour,” re­calls Gor­don. “when we ar­rived at the end of the old farm road, I knew it was a lo­ca­tion like no other. It was dark, the night was cold and clear with stars in the sky and we could see the lights all around the Camp­sies; 10 min­utes later, our minds were made up.”

Gor­don and San­dra were able to ver­ify their first im­pres­sions when they vis­ited the farm­house in day­light, dis­cov­er­ing the full majesty of the panoramic views which take in the Fin­try Hills, Ben Lomond and the Braes of Doon.

But glance at the im­ages of Cairn Hall to­day, and you quickly re­alise that the Adams didn’t take up res­i­dence in what was Stir­ling­shire’s high­est dairy farm. In­stead, they em­barked on the am­bi­tious pro­ject of build­ing an 6000 sq ft fam­ily home on the el­e­vated site.

Start­ing from scratch, with the help of a de­sign ar­chi­tect, the cou­ple went all out to cre­ate a stylish out­post in­cor­po­rat­ing ma­te­ri­als such as red sand­stone from the de­mol­ished farm­house into the new house.

The en­tire pro­ject, in­clud­ing the plan­ning process and land­scap­ing the five acre front gar­den was to take


four years. while the de­sign of Cairn Hall looks back in time, it goes for­ward too, as Gor­don ex­plains: “while the prop­erty looks fairly tra­di­tional from the out­side, its ap­pear­ance be­lies the mod­ern de­sign and lay­out of the in­te­rior.

“As I’m not a fan of small hall­ways with tight trans­fers from one room to an­other like rail­way car­riages, the house has gen­er­ous cir­cu­la­tion ar­eas with lots of glass and light.”

The re­cep­tion hall – with fea­ture twin stair­case – com­bines airi­ness with char­ac­ter, and leads to the con­ser­va­tory, din­ing room and ter­race.

Ad­di­tional liv­ing ar­eas on the ground floor in­clude a draw­ing room, liv­ing room, din­ing room, all with a dec­o­ra­tive style that achieves a per­fect bal­ance be­tween the fur­nish­ings and the space it­self, while em­brac­ing the views.

Cus­tom made cab­i­netry and a cream four-oven Aga, cre­ates a cool but coun­try style kitchen, which is aug­mented by a larder, prep kitchen, and util­ity and boot rooms.

The prin­ci­pal en-suite bed­room is also on this level, while a sus­pended walk­way in the up­per hall­way leads to three en-suite bed­rooms and a study, while a sec­ondary stair­cases lead to the up­per gallery, which runs the en­tire length of the house.

In ad­di­tion to an ar­ray of liv­ing ar­eas and bed­rooms, Cairn Hall has its very own screen­ing room/home cin­ema with sur­round sound and the en­tire space is pro­foundly live­able and re­lax­ing.

In tan­dem with a strong spec­i­fi­ca­tion and high lev­els of in­su­la­tion, the palette of ma­te­ri­als used through­out the in­te­rior adds punch and per­son­al­ity, with all doors crafted from solid oak, and the bath­rooms in mar­ble or gran­ite.

As well as the mes­meric views that ini­tially at­tracted the cou­ple to the lo­ca­tion, the house now over­looks cas­cad­ing ponds in the land­scaped gar­dens, and to the south west over a golf course.

“As the farm came with 250 acres, I de­cided to split the ti­tle with Bal­fron Golf So­ci­ety, so the house stands in 147 acres and is bor­dered by the golf course on three sides.

“we re­placed the orig­i­nal farm road that took us so long to ne­go­ti­ate the first time we viewed the farm­house, and we have a pri­vate tree-lined drive­way and court­yard at the front the house.”

The walled gar­den to the south is mainly laid to lawn, while lawns to the west and east roll down to a trio of large ponds, a walk­way and sum­mer house. To al­low birds, in­clud­ing mal­lards, to nest safely, the Adams have cre­ated is­lands on the ponds.

“we can see the moon shin­ing on Loch Lomond from here. You feel so close the ele­ments and not just on beau­ti­ful days. You can look to the west and south west and see the win­ter storms com­ing up.

“when we move, we will miss the gar­dens and the space but not much else, as we are build­ing a smaller house in the grounds en­closed and pro­tected by a walled gar­den. why would we move away when we have so much in the way of pri­vacy and views?”

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