A home with art in mind

A light, airy re­work­ing of a Vic­to­rian coach house has pro­duced a se­cluded three-bed­room cot­tage that is as pretty as a pic­ture. By Heather Ma­cleod

The Herald - Scotland's Homes - - Scotland’s Homes -

WHEN­EVER Mary and Gwyn Pugh took their grand­chil­dren for a walk in the sea­side of town Ayr, they al­ways passed a blonde sand­stone cot­tage on Belle­vue Road, par­tially hid­den by a walled gar­den.

“We could only catch a glimpse of it through the trees, but it looked such a lovely lit­tle place with so much po­ten­tial,” re­calls Mary who viewed the prop­erty with an artist’s eye.

“Al­though my daugh­ter and her fam­ily lived in Ayr, we were based in Dum­fries & Gal­loway at the time, but when the prop­erty came up for sale, we were so in­trigued by it that we acted on im­pulse and de­cided to make an of­fer, with not much thought about what would hap­pen next.”

Five years and a sub­stan­tial ex­ten­sion later, the cou­ple have a three-bed­room home with an open-plan lay­out on the ground floor with for­mal lounge, Ger­man-de­signed din­ing kitchen, of­fice/study and gar­den room.

The two up­stairs bed­rooms have dress­ing and shower rooms, while the down­stairs bed­room comes with an en-suite shower room.

Un­usu­ally for such an un­der­tak­ing, the Pughs en­joyed ev­ery minute of the pro­ject-man­age­ment process, and it is tes­ta­ment to this that they want to re­peat the ex­pe­ri­ence and are mov­ing on to em­bark on a new pro­ject.

“We took the ex­ist­ing build­ing, which was orig­i­nally a Vic­to­rian coach house, right back to a shell,” ex­plains Mary, “then added a gar­den/sun room and ve­ran­dah at the front.

“When the ex­ten­sion was be­ing built, we knocked down an old out­house at the back, and in­cor­po­rated the orig­i­nal stone into the new build­ing. We also re­stored the orig­i­nal floor­boards and beams on the up­per level.

“It was a fan­tas­tic pro­ject. We had an ar­chi­tect who steered ev­ery­thing through the plan­ning stage, and ex­cel­lent lo­cal builders who made it pos­si­ble for us to re­alise all our ideas.”

Mary par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the strands of the pro­ject man­age­ment which in­volved sourc­ing ma­te­ri­als, right down to find­ing the right door han­dles.

She did not have far to go to find the per­fect kitchen, as spe­cial­ists Creative De­signs were just round the cor­ner.

“They were so knowl­edge­able and help­ful,” Mary says, “and ev­ery­thing gelled to­gether.

“We wanted some­thing that wasn’t ob­vi­ously a kitchen, and this was pos­si­ble as the rear ex­ten­sion has util­ity and store rooms.

“We chose an ALNO kitchen with off-white cab­i­netry to re­in­force the light, some­thing that we have tried to achieve through­out the house, with a jas­mine white eggshell fin­ish and cream Vene­tian blinds in all the rooms. We don’t need cur­tains as the house is so well in­su­lated and screened off from the out­side.”

The palette of colour and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als add punch and per­son­al­ity to the in­te­rior, while hon­our­ing the orig­i­nal bones of the house.

All floor­ing on the ground level is oak, and a lo­cal crafts­man pulled off the com­plex task of cre­at­ing a new, cus­tom-made curved stair­case.

What once was a pretty and pe­tite cot­tage is now an al­most loft-like space which com­bines cre­ativ­ity with com­fort, pro­vid­ing mod­ern liv­ing yet stand­ing within the tra­di­tional Vic­to­rian walls of both house and gar­den.

With the fun­da­men­tals in place, ev­ery­thing came to­gether when Mary and Gwyn in­tro­duced the fur­ni­ture and art­work from their pre­vi­ous home in the Bor­ders. As Mary is a tex­tile artist and sculp­tor, she has cre­ated a home that em­braces both light and tex­ture with­out sac­ri­fic­ing a sense of so­phis­ti­ca­tion.

The cou­ple’s daugh­ter Camilla is also an artist, while son Nick is an ur­ban pho­tog­ra­pher whose work is in­spired by light in all its forms and moods.

When not run­ning classes, Mary works from home in her study/stu­dio or in the sun room.

While the wrap­around ve­ran­dah is a re­cent ad­di­tion, it is what de­fines the ex­te­rior of this slate-roofed home with its deep over­hang and sash-and­case win­dows.

This is a shel­tered space with colo­nial-style, rat­tan seats where Mary and Gwyn can re­lax and read over cof­fee while en­joy­ing the gar­den. With its flag­stone paths, the walled cot­tage gar­den is a col­lage of colour and tra­di­tional plant­ing with lots of bor­ders, ma­ture shrubs and trees.

Mary says that they have con­cen­trated on cre­at­ing a coun­trystyle gar­den which is re­laxed and matches the in­for­mal­ity of their home and its set­ting.

“When we moved in, my par­ents gave us a tulip tree as house­warm­ing gift but I think it will be a few years be­fore it comes into flower, al­though the leaves are a talk­ing point in them­selves. The tree in full bloom will be some­thing for the fu­ture own­ers to look for­ward to and en­joy,” she said.

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