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
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.