Welcome to South Kinaldy House and a wonderful blend of Texan styling and St Andrews character
Texan swagger and Scottish craftsmanship combine to startling effect in this converted stable block in Fife
CHERYL BINNIE wants her next home project to be an ‘ amazing space’, like the kind celebrated by designer George Clarke in his TV series. She says: “I’d love to live in a treehouse, for example, somewhere totally different and exciting that people would look at and say, yes – that’s Cheryl!” Cheryl, who is originally from Texas, is moving on from her current home, South Kinaldy House in St Andrews, after 10 years. It was a ‘ retirement pad’ for her and husband Bill, the renowned pathologist who sadly died in 2013. They met through friends. “I was a chef and ran an organic stocks and sauces company, and Bill was visiting Texas through work at the time,” says Cheryl. “We moved here when Bill retired and I’m not sure he ever forgave me for bringing him away from the heat and the sunshine to cold Scotland. “But I loved the coolness – I couldn’t wait to escape the hot Texan sun.” While Cheryl may have left the weather behind, some Texan influences – like the ‘cowgirl saddle’ in the hallway and the huge American beds, came along with her. “I was always the quirky one, while Bill was more traditional,” she recalls. “I arranged for a lot of furniture to be shipped over from the US. But I’d say my style was more eclectic than just kooky – I wanted to blend Scottish craftsmanship with Texan style and retain the period charm. I wanted to salute the house and the life it had.”
South Kinaldy House dates back to 1802, when it was the stable block and carriage house for Kinaldy Farm.
The original arched entrances are now huge windows, flooding the ground floor rooms with natural light.
“It was a very pretty stables, going by the old photos we have of the riders coming in through the arches,” says Cheryl. “It was very run-down when we bought it but we loved it.”
Cheryl and Bill completely renovated and restored the property, with period organic lime plaster works, bespoke limewash and beeswax wall finishes, natural sheepswool thermal insulation and Fife burr elm throughout.
They took out a central wraparound staircase, which gave them the space for an extra bedroom and bathroom.
For a while, they ran a five star bed and breakfast, called Lone Star Luxury, but for the most part, South Kinaldy has simply been their warm, welcoming home.
The ground floor includes a pretty sitting room, large dining room, whose walls are covered in strips of burr elm, plaques, music manuscripts, copper moulds and sketches, and an awe-inspiring chef’s semi-professional kitchen with an array of appliances and gadgets, such as the five-burner gas hob, four sinks, three ovens, three dishwashers and commercial refrigeration.
Afeature ancient yew and twisted Fife burr elm staircase leads to the first floor, home to the master bedroom suite and a further three large, light-filled bedrooms, all of which have individually designed bath, shower or wet rooms.
“Everything is very organic, very earthy – we always wanted it to be a lived-in, country house,” says Cheryl.
The gardens are beautiful, divided into two main ‘areas’ – a country cottage-style space with shrubs and flowers and seating areas, and a ‘wilder’ organic woodland meadow with a large pond.
“It’s up to us to create homes for wildlife and we tried to do that here,” says Cheryl.
In fact, wildlife of all shapes and sizes was at the front of Cheryl’s mind when she created the garden, planting flowers that would attract bees and butterflies and putting in a pond to provide a home for toads and newts.
There is a network of paths throughout the garden and several patios, providing lots of nooks and crannies in which to sit quietly and enjoy the peace.
In one corner there is a swing made out of Texan cedar, the perfect place to go and hide with a glass of wine on a summer evening.
Hens potter about the garden too – Cheryl is the Scottish director of the British Hen
‘‘ Cheryl and Bill restored the property, with organic lime plaster works, limewash and beeswax wall finishes, natural sheepswool thermal insulation and Fife burr elm throughout
Welfare Trust and helps to rehome birds around the country.
“I’ll really miss the gardens, especially the woodlands and the pond,” says Cheryl.
“I’ll miss the house too – it’s a unique property. It’s funny, when friends from America come to stay, they think it’s very Scottish but all our Scottish friends say: Oh, it’s so American!’.”
She adds: “Hopefully we managed to combine both.”
South Kinaldy House is surrounded by farm and woodland, just a few miles from St Andrews. The town has a wide range of independent shops, restaurants and cafés and galleries, plus excellent schools and good transport links to the rest of Scotland and beyond.
Cheryl is hoping to stay in the local area and she plans to launch St Andrew’s first supper club.
“We were very happy here but now it’s time for me to move on,” she says.
“Life is a series of adventures, and I’m ready for the next one.”
MOD CONS: An awe-inspiring chef’s kitchen boasts a five-burner gas hob and four sinks.
SOUTH KINALDY HOUSE: This five-bedroom country house in St Andrews has been completely renovated and restored. It now boasts incredibly luxurious and stylish features, such as the wood and stone in the bathroom, left, as well as spacious living areas, above and below.