Monarch of the Glen

Colin White and An­nette Sid­dle have trans­formed the rear of their pe­riod house in ru­ral Kin­car­di­neshire with a con­tem­po­rary ex­ten­sion that has con­trib­uted to the im­prove­ment and stream­lin­ing of the ground floor liv­ing spa­ces


What was orig­i­nally planned as a sim­ple con­ser­va­tory ren­o­va­tion ended up trans­form­ing the ground floor of Colin White and An­nette Sid­dle’s stun­ning coun­try manor

The Coach House is an im­pos­ing 19th cen­tury land­mark build­ing that Colin White and his wife An­nette Sid­dle have re­cently par­tially ren­o­vated. rough re­plac­ing a tired PVCU con­ser­va­tory, the cou­ple have re­claimed a grand atrium space and cre­ated a sim­ple yet clas­sic con­tem­po­rary ad­di­tion over­look­ing the im­pres­sive gar­dens and grounds. e re­sult has trans­formed the in­ter­nal ar­range­ment and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of this im­pres­sive stone abode. “is is a house that de­serves qual­ity. It was lovely be­fore, but now it’s fan­tas­tic,” ex­plains Colin.

Colin and An­nette’s jour­ney to own­ing this his­toric house and its 1.8 acre gar­dens be­gan, quite by ac­ci­dent, al­most 10 years ago. e cou­ple had been look­ing to take on a small at­tic ren­o­va­tion project

in the dwelling they owned at the time and de­cided to visit e Coach House, which had re­cently been ren­o­vated, for some ideas. “We ab­so­lutely fell in love with it,” says Colin.

e cou­ple sub­se­quently sold their home and bought the prop­erty in 2008. ey lived there for sev­eral years be­fore they de­cided to take on the re­de­vel­op­ment at the rear. “ere was a white PVCU and glass con­ser­va­tory with a hot tub and a spi­ral stair­case to the up­per floor,” says Colin. “Once the nov­elty of the hot tub wore off, we re­alised we could make much bet­ter use of the space, and that such a fan­tas­tic house def­i­nitely de­served a beau­ti­ful stair­case.”

Rad­i­cal re­think

e main rea­son the cou­ple were keen to re­think the ex­ist­ing con­ser­va­tory was that it was too hot in sum­mer and very cold in win­ter. e spi­ral flight lead­ing up to the first floor didn’t re­ally com­ple­ment the room ef­fec­tively, and they wanted to make the space into a prop­erly func­tion­ing ad­di­tional liv­ing area.

Colin and An­nette’s ini­tial idea for the zone was very low key. e orig­i­nal brief was sim­ply to re­place the PVCU cov­er­ing to

This is a house that de­serves qual­ity. It was lovely be­fore, but now it’s fan­tas­tic’’

cre­ate a proper roof with a sky­light. at way we could main­tain the amount of light while keep­ing the area cool,” says Colin. “We wanted to re­tain the glass, as we have stun­ning views.”

With this in mind, the cou­ple ap­proached lo­cal ar­chi­tect Nikki Ritchie of Hyve Ar­chi­tects in Stone­haven. “As the project pro­gressed and the struc­tural en­gi­neer came on board, it be­came ob­vi­ous that the ex­ist­ing con­ser­va­tory wasn’t up to the job of hold­ing up a new slate roof,” ex­plains Nikki. “In the end, we ended up re­plac­ing the whole of the struc­ture in its en­tirety.”

e new ad­di­tion would be essen­tially the same shape as be­fore, oc­cu­py­ing the ex­ist­ing foot­print, but com­pletely re­built us­ing dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als. Colin and An­nette wanted some­thing as frame­less as pos­si­ble with views to the gar­den, so along with the new slate roof, a sky­light was added, as well as slid­ing glass doors.

Orig­i­nally, Colin had in­tended to put in a huge fixed pane of glass, as the cou­ple rarely used the ex­ist­ing pa­tio en­trance. But then Nikki rec­om­mended Skyframe slid­ing doors, which fea­ture very min­i­mal sight­lines. is was a great so­lu­tion as Colin didn’t want any­thing block­ing the scenic views. “It wasn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for,” he says. “Now we use the pa­tio a lot more.”

Go with the flow

Dur­ing the ini­tial de­sign process, the cou­ple told their ar­chi­tect they wanted the ground floor to con­nect seam­lessly to the con­ser­va­tory. As such, the orig­i­nal brief pro­posed cre­at­ing a sec­ond open plan lounge in the atrium space within the re­built struc­ture.

When the plans changed, An­nette be­gan to feel that this area should flow into the kitchen in­stead. As the ex­ist­ing culi­nary space had lime green walls and brown floor tiles, they de­cided to up­date the space with some more con­tem­po­rary units. e porce­lain floor tiles now ex­tend through to the kitchen, cre­at­ing a much bet­ter flow.

Piv­otal to the suc­cess of the project was the new stairs. is fea­ture forms the fo­cal point of the whole atrium liv­ing area and cre­ates a much more ef­fec­tive con­nec­tion to the rooms on the up­per level. Dur­ing early dis­cus­sions with the ar­chi­tect, Colin brought in an im­age of a float­ing stair­case that he liked, so Nikki got to work on de­sign­ing a T-shaped flight be­fore ap­proach­ing a few man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Find­ing some­one to build the struc­ture proved tricky. It turned out that many of the com­pa­nies that could do the spe­cial­ist work re­quired don’t take on do­mes­tic jobs as they’re too small. How­ever,

a lot of the man­u­fac­tur­ers that do one-offs for pri­vate homes wouldn’t build that type of flight. “Most firms we ap­proached wanted to force sup­ports un­der­neath, but as the whole point was to cre­ate a float­ing stair­case, this wouldn’t have worked,” says Nikki. “Even­tu­ally we did find a Lon­don based de­signer.”

e stairs were crafted in steel and ar­rived in sec­tions, be­fore be­ing put to­gether by the man­u­fac­tur­ers. Hyve Ar­chi­tects also ap­pointed lo­cal joiner and cab­i­net­maker Gra­ham John­ston to com­plete the Amer­i­can wal­nut clad join­ery. Colin and An­nette dis­cussed the fin­ish­ing touches, like the handrails, di­rectly with him while he was there on site dur­ing the in­stal­la­tion. e re­sult looks as though it’s made solely from float­ing tim­ber, de­spite the steel car­cass, with­out a join in sight. It marks a par­tic­u­lar high­light of the project for Colin. “e stair­case is stun­ning. ere’s not a nail or screw to be seen,” he says. “at’s the beauty of work­ing with lo­cal trades­peo­ple. We were en­gaged through­out the whole process.”

Tak­ing shape

e year-long construction went rel­a­tively smoothly, fol­low­ing a straight­for­ward two-month plan­ning process, with only a few mi­nor hic­cups. e new link­ing ex­ten­sion’s struc­ture com­prises a steel

frame with tim­ber rafters, and the en­gi­neer in­sisted on us­ing a steel tie to make it work struc­turally. As such, the team de­cided to make it into a fea­ture be­neath the roof sky­light, cladding it in tim­ber to blend it with the new stair­case. e main prob­lem they faced was with the in­stal­la­tion of the glass balustrad­ing, which had been sourced from a Dan­ish sup­plier. e orig­i­nal de­liv­ery was the wrong size, and had suf­fered some dam­age dur­ing tran­sit, so had to be sent back, which caused some de­lays with in­stal­la­tion.

Colin also wasn’t sat­is­fied with the over­all ef­fect once it was fi­nally in­stalled. e balustrade was orig­i­nally com­prised of three sec­tions, but it didn’t look right, and he felt it would look bet­ter as just one. “We were told this wasn’t pos­si­ble, but we per­se­vered and ul­ti­mately got ex­actly what we wanted,” he says. “Hav­ing the one solid piece has re­ally made a dif­fer­ence to the aes­thet­ics of the flight.”

e cou­ple di­rectly sourced the kitchen and floor tiles them­selves, with An­nette tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the in­te­ri­ors and fin­ishes. Colin de­signed the light­ing and also opted to im­ple­ment a home au­to­ma­tion sys­tem. “I love my gad­gets, so my per­sonal in­put was choos­ing to in­stall the Lutron light­ing con­trol,” he says. “When half the house was ripped out, I took the op­por­tu­nity to run some ex­tra in­fra­struc­ture through­out the down­stairs storey.”

At the time of the build, Colin was work­ing overseas a lot, while An­nette was stay­ing on site. In ret­ro­spect, the ex­pe­ri­ence of liv­ing in the prop­erty through the construction, us­ing a tem­po­rary stair­case while the cen­tre of the house was boarded up, is some­thing the pair would rec­om­mend oth­ers try to avoid.

How­ever, now that the dust has set­tled on the build, the ef­fect of such a rel­a­tively low-key in­ter­ven­tion has had a dra­matic and pos­i­tive ef­fect on the way that Colin and An­nette live. Not only do they have an atrium much more in-keep­ing with the gran­deur of the ex­ist­ing dwelling, but it has also im­proved the hab­it­able space.

ey love their stun­ning stair­case, de­scribed by ar­chi­tect Nikki Ritchie as be­ing akin to a grand pi­ano fea­ture. “It’s changed the way we use the house,” says Colin. “e new atrium has trans­formed this zone from a pas­sage­way to a room that we spend a lot of time in and

gives us a lot of plea­sure. We’re not over­looked and we now use the pa­tio all the time to gaze out on stun­ning open views over the gar­dens and right out to­wards the coast.”

Colin feels that they have learned a lot of lessons from their first ma­jor build­ing project. ey didn’t set a bud­get, and he be­lieves this helped them get a high-spec re­sult, although he does ad­mit they could have built a small de­tached prop­erty for the same cost. “I be­lieve in qual­ity, and the level here is metic­u­lous,” he says. “It was all about the high end fin­ish and get­ting it right, and I think that in this case we cer­tainly have.”

Left: The new glass ex­ten­sion looks out over the beau­ti­fully kept grounds

The T-shaped stair­case makes a stun­ning fo­cal fea­ture. De­spite its steel skele­ton, the construction has been en­gi­neered to look as if it is float­ing, with the glass balustrad­ing adding to the ef­fect

Smart tech­nol­ogy con­trols the home’s light­ing

The kitchen has been mod­ernised with new glossy white units and porce­lain tile floors

A bal­cony over­looks the open-plan liv­ing space

Be­low: The large struc­tural beam makes an at­trac­tive fea­ture

The bed­rooms are bright and airy with plenty of stor­age space

A cor­ner bath makes an un­usual fea­ture in the en­suite bath­room

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