Joyce and Peter Ward came across a keeper’s cot­tage al­most two decades ago and, charmed by its lo­ca­tion, have trans­formed it into a chic yet cosy home

Country Homes & Interiors - - THE HOME OF MODERN COUNTRY -

A few much-needed ren­o­va­tions up­graded this keeper’s cot­tage from hol­i­day home to full-time abode

One day while scour­ing the prop­erty pages for noth­ing in par­tic­u­lar, Joyce Ward came across a for­mer keeper’s cot­tage in East Loth­ian, close to one of Scot­land’s old­est stone-built cas­tles. She per­suaded her hus­band, Peter, that they should view the prop­erty and, hav­ing been com­pletely charmed by the cot­tage and its lo­ca­tion, the cou­ple put in an of­fer. Within a few days of first see­ing it ad­ver­tised, it was theirs.

That was 16 years ago, and it took 12 years be­fore Joyce and Peter re­alised their am­bi­tions for the cot­tage, hav­ing spot­ted the po­ten­tial to con­vert it into a lovely mod­ern home on the first view­ing. ‘We were both so busy in our work­ing lives,’ says Joyce. ‘It was a lovely cot­tage, full of char­ac­ter and per­fectly com­fort­able, in a rus­tic way. We were liv­ing in Ed­in­burgh and had bought it for week­end and hol­i­day use. It wasn’t un­til Peter re­tired and the lure of the coun­try­side had taken hold that we de­cided to sell up in the city, down­size, and make the cot­tage our home. But be­fore we could do that, we had work to do!’

In 2013, Joyce and Peter con­tacted an Ed­in­burgh ar­chi­tect they had worked with on sev­eral projects in the past. ‘Hav­ing a good re­la­tion­ship with your ar­chi­tect is so im­por­tant,’ says Joyce. ‘We gave him our ideas and he made them work.’

The cot­tage had al­ready been ex­tended by the pre­vi­ous own­ers, who had added a two-storey ex­ten­sion onto what was formerly a two-roomed cot­tage, more than dou­bling it »

in size. this clever ex­ten­sion was given a flat roof so that it couldn’t be seen from the front and there­fore didn’t de­tract from the his­toric char­ac­ter of the cot­tage. the chal­lenge for Joyce and Peter was to re­move all the in­ter­nal walls of the ground floor of this ex­ten­sion and con­vert what was then a main bed­room, en suite bath­room, cor­ri­dor and a kitchen into one large space. ‘We wanted this to be a light-filled open-plan liv­ing/kitchen/din­ing area with large slid­ing doors that would give ac­cess to the south-fac­ing part of the gar­den.’

With the help of a struc­tural en­gi­neer it was deemed that this would be pos­si­ble us­ing an RSJ of over seven me­tres in length, run­ning the width of the ex­ten­sion, with a smaller one run­ning in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. th­ese would sup­port the up­per floor and stair­case. in or­der to get them in, a large hole was knocked into the side of the house. they were then laid on a con­certina plat­form and winched into po­si­tion. ‘that was a tense day,’ says Joyce. ‘We had to send Peter back to ed­in­burgh as he was con­vinced the builders would never get the beams down the tiny road to the cot­tage, let alone get them in­side! it was the most stress­ful part of the build but well worth it in the end.’

With the beams in place and all the equip­ment re­moved, the cou­ple could start to get ex­cited about the fan­tas­tic space that they had cre­ated, but the real work was, in fact, just be­gin­ning. ‘naively, i imag­ined that up­stairs might get a bit dusty dur­ing the build but would be oth­er­wise un­scathed,’ says Joyce. ‘in re­al­ity, the builders had to vir­tu­ally de­con­struct »

the bed­rooms in or­der to po­si­tion the beams into the floor space. Ba­si­cally ev­ery sin­gle other room in the house then needed a com­plete makeover!’

Be­ing very prac­ti­cal, Peter was quite hands-on dur­ing the de­sign and build. How­ever, he was happy to take a back seat on colour schemes and fur­nish­ing. ‘I wanted this home to have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent feel from our Ed­in­burgh house,’ says Joyce. ‘Most of the fur­ni­ture from there was too large to bring here, and this meant I vir­tu­ally had a blank can­vas.’ At times, how­ever, she found this quite daunt­ing. ‘On­line you have ac­cess to so much choice. I found it quite hard to make a de­ci­sion and then stick to it.’

In the end she de­cided to opt for a neu­tral pal­ette of white walls con­trasted with dif­fer­ent shades of grey, both in the paint­work and also for the fur­nish­ings. The idea was to then add colour to the liv­ing spa­ces with cush­ions, rugs, throws and pic­tures. Opt­ing for ac­ces­sories in dif­fer­ing hues of blue, with bold golden touches, as well as colour­ful, dis­tressed pic­ture frames has all worked to brighten up the mix. ‘Ev­ery­thing has come to­gether per­fectly. Our home fi­nally has the ca­sual feel I was hop­ing to achieve and it works so well with the beau­ti­ful light we have here. We’re very lucky that it’s a bright house, even dur­ing the depths of win­ter.’

‘We have a few prop­erty projects un­der our belts now – who knows if there will be any more?’ says Joyce. ‘But at the mo­ment I can’t imag­ine it. We have all that we need right here.’

Liv­ing area Within this light open-plan space, Joyce and Peter have cre­ated a cosy cor­ner for win­ter nights. Con­tura wood stove, G Christie & Sons. Rein­deer hide throw, Beech & Birch. Rug, Gu­drun Sjo­den.

Kitchen Joyce has used part of an old shop counter un­der her is­land unit. Re­claimed In­dian wooden floor tiles (rear wall), Rock­ett St Ge­orge. Mir­ror (used as splash­back), Maisons du Monde. Skele­ton clock, Time & Tide.

Ex­te­rior The cot­tage sits in three­quar­ters of an acre of gar­den, nat­u­rally land­scaped around a rocky out­crop.

En suite A geo­met­ric pat­tern on the wall adds a mod­ern touch. Floor and wall tiles, bothFired Earth. Mir­rors, Ikea. Bath­room fit­tings,Bath­store. Tow­els,The White Com­pany.

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