Force of na­ture

An oak ex­ten­sion has trans­formed this home in Ar­gyll’s Cri­nan Ferry and pro­vided a link to the glo­ri­ous na­ture around it, dis­cov­ers Ni­chola Hunter

Scottish Field - - WINTERTON, CRINAN FERRY -

Stephanie Sch­wind-Par­sons has wanted to run her own B&B since she was a child and at Win­ter­ton she’s fi­nally achieved her dream. For­tu­nately for Stephanie, her hus­band Adrian shared her dream and it was ac­tu­ally Adrian’s par­ents who in­tro­duced the cou­ple to Cri­nan Ferry in Ar­gyll, a stun­ning area on the West Coast where Win­ter­ton is lo­cated.

‘It goes back many years,’ Adrian ex­plains. ‘My par­ents were trav­el­ling through Scot­land and came across Cri­nan House, which is a 280-year-old, listed build­ing and which lies at the end of a rocky peninsula be­tween the sea at Loch Cri­nan and the es­tu­ary of the River Add. When it came up for sale they bought it as a hol­i­day home.

‘Thir­teen years ago, when we were

hol­i­day­ing at Cri­nan House we saw that Win­ter­ton was up for sale. We re­alised this might be our op­por­tu­nity to live in Ar­gyll and run our own B&B along­side Cri­nan House, which is a hol­i­day let.’

The cou­ple were liv­ing in Ger­many at the time and it took them a while to sell up and move. As Win­ter­ton was to be their new home, they also in­tended to make some sig­nif­i­cant changes to the prop­erty. ‘There was a lot of re­me­dial work to be done and we also wanted to ex­tend,’ ex­plains Stephanie. ‘We con­verted the loft, put in a new stair­case, ripped out all the win­dows, rewired, in­stalled a biomass boiler and re­newed all the heat­ing and plumb­ing, which took about three years.’

‘We didn’t know it was go­ing to be such a large project,’ Adrian re­calls. ‘We had ren­o­vated an old farm­house in Bavaria, so we thought it was doable, but we un­der­es­ti­mated it a lit­tle. I think that was be­cause the house had never been fin­ished prop­erly. It was built over 30 years ago on the site of an old croft house, but the doors and win­dows hadn’t been fit­ted cor­rectly and had rot­ted. Un­for­tu­nately, they all had to come out.’

The cou­ple did the project man­age­ment them­selves which was a huge learn­ing curve but a chal­lenge they rel­ished. Adrian is a graphic de­signer who had a de­sign con­sul­tancy in Mu­nich. He also stud­ied in­te­rior de­sign and by his own ad­mis­sion ‘is a frus­trated ar­chi­tect’. Stephanie trained in ho­tel man­age­ment and has worked in five-star ho­tels in Bri­tain, France and Ger­many.

This skillset al­lowed Stephanie and Adrian to cre­ate a lay­out that of­fers guests a truly re­lax­ing and com­fort­able stay whilst still giv­ing them pri­vate liv­ing ar­eas that can be en­joyed in their down time. ‘Adding the oak frame ex­ten­sion has trans­formed the down­stairs,’ says Adrian. ‘We love be­ing in na­ture and love how it af­fects us. By build­ing this ex­ten­sion it lets na­ture into the house, and it’s also a mag­nif­i­cent piece of work­man­ship.

‘There are some stain­less steel bolts go­ing into the foun­da­tions but apart from that it’s all held to­gether by tra­di­tional oak dow­els. The frame came from Car­pen­ter Oak who are down in Devon, but they have a com­mis­sioned work­shop in Cum­bria. I did the ini­tial sketches and draw­ings, they made sure it would work and a struc­tural en­gi­neer checked it.’

The ex­ten­sion in­cor­po­rates the new sun and view­ing lounge and a din­ing area which is ac­cessed through the liv­ing room

We love be­ing in na­ture and love how it af­fects us

in the old part of the house. ‘We wanted this space to be an ex­ten­sion of the guest bed­rooms,’ he says. ‘Whilst the bed­rooms are lovely, it’s nice to be able to spread out and sit on a proper sofa. As we can only ac­com­mo­date four peo­ple it’s never crowded, and one can sit here and en­joy the views down the beau­ti­ful and his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant Kil­martin Glen.’

The rest of the prop­erty has also been re­con­fig­ured to cre­ate des­ig­nated guest and pri­vate spa­ces. ‘On the ground floor, there’s an en­trance for guests, a util­ity room, first guest bed­room and en suite, liv­ing room with ad­join­ing sun lounge, kitchen, pri­vate hall, pantry, pri­vate loo and scullery,’ ex­plains Stephanie.

‘Up­stairs is the sec­ond guest bed­room and en suite and our pri­vate liv­ing room, bed­room, bath­room and at­tic. As it’s our home we wanted to fur­nish it in a way that we like our­selves so there are pieces brought from our trav­els, but I also wanted to cre­ate some­thing that was re­ally com­fort­able and cosy. I know my­self if I stay in an ugly place it makes me feel de­pressed and I re­ally want our guests to be happy.

‘We did buy some ad­di­tional pieces for the bed­rooms but there are pieces which we’ve col­lected over the years and they’re in­te­grated into the house now.’

One of Adrian’s favourite new ad­di­tions to the bed­rooms was the claw foot bath. ‘We’ve seen the bath in the bed­room idea in var­i­ous places and mag­a­zines,’ he says. ‘There used to be a bath in that lo­ca­tion any­way as that was part of the old bath­room and we thought “wouldn’t it be in­ter­est­ing to

of­fer a bath in the bed­room?” We en­joy ly­ing in a bath, maybe our guests will too, es­pe­cially if you’ve been for a long walk or cy­cle. We also have a lo­cal mas­sage ther­a­pist who will come and do treat­ments, so you can have a truly re­lax­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with­out go­ing out the front door.’

Af­ter your bath and mas­sage, you can also sit down to a home-cooked meal. ‘Stephanie is a pas­sion­ate cook and I’m a very happy guinea pig when she wants to ex­per­i­ment,’ laughs Adrian. ‘One of our philoso­phies was to cre­ate a place where we would love to stay our­selves and where peo­ple could come and es­cape from their hec­tic life­style in a place of tran­quil­lity where they could re­gen­er­ate.

‘Ini­tially our plan was to tempt peo­ple to stay here longer and we said we’d have a min­i­mum two-night stay, but al­ready we have guests stay­ing for two weeks, which is ex­actly what we wanted. This area has so much to of­fer and not just in terms of stun­ning scenery but Scot­land’s old­est his­tory too, dat­ing back more than 5,000 years.’

Whilst it’s taken nearly five years to get to this stage, Stephanie now has her B&B and Adrian is an even more pas­sion­ate and frus­trated ar­chi­tect now that he has had a taste of it. Guests find that, hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced all of the pit­falls, he is al­ways will­ing to of­fer ad­vice on in­te­rior de­sign should they ask for his thoughts.

‘We’ve had over thirty dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties through our door in the last three years and they’ve all been lovely peo­ple,’ said Stephanie. ‘Some have re­turned two or three times al­ready – which is so up­lift­ing and ful­fill­ing. Ev­ery­thing took longer than an­tic­i­pated but it was worth it.’

Left: Stone walls and tim­ber beams show the cou­ple’s love of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. Be­low: The coast­line around Win­ter­ton is the per­fect dog-walk­ing spot.

Above: The sun and view­ing lounge pro­vides a win­dow on

na­ture. Bot­tom right: A cosy rest­ing place.

Above: As well as an en suite there’s a claw foot bath in one of the bed­rooms.

Bot­tom: Win­ter­ton sits peace­fully by the wa­ter.

Left: The em­pha­sis is on com­fort.

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