So good the government wants more houses like it, this award-winning project in Haddington might never have happened if it hadn’t been for a leaky roof
Colin and Elaine Reid’s award-winning Dishophall extension, recently selected by the Scottish Government to help promote good quality design, didn’t have such auspicious beginnings. Indeed, in 2003, when the couple bought the 19th-century farmhouse (which was essentially two traditional cottages in one, with three bedrooms and a living room) on the outskirts of Haddington, the charm of their rural idyll quickly curdled as leaks began to appear almost as soon as they moved in.
In particular, a new conservatory that had been built just before their move turned out to be far from watertight. To compound matters, a problem with the electrics meant that the house was plunged into darkness every time it rained. “I suppose there’s always a risk when you buy an old building, and the problems with ours unfortunately became apparent very quickly,” says Colin.
Nevertheless, surrounded as they were by a large swathe of East Lothian countryside, the Reids decided to stay put and save up for the repairs. Then, in 2010, they “bit the bullet”, as Colin puts it, and decided to strip back and renovate the entire farmhouse. At the same time they also toyed with the idea of extending it. “It was just a single storey, but I had always thought there was an opportunity to create an upstairs area in the house, particularly an extra bedroom,” explains Colin.
“We knew we had to address the leaky conservatory but thought maybe we could work around it to create an upper level. We also wanted a big open-plan kitchen on the ground level instead of the small dark kitchen and tiny breakfast bar that we had. It was an awkward shape with lots of doors, so wasn’t very user-friendly. And the dining area was separate. But we never anticipated demolishing the whole conservatory, kitchen and dining room. It was Matthew who came up with the idea of knocking down the back of the house and creating a whole new open-plan kitchen, dining and living area.”
The architect in question was Matthew Johnson of Edinburgh-based practice a449, who explains the raison d’être behind the project. “The strategy for the ground-floor plan was relatively straightforward. The idea grew from Colin and Elaine’s desire to have a kitchen as the hub of the home, coupled with our intention to bring in as much natural light as possible.” The architect had been recommended to the couple by colleagues and they soon understood the logic of his proposal.
The result is a new dining and living area arranged around a beautifully bespoke kitchen hub. Utilitarian spaces have been placed where they have minimal impact on the views, with the windows positioned to frame the countryside and capture morning and afternoon sun, in particular the north-west corner of the extension. Directly above in the new extension is a large master bedroom and en-suite bathroom, enjoying dramatic views over the Lammermuir hills.
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 104-108, issue 91.
What Dishophall Cottage, a three-bed Victorian farmouse renovation and extension
Where Haddington, E Lothian
Architect a449 Ltd, 0131 563 5152
Construction time Eight months
Words Caroline Ednie
Photography Nigel Rigden