How an architect made one couple’s grand plans come to life

After years of mulling over the possibility of improvements, the owners of this Glasgow villa took decisive action, enlisting an architect with the vision to
transform it into their dream home

Is there ever a good time to renovate a house? When the couple who own this solid villa in Broomhill first moved in, they had two young children and another on the way. The house, built in 1899, may have been untouched since the 1970s but the radical building work it needed would, they decided, have to wait at least until the children were at school.
That was 1995. The house was rewired and redecorated, the garden was landscaped and the children grew up. The kitchen, however, kept its Harold Wilson-era layout, if not its orange-and-brown colour scheme. There were many discussions about getting rid of the extension and joining the stone-built garage on to the body of the house; it just took them until 2011 to do anything about it.
“We always felt the kitchen needed major work,” says the owner, “but we didn’t want to compromise, so we left it as it was. We had a vision of extending out, knocking down the original extension. In fact, over the years there were numerous con­ver­­sations about how to add the garage on to the house, but we could never work out how it would happen. Thankfully, Emma had the vision for that.”
Emma is Emma Ellson, partner at Ellson Buchanan Archi­tects. The couple found the firm on the internet and, after interviewing several other architects recommended by friends and neighbours, gave Ellson Buchanan the job of the long-awaited transformation.
Emma and her business partner George Buchanan immedi­ately saw the villa’s potential. “It was a lovely house as it was,” recalls Emma, “and it was by no means in a bad con­dition. But the back could have been better.”
As well as the ‘period’ kitchen, there were three small rooms, including a utility room. A stone-built extension cut off any light to the kitchen and had no connection with the garden. “The first thing in our brief was to open up the view to the garden,” says Emma.
The clients’ wish list also included an attic con­ver­sion, more bathrooms, a gym and an office. Not everything made the final edit but the list, the architects say in retro­spect, made it easy for them to prioritise and plan the job.
Another factor in the smooth running of the project was the absence of planning glitches. “Our first concerns are always: is this a listed building? Is it in a conservation area? Happily, this was neither.”
As George and Emma knew from bitter experience, removing the rear elevation of a listed building is not, from a planning point of view, a simple matter. Without such restrictions, they went ahead and designed a new extension that took the kitchen out into the garden using the existing wall, took in the footprint of the old extension and added in the garage. After some debate, a pitched roof was replaced with a flat one. The attic exten­sion did not survive the various drawing stages but the rest of the wish list was pretty much ticked off. The planning department gave it all the green light and, by summer 2012, the job was out to tender.
With Milngavie-based Prestonfield Construction in place as the main contractor and Emma and George as contract administrators, the family moved out and the workmen moved in. One of the owners popped in most days, as there was a good deal of co-ordinating to be done, and was at the end of the phone for any urgent queries. The kitchen came from Kitchens International and the bathrooms were supplied by Victor Paris. The integrated sound and lighting system was designed and installed by Activate, while Cosmos Garden Design rescued the back lawn after it had been used as a general purpose rubble dump. With the kitchen being transplanted from the old extension to the new one, major plumbing work was required.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 86-92, issue 91.

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What A four-bedroom Victorian villa
Where Broomhill, Glasgow
Architect Ellson Buchanan 0141 334 5588,
Builder Prestonfield Construction, 0141 956 7632
Words Anna Burnside
Photography Mack Photography