Modern and traditional merge at this mill house extension

When one family got the chance to buy the cottage they’d rented on holiday 20 years ago, it felt too good to turn down. But could they live in it all year round without losing the magic?

Preparing for retirement is a sig­ni­ficant phase in anyone’s life. That’s because, like moving house or having children, the process is much more than simply a practical one: there’s a lot more to pack away into boxes than just books and china. Emotions are tangled up in a lifetime’s worth of possessions, meaning such milestones take on much greater meaning. But when Bam and Gordon Hyslop, a photographer and quantity surveyor respectively, began planning their retirement, they approached it with gusto, seeing it as a new and exciting chapter in their lives with a firm focus on family.
Bam, born in the Islay town of Bowmore, was keen to return to the island where she’d grown up. She considers herself a ‘mainlander’, but had never lost her links with the island. Gordon was deeply attached to the place too. “We’ve always spent our holidays there,” says Bam. “And after renting the cottage, we asked the owners for first option to buy should they ever decide to sell.” That happened in 1994 and they moved quickly to secure it, and the Hyslop family continued to spend their summers, school breaks and every other possible opportunity in Port Ellen.
Now, with their children grown up and parents themselves, Bam and Gordon were itching to embark on their new island adventure. There was just one problem: the beachfront terraced house was a solid structure that had served as a great holiday home, but they knew that if they were to live there permanently, they’d need to create more space.
“It’s a lovely traditional cottage-style house with two bed­rooms and a fireplace in every room, but it just wasn’t adequate,” says Bam. “We wanted to add something contempo­rary out the back.”
Gordon had been working as a quantity surveyor with Matt McKenna and Andy Campbell at Glasgow-based architecture practice Dress for the Weather. He asked them to come up with a proposal for an extension that would include a new kitchen, living room and dining room in an open-plan arrangement. That was back in 2010; work didn’t begin until 2013 but was completed within a year. In the interim, Matt was able to get the requisite planning permission without holding up the build process. “Argyll & Bute are pretty forward-thinking,” he says, “they were receptive to what we were trying to do.”
Key to Bam’s vision was a sociable space that would work when friends came to visit. “It’s a sociable island,” she laughs, “so we needed an extension that would give us space for people to come here. I wanted a kitchen that was open so that I could chat to my guests and cook at the same time.”
She also wanted better access to the garden so that she could take her coffee outside to enjoy in the morning sun. The original corrugated iron lean-to extension was past its best and added little to the original structure, so it made sense to remove it and make way for a bigger, better footprint to the rear.
“The floorplan we ended up with plays on the relationship between the three key spaces – the kitchen, living and dining areas,” says Matt. “The living space is contained within a larger volume, and a small step between the dining area and kitchen provides a degree of separation while maintaining a visual link.”

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 134-140, issue 99.

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Words Catherine Coyle
Photography Daniel Hearn
What An extension to a traditional terraced property
Where Port Ellen, Islay
Architect Dress for the Weather
Contractor Stewart McNee Ltd