While traditional properties can offer character galore, a well-designed modern home can have the edge in terms of letting in natural light. Homes designed in the days before central heating tend to have low ceilings, small windows and, as a result, darker interiors.
This is doubly true if the property has been built as ancillary accommodation on a large estate; in times gone by little attention was paid to such matters if the occupants were going to be staff.
But in the case of Dollerie Lodge, near Crieff in Perthshire, the period cottage has no such problems, being flooded with light from sunrise to sunset.
Owner Jo Trust, who bought the property two years ago with husband Sandy says: “It is what first attracted us to the house, it is so sunny and the surroundings are absolutely beautiful.
“From the first light in the morning to the golden evening sun, the quality of light is amazing.”
The couple have two children, Digby, four, and Rosie, three, and were looking for a rural home within commuting distance of Sandy’s job as an actuary in Stirling and Jo’s wedding planning business, Cowshed Crail, which she runs with her sister based near St Andrews.
Dollerie Lodge has had a few adaptions over the years and it is easy to see from the floor plan that it started life as a very modest single-storey cottage, probably housing workers from the neighbouring Dollerie House estate.
An extension was built before the Trusts’ time there and while the older part of the house is on a single floor and has two bedrooms, the kitchen and a utility room, the new part is larger, with a sitting room, dining room and conservatory on the ground floor and an ensuite master bedroom upstairs.
A mezzanine landing with Velux windows above the stair is the main reason that the area is flooded with light.
It makes for a flexible house, according to Jo. “We use the dining room as a kids’ playroom and although we haven’t altered the structure in our short time here we have made it more family friendly.”
Projects included replacing a shower room with a bath and taking out a dated gas fire to install a woodburner in the sitting room.
The couple also created a patio outside in a spot that is perfect for making the most of the evening sun. Jo says: “The owner before us was here for 20 years and was a very keen gardener. She has left us a beautiful outside space, full of mature shrubs that provides colour all year round.
“Aside from mowing the lawn, it is very low maintenance and a safe place for the children to play.”
Had they been staying in the property long term, as had been their intention, the Trusts had big plans for further improvements.
Jo says: “I work from home so had my eye on the garage outside which has plenty of room to convert part to a home office.
“We also would have reconfigured the house and extended as the children grew up.”
Plans included moving the kitchen into the sitting room and building outwards, encompassing the sunroom to create a big, bright open-plan living area with bifold doors at the back. The existing kitchen could then be turned into a fourth bedroom.
One thing that will never change is the outlook. Jo says: “You look out on to parkland which can’t be built on and fields where you can watch them harvesting in late summer.
“In winter the views open up as the trees lose their leaves and you can see the Ochil Hills on one side and Ben Chonzie and Loch Turret on the other.”
The location is practical for a young family too, being just a couple of fields away from one of the best-rated outdoor nurseries in the UK, which Digby and Rosie have enjoyed attending.
It is a couple of miles from Crieff, where the children have their swimming lessons at the Hydro, less than half an hour’s drive from Perth and about the same distance from Gleneagles.
With a job move back to Edinburgh for Sandy, the couple are reluctantly leaving and Jo says it is the light that she will miss most. “When we first got married we lived in a basement flat in Edinburgh, so moving here with such wide open views and light filled rooms has been wonderful.”
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