When Andy and Norma Cameron were planning the design of their Auchterarder home, they knew they wanted light, and a house that worked.
NORMA and Andy Cameron didn’t set out searching for a plot of land where they could build a house; rather, the idea crept up on them. “We used to come up to the Gleneagles Hotel,” Norma explains. “This was just a favourite spot really and we’d always said it would be really nice one of these days to have a home here, and then, one day, we did.”
Rather than buying a plot, the Camerons purchased an existing bungalow on Orchil Road in the Perthshire town of Auchterarder back in 2006, always with the intention of demolishing the house and building here. Norma and Andy, who is a well-kent face in Scotland and beyond through his years as a comedian, television and radio broadcaster, were based in Glasgow at the time – they still have a home in the city – so Auchterarder was initially planned as their second home; a place to escape to at weekends.
The couple wasted no time: having bought the property in July, they had hired local architect George Murray of GHM Design in Crieff, drawn up plans for the new house, and submitted those plans to the local planning authority by December that same year.
“We wanted light,” Norma says of their brief to the architect. “We wanted a bright house with lots of natural light coming in. And we didn’t want a big house; we wanted something that was a lot easier and that flowed better than the conventional, traditional houses we’d always lived in. Before, when we’d had people over for dinner, they’d be in the dining room and I’d be in the kitchen, and at the end of the night I’d realise that I’d missed half the conversation. This time, we didn’t want formal dining. It was a complete lifestyle change for us.”
The Camerons had worked through a few different layouts before settling on Pinewood as it is today. The four bedrooms are upstairs on the first floor, and two of them, including the master bedroom, are en suite. There is also a shower room off the upper hall serving the remaining two bedrooms.
The ground level reflects the couple’s desire for flowing space. The front of the house faces north, but the couple counteracted this by positioning a sun room here with concertina doors opening into the drawing room behind, pulling light into the space.
There is also an office, another shower room, a boot room and utility room, and the garage connects directly into the boot room – an important feature, Norma explains, as after years of lugging groceries in from the car and getting soaked, she wanted this house to be practical. Also, the couple have two Vizsla dogs. “We’ll bring the dogs in from the moors when they’re up to their armpits in peat and, this way, we can get them washed and dried before bringing them into the house,” Norma explains.
Arguably the highlight of this house is the light-drenched, south-facing kitchen, dining and living room at the rear, which opens onto the garden. This is where the couple tend to live, and it’s where family and friends gather. “Our previous kitchen was probably the size of this whole room, but all you did was walk back and forwards when cooking; it was like a marathon, whereas this is a fabulous kitchen to work in,” Norma says. In fact, when unpacking, she realised there was more storage space in this kitchen than her last – the result of careful planning and good design.
As well as the desire for light and flow, the couple had a strong concept for the aesthetic of this interior. “We wanted something traditionally modern,” Norma says. Contemporary, in other words, yet resonant with something older, softer and timeless, as reflected in the choice of materials that includes oak, which is used for flooring and doors and architraves, and for the staircase; and slate, which again features as a floor finish and as feature walls in the hallway and drawing room. The kitchen cabinetry is in solid walnut, while the slate floor here creates a sense of flow outside onto the patio. It’s a beautifully organic palette.
This is also reflected in the bathroom and shower rooms, which are sleek and contemporary with custom-made walk-in shower enclosures. The master suite includes oak detailing that adds warmth alongside the grey slate tiling, and slate also features in the ground floor shower room, while the remaining two shower rooms have pale soapstone tiling.
“It’s said that if you buy a house you should live in it for a while and the house tells you what to do. Here, once the house was built, it led itself to the choices we made,” Norma reflects. “I thought it would be a daunting process, but as it went along things just seemed to fit.”
Work began on the house in March 2007 and was completed by November 2008. “It was relatively smooth as the services were already here and our builder was good,” Norma says. The downside was the commuting as Norma was travelling from Glasgow. “At that time they were building the A9 and I would always be getting stuck in traffic,” she says. It was a draining process. “I’d never do another project while living elsewhere again,” she agrees.
When the build was complete the Camerons rented the house to friends who were tackling a project of their own, and when that project was completed two years ago, Norma and Andy finally had the opportunity to transform Pinewood into their home. It was at this point that they added the feature walls in Chinese slate, including the chimney breast in the drawing room, and they chose this particular finish for its warm brown and coppery tones. They also added the contemporary gas fire here as a practical alternative to an open fire – although the chimney is designed for the latter.
The hues of the Chinese slate also informed the colour palette. Norma didn’t have to source new furniture for this house as the couple’s existing pieces have been given new life here – such as the high-backed porter’s chair in the drawing room that was reupholstered in a plaid fabric from Osborne & Little. The master bedroom features a grey-brown-charcoal Harris Tweed sourced direct from a weaver on Harris, which was used for the curtains and for the base of the bed, and complemented by an Abraham Moon wool fabric on the upholstered headboard.
“I stole a few ideas from Glenmor at Gleneagles,” Norma admits, referring to the luxurious holiday lodges to rent within Gleneagles’ grounds, where the interiors combine contemporary plaids with a similarly subtle and warm colour scheme. “I wanted to bring in a bit of tweedy plaid with interesting colours.”
Talking about the end result, Andy says, “Pinewood is a great flexible home that ticks all the boxes for easy modern living when we are here alone or entertaining our family and friends.”
So, having lived here and enjoyed Pinewood’s combination of easy comfort and style, would the Camerons do it all again? “If I could put this house on the back of a lorry and move it closer to our family, I would,” Norma says. “This has been our home and I love it, but what we’ve done here, we can do again.”
Guide price £750,000; contact Rettie & Co (0131-220 4160, www.rettie.co.uk)