Real homes: Heriot home transformation

Nether Brotherstone House near Heriot
Nether Brotherstone House near Heriot
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Nether Brotherstone House in Midlothian is a wonderful example of its era. Dating from 1935, it was commissioned by a mill owner from Lasswade, John Todd, as a country retreat in what was a cutting edge design for the time.

The house is unusual, built in a butterfly shape to take advantage of its elevated site and long views over the countryside near Heriot.

The drawing room

The drawing room

Its prominent position meant that current owners, Allan and Siobhan Dawson, had long admired it when it came on the market 16 years ago.

Expecting their first child at the time, the couple had already “dipped a toe” into rural life with a move out of Edinburgh to a cottage in Humbie and were looking for a larger family home.

Siobhan says: “At the time we described it as a real ‘wow’ house but didn’t really consider the potential before we bought it.

“I grew up in a house of the same era, so features such as the panelling, the parquet flooring and the beautiful fireplaces just made it feel like home.”

The terrace

The terrace

The house was much loved by the previous owners, but it needed some upgrading.

Siobhan says: “It didn’t have central heating, just three open fires, it needed rewiring and replumbing and many of the windows didn’t actually close, so had to be replaced.”

Remedial work was carried out while the couple moved out for a month, but two years later they embarked on a project, when expecting their second child, which would totally rework the upstairs of the house.

Siobhan says: “There were two bedrooms and a long dark corridor up there which didn’t seem to make the most of the space.

The dining room

The dining room

“Because I was pregnant, I made Allan go up and poke around in the eaves to have a look for extra space.”

Fortunately Allan is an surveyor, and with the help of an architect and structural engineer, the couple were able to come up with a design that hugely increased the usable space.

The reworked floor houses three bedrooms, a bathroom and ensuite and is flooded with light with large Velux windows lining the landing which also frame the views.

Siobhan says: “To find so much potential after we had bought the house was amazing. But the project took six to eight months and we took the whole of the upper floor back to floorboards and roof trusses before reshaping the whole space.”

They also took the opportunity to increase the light on the lower floor.

A double-height central hall was enclosed, but taking down a wall at first-floor level and adding a glass balcony links the two floors and is an impressive feature.

The lower floor of the house has beautiful public spaces.

A formal drawing room and dining room, both with woodburning stoves flank the entrance.

One wing houses the master bedroom suite, the other a dining kitchen, utility room and study while a further guest bedroom and snug are found at the back of the house.

The grounds, which measure over 
11 acres, were equally well loved when the Dawson’s took over, but again they took the opportunity to make improvements.

Allan says: “We wanted to increase the amenity of the grounds, while making sure that it was low maintenance and a real addition to the house.”

The couple have added a tennis court, planted over 5,000 trees to create a woodland area and added terracing and a sunken eating area.

A huge pond with its own island, shaped to reflect the lines of the house, replaced a previously unused boggy area of garden.

Fed by a small burn, it attracts wildlife all year round; herons abound and every year geese return to raise their goslings.

Siobhan says: “It is lovely to sit with a glass of wine on a sunny day and listen to the occasion plop of the trout jumping.”

The couple’s two children, now teenagers, have made the most of the wealth of outside space.

The tennis court is used for hockey and basketball as well, the pond is a lovely spot for a swim and the grounds are peppered with dens.

Siobhan says: “They have been so lucky to grow up in such an idyllic spot, and we have really made the most of it.”

Offers over £575,000, contact Strutt &

Parker on 0131 718 4595.