WHAT started as the refurbishment and extension of an 1850 farmhouse in the idyllic Clyde Valley, turned into a complete rebuild for Stuart Clemenson and his wife Shelley Percival when they bought Crossbank Farmhouse just over three years ago.
The couple had lived in the village of Crossford for six years but wanted to either build a new house or take on a property they could completely make their own. They spent time searching within a one-and-a-half mile radius of Crossford for land until Crossbank Farmhouse came up for sale. Sitting in an acre and a half of ground with breathtaking views over the village and the River Clyde, they wanted to extend it out, remove the roof and build a new first floor to create a five-bedroom home.
However, a couple of months into the work, the builders realised the walls were crumbling and would not take the weight of a new storey.
“When we bought the house in June 2009 we were already three months into the planning process as the previous owners had given us permission to go for planning,” recalls Stuart, a sergeant with Strathclyde Police. “I had drawn the house designs and got an architect to tweak them for me. When we started the build, walls began to fall down and it became clear they would not take the weight of the first floor. By November 2009 our builder, Cowan Construction from Lesmahagow, said the best option was to pull it down and rebuild it. Planning could see the problem and, as we were not changing the design, we were able to go ahead, taking the house down and rebuilding it. The house literally came down during one afternoon in November.”
Rebuilt in the style of the former Victorian farmhouse, but with a contemporary interior and layout that suits a busy household, Crossbank has been designed to bring together the very best of old and new - three-metre high ceilings, subtle stepped room divisions, solid oak doors and flooring, zoned central heating and a double height atrium that floods the main living space and first floor with natural daylight.
Stuart was incredibly detailed in his plans, down to specifying where sockets and TV aerials would go, and the style of door handle, even before work started. He insisted on the square cut in the door facings being replicated on the banisters, as well as the square glass cut-outs of the doors being copied on an etched glass window that bridges the hallway and kitchen. The only change to plans came when the couple realised the layout of the open-plan kitchen didn’t leave enough space for the red Aga fridge freezer on which Shelley had set her heart.
“We got Palazzo Kitchens to design the kitchen and they explained there was not enough room for that specific Aga model so we decided to extend the house by 600mm to make space for the fridge freezer,” laughs Stuart, who project managed the build, despite holding down a full-time job. Shelley – a dentist who has her own practice in Crossford – had also just given birth to the couple’s daughter Nyah, now three, and their son James, aged eight, started school.
“The build did take over our life,” concedes Stuart. “Trying to do it all – with the new baby, the business and my work – was hard going. I got to the point where I was burst by the end of it, though having said that I loved every second of it too. We moved in during July 2010.”
While he was on site every day to oversee the work, Stuart also used his skills as a former electrical engineer with Scottish Power to install a surround sound system, and all of the lighting. The overall finish throughout the house is commendable.
Walking through the front door you are greeted by a warm and welcoming open hallway that leads up a couple of steps into the dining room, along to the living room or through into the open plan kitchen, dining and living space, with double doors that open onto a balcony. Much of the furniture is oak, while family photographs adorn most walls.
In the kitchen, the red Aga is surrounded by cream painted oak units, an oak worktop and an island unit with a Black Galaxy granite top. A couple of steps lead up to the living space, and in turn through to a shower room and utility, which has been finished with red units.
Stairs lead from the hallway down to the lower ground level where a games room and office are found, again with patio doors leading out to the garden. Upstairs, five bedrooms have been created, each with its own identity. Nyah and James’ bedrooms both feature dressing rooms and share a Jack and Jill bathroom with freestanding bath and rain shower, while one of the spare bedrooms is currently used as a playroom. The other spare room has an exquisite en suite with subtle wallpaper-effect tiles featuring flowers and Paisley pattern. Overlooking the atrium into the living space is a lounging area with over-sized swivel chair that takes in the views down the Clyde Valley.
The master bedroom too enjoys this view, with double doors opening into the room. A feature wall of black damask wallpaper sits comfortably with the chunky wooden furniture, while the en suite is an indulgent space with dressing room, slate feature wall behind the freestanding bath, wall-mounted TV and his and hers circular sinks. A wet room with double rain showers is also cleverly concealed behind the slate wall.
Having rebuilt Crossbank Farmhouse and loved it for the past two years, the couple have decided to sell with the hope of moving a little closer to the children’s school at Hamilton.
“We are delighted with the house and love the location – I can be in Glasgow city centre in 25 minutes and Lanark is just five miles away,” says Stuart. “We virtually live in the open-plan kitchen and living space – our first two-bedroom semi would have fitted in this room alone. We know we will never find a house of this size and with this land in a more built-up area, but we think we need to live a little closer to James’ friends.”
Crossbank Farmhouse, Crossford, is for sale at offers over £695,000 through Savills (0141-222 5875, www.savills.co.uk)