Interiors: Greenhill Lodge

Designer Jane Thomas fell in love with Greenhill Lodge, in the foothills of the Cheviots, from a picture in a magazine

Interior designer Jane Thomas was looking for a holiday home in Wales when a magazine advert for a magnificent property in the Scottish Borders caught her eye. "I fell in love with the beautiful landscape and Scotland is now where my heart belongs," says Jane, whose outdoorsy family likes nothing better than a lengthy hike through the countryside followed by a house party in warm, comfortable surroundings.

For one thing, Greenhill Lodge couldn't be more suited to walkers, being set at the foot of the Cheviot Hills.

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"You can even walk to England from the doorstep, and join the Pennine Way," says Jane, who also relishes the proximity to good restaurants and shops in nearby Jedburgh and Kelso.

Handily located within a 90-minute drive of both Edinburgh and Newcastle airports, the house is perfect for entertaining, since it was built as a shooting lodge (for the present Duke of Roxburghe's great grandfather). Extended during the Victorian period, the property was let by the Duke from between 1940 and 1943 to accommodate pupils attending the Rudolph Steiner School in Edinburgh, when it was evacuated from the city.

By the time Jane first laid eyes on the house, around ten years ago, it was derelict, but her business experience meant that she wasn't overwhelmed by the prospect of reviving this substantial country home. Based in Cheshire, Jane Thomas Interiors specialises in design (from concept to completion) for prestigious residential properties and has clients in locations as far flung as the Bahamas and South Africa.

Structurally, Greenhill Lodge needed lots of tender loving care, but the extent of this work gave Jane the opportunity to address changes that would improve the practicality of the house too. Some of the smallest bedrooms were, for example, converted into bathrooms, to allow the largest bedrooms on the first and second floors the luxury of en suite facilities.

And Jane wanted to ensure a warm reception on return to the house for guests who would spend lots of time either traipsing around the hills, salmon fishing on the area's rivers or playing golf at the nearby championship Roxburghe course.

"It's rare to find instant hot water throughout an 11-bedroom house," says Jane, but a new heating system she had installed provides just that. Features such as a drying room were also created with weary walkers in mind.

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Rather than blitz this project quickly, Jane took a sensitive approach to the refurbishment, working over a period of years under the watchful eye of The Georgian Society, with which the house is listed for preservation purposes.

"We always wanted to retain original features, so there was never any conflict of interest," says Jane.

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Two of the original Duke's bathrooms, for example, boasted fixtures and fittings from the Georgian era. Rather than replace these with slick new contemporary designs, Jane had the existing items overhauled, retaining the visual authenticity without compromising on functionality.

What new features were introduced are entirely in tune with the setting; a vast stone fireplace and wood burner was made for the kitchen/dining area using stone salvaged from a property in Kelso.

Unlike so many holiday homes, this house interior was approached very much from a personal perspective.

"I might go for very different styles in clients' properties, but I wanted this house to be like my home," says Jane, who often arranges to meet clients from Scotland and the north of England at Greenhill Lodge to discuss projects.

The eclectic style Jane has opted for is, she says, "traditional with a twist", using, for example, fabrics that are at home in the country house environment yet in contemporary colourways. Jane Thomas Interiors has its own soft furnishing division as well as a range of upholstered furniture, from which items such as the dining room chairs and sofas in the lounge were selected. She also used the wealth of distinctive interior suppliers at her fingertips to find items such as the glass coffee table in the lounge, imported from Italy.

Wallpapers by Watts of Westminster in the drawing and dining rooms were hand-printed in colours specified by Jane, and in the dining room luscious silk taffeta curtains complement a beautiful blue shade within the paper.

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More bespoke work is on show in the kitchen, the walls of which are painted a warm red. The units were custom built and hand painted, and thick glass was used to create some useful yet unobtrusive shelving.

Since the house accommodates between 16 and 20 guests it was important that the kitchen should be well equipped. Small weddings and family reunions regularly take place here, and while the kitchen table can seat up to a dozen guests, the bespoke square table in the dining room is designed to accommodate 16, and opens to create a larger buffet table.

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Individuality was key to the bedrooms, so each is furnished with a distinctive look. The Feather Room, for example, boasts French fabrics by Pierre Frey with feather motifs. In the Shetland Room, tactile Shetland wool fabrics and traditional tartans are widely used.

Antique furnishings, elegant light fittings and quirky accessories contribute to the eclectic twist that characterises Jane's unique style.

A TV room-cum-library with its own stove, and a games room, complete with pool table, provide further spaces to which guests can retire. The latter room provides access from the main house to a rear wing that acts as an interconnected cottage with its own sitting/dining area, kitchen and two large bedrooms.

And via a gate in the garden wall lies a little bothy that Jane has turned into a one-bedroom retreat, ideal for guests who bring their own chef.

After all, with so much stylish comfort to enjoy, nobody else will want to think of cooking.

Large Holiday Houses Ltd, 01381 610496,; Jane Thomas Interiors, 01625 860111, [email protected]

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• This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday, January 31, 2010