With its country location and city style Susan and Alex Reilly found the perfect combination in this former steading in South Lanarkshire
WHEN Susan and Alex Reilly started looking for a property four years ago, they were initially planning to buy a ‘doer-upper’. Then, as photographer Alex says: “The moment of realisation came when I said to Susan, ‘I can’t even put a shelf up – what chance have we got?’”
Instead, the couple turned their attention to this new development near Lesmahagow in South Lanarkshire. The location appealed because of the ease of access to the M74, as Alex has family in Glasgow while Susan hails from Edinburgh, so they wanted a spot that would offer a quick drive into either city. Kerse Farm was in the process of being converted at the time by developers Rocc Developments working with DTA Chartered Architects, and each of the five houses within this former stable courtyard is slightly different. Approached along an impressive tree-lined avenue, the Reillys knew this three-bedroom house was the one for them as soon as they walked in.
“There was nothing in the house; it was literally a shell and half the internal walls weren’t up, but we knew just seeing this space with the floor-to-ceiling windows and all the Veluxes,” Alex recalls.
“I’ve always liked farm steadings,” Susan says, adding, “I think it harks back to watching The Upper Hand when I was younger. I liked the way this house flowed and the high ceilings.”
Surprisingly, perhaps, 3 Home Farm reminded the couple of their previous property – an apartment within the Italian Centre in the heart of Glasgow, which they now let, and which features the same sense of volume with tall windows and lots of natural light.
“This house is so like the flat, it’s unbelievable,” Alex says. “We’d been living in the flat for ten years and it was great at first as we were out 24/7 and right in the centre of things, but everything we’d enjoyed about living there to start with we then started to hate, like the noise. Coming here, the space felt the same, but it gave us the peace and quiet we wanted.”
Although the oak flooring, and the kitchen and bathroom fittings were already either in place or specified for the house, the couple were able to put their own stamp on the interior with some of the other fittings and finishes. They chose Porcelanosa wall tiling for the master en-suite shower room and for the bathroom, with floor tiling from Fired Earth, and tweaked the layout of the bathroom so that you now see the bath when walking in while the basin is tucked into a recess.
The couple liked the idea of using slate for the floor in the kitchen, but wanted a ‘softer’ finish. “We wanted to keep it rustic but warm,” Alex says. “I had a slate floor years ago in a flat in Glasgow and every time you dropped something it smashed into 1,000 pieces.” Instead, Susan and Alex chose an Amtico finish that looks exactly like slate, and they also chose the carpeting for the bedrooms and the sisal flooring by Crucial Trading – all from Millers Flooring.
The couple also asked that a wall not be built – a wall that would have separated the living space from the hallway that leads to the two main bedrooms (the third bedroom is located just off the entrance hall, and the couple use this space as a home office). Had this wall been constructed, the hallway would have become a corridor, but without the wall this area has become an extension of the open-plan space.
Although the Reillys viewed the house in May 2009, they didn’t get the keys until September and ended up moving in before the flooring was laid, and minus a bed. “We slept on an air bed on the floor,” Alex recalls. Fortunately, given the similarities between this living space and their previous flat, their existing pieces worked here. “The others houses [in the development] are more cottagey, whereas this is more like a gallery space,” Susan says. The couple are both interested in interiors – Susan’s background is in fashion and textiles, so she shares her husband’s visual eye.
“Whenever we go on holiday we look at hotels for ideas, and we buy a lot of interiors magazines,” she says, also citing interiors blogs and Pinterest as a source of design inspiration.
This living space effortlessly combines contemporary with vintage pieces. There are some iconic design pieces, like the Arco light, which perfectly complements the lofty ceiling height, and the George Nelson clock, while the two original Bertoia chairs by the window were unearthed from an Edinburgh skip years ago by Susan’s uncle. Alex admits to having a ‘thing’ about chairs: “I keep buying chairs, but I only ever seem to buy one of anything,” he says, like the classic Panton chair in the study, or the Hille armchair by Robin Day in the living space. Even the dining table is partnered with classic Robin Day chairs.
The couple enjoy mixing design styles. In the master bedroom, the ornate headboard is a handmade piece from And So To Bed, while the bedside table and lamp are both by Philippe Starck. Alex’s best find was the vintage sideboard. “For years I’d kept going on about getting one of these Danish-designed sideboards, but they cost a fortune,” he says. One Friday afternoon, Alex’s mother called him to say she’d spotted a sideboard he’d like in a charity shop in Glasgow. “I didn’t believe it,” he admits. “I thought I’d get to the shop and it wouldn’t be right, but when I opened the drawers and found the ‘McIntosh of Kirkcaldy’ label, I realised it was the real McCoy.” Alex bought it for just £25.
Now, the sideboard along with everything else in the house will be getting packed up and taken to pastures new as Susan is six months pregnant and the couple are preparing for a fresh start. “Next time round, we’ll maybe try something more challenging,” Susan says of their next house purchase. Maybe it will be time for a bit of a doer-upper. When asked what they’ll miss in leaving, they agree the location will be a hard act to follow. “I’ll miss opening the door and being out in the amazing countryside, especially going out walks with our dog Zak,” Alex says. “Sometimes we can’t believe that we live here.”
Susan agrees. “It’s like Narnia, having this countryside and woodland on your doorstep, and seeing the wildlife that’s here, I know it seems clichéd to say that, but we will miss it.” k
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