All is not as it appears in this East Lothian Georgian farmhouse

Old Stonelaws in East Lothian is a striking house which looks from the outside every inch the Georgian farmhouse with adjoining outbuildings, but is in fact a very sympathetic rendering of old and new.
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The original parts of the house – which indeed date back to the 1700s – consist of the wing of single-storey stone cottages, while the more prominent three-storey half is modern.

You might even say that the more imposing part of the house is its extension.

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Nicola Catterall, who currently owns Old Stonelaws with her partner, Douglas McNeill, says it was exactly this combination of traditional and modern, character and convenience, that attracted the couple to the house, when they bought it 26 years ago.

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She explains the history: “There were three cottages here, in an L-shape, which were built in the 18th Century. By the 1990s, they were derelict and sold with the field by the farmer. The new owner demolished one of the cottages and built the new house on the original footprint, incorporating the other two.”

The design was created by Edinburgh’s celebrated conservation architect Nicholas Groves-Raines.

The old single-storey part of the house retains its feel with thick walls and smaller windows. It houses a huge kitchen with Aga, a utility, boot room, plus a snug with a woodburning stove.

“The old part feels old, but the newer part you can tell is not Georgian as soon as you are inside”, says Nicola, “The advantages being that you have all the convenience of a modern home that is really comfortable.”

Old Stonelaw’s ground level boasts a grand entrance hall, flanked by a sitting room, and games room, both with windows on three sides.

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The first floor hosts a principal bedroom with ensuite, two further bedrooms and a bathroom, and there are two more bedrooms and a bathroom on the top floor.

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Nicola hails from the north east of England, while Douglas is from Glasgow, and the house was exactly what they were looking for. She explains: “We were moving up from London, but had no family connections there. Our daughters were seven and nine, and we wanted to be settled somewhere nice before they really put roots down at school.

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“The house is in the North Berwick catchment area, which was ideal because the bus came and picked them up from the end of the lane every day.”

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The family had previously been in an Edwardian townhouse in London, so the absolute luxury in East Linton was space, inside and out. Nicola adds: “We used to have a galley kitchen, so when I saw the size of this one, I was really excited – I described it as a kitchen with a house attached!”

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Nicola and Douglas have improved the house greatly in their years here. She recalls: “We put in a new kitchen, right down to the flooring, changed all the bathrooms and have redecorated throughout.”

The couple also made a couple of fairly major additions. The conservatory was previously a south and west-facing patio, but the decision was made after a couple of years to enclose it to provide shelter.

Nicola says: “It turned out to be quite a big room and we use it throughout the year. It is where we tend to eat – there are pictures of us having Christmas dinner with sunglasses on – and it is a nice link between the old and new parts of the house.”

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The last big project, in 2016, was to add a balcony and decking with a hot tub outside.

Nicola says: “When the kids left home we wanted to create a more sophisticated entertaining space.

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“This has always been the house where the wider family gets together. When the kids were small, they ran around and played football, now they are grown they bring friends and sit in the hot tub.”

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Three acres of grounds are mostly taken up with a large paddock, lined by trees, but there is a putting green, stables, sheds and a polytunnel.

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Nicola and Douglas are both retired from financial services, although her last job was chief operating officer of the National Gallery. She says: “The commute into Edinburgh is pretty easy – we used to hop on the train in Drem, and it is less than half an hour into the city."

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The couple are now moving to be closer to their daughters, but Nicola has hopes for Old Stonelaws: “I would say it is ideal for a family. It is our hope that the next owners will fill it with children, dogs and horses, as it is in such a good location with plenty of lovely walks from the doorstep.”

Old Stonelaws is priced at offers over £1.35m. Contact selling agent Rettie and Co. on 0131-624 4183.

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