Gordon Ross admits he surprised himself when he made an offer on Darngaber, near the Lanarkshire market town of Strathaven, just 15 minutes after walking through the door. Built in the 1930s within four-and-a-half acres of land, the four-bedroom house offered Gordon and his wife Adrienne everything they needed to allow them to live in a sprawling property and operate their businesses from home.
The house had been extended by the previous owner about 30 years ago, turning it from a cottage into a two-storey house with 60-foot-long drawing room and dining room, and a 24-foot-long billiard room. Nevertheless, the couple embarked on a rolling programme of upgrades to bring the house firmly into the 21st century.
“We bought the house 14 years ago and spent a lot doing a gradual refurbishment,” says Gordon, who runs TV production company i2i Television. “We spent around £70,000 on a new kitchen and another £30,000 converting the garages into my office space – the previous owner had a classic car collection and built quadruple garages with a bit at the back as his office. We could see the potential. That’s why I made an offer 15 minutes after coming into the house. It was perfect for us as a home and a business.
“We replaced the boiler and all of the bathrooms – we put underfloor heating into all three bathrooms and in the kitchen. We also added a chimney to the house – to us, the billiard room was screaming out for a real fire, so we installed an open fire, but changed it to a wood burning stove last year as it works better and lights quicker when we have guests round. We also replaced the doors, changing the wooden storm doors for glass to allow in more light, and replaced the balcony that leads off our bedroom. We’ve just continually upgraded through the years.”
In addition to creating offices for i2i, Adrienne established Avonbrae Cattery within the grounds, which has become a successful business in its own right. “It started as a hobby for Adrienne, but has developed greatly,” says Gordon.
Darngaber, on Bankhead Farm Road between Glassford and Strathaven, is a large property with the substantial drawing room which is open to the dining room on the ground floor, along with a separate sitting room, breakfasting kitchen, utility, family bathroom with steam room, billiard room and a bedroom. Upstairs is the master suite with ensuite and dressing area, plus the other two bedrooms, one of which has an ensuite. Gordon’s office block also contains a gym.
The couple brought in Strathaven-based Emily Ross Furnishings to help with the interior design, with a rich mix of corn, butter and paprika tones in the drawing room and sitting rooms. The wood-panelling in the billiard room has been complemented with a green wall tone, reflecting the colours of the table. The addition of comfy armchairs and tartan footstools beside the wood burning stove gives it the feel of a gentleman’s club.
“The billiard room gets used more than any other room in the house, apart from the kitchen,” says Gordon. “We laughed at the bar when we first moved into the house. It is beautifully done with mahogany wood, but we did consider taking it out. However, our friends threatened to disown us if we did – it is the most popular room when we have friends round, especially now we have the wood burner in here too.”
The kitchen was designed and installed by Palazzo of Uddingston. Black granite worktops sit over light oak units with a mix of Siemens steam ovens and coffee machines, along with a Miele wine cooler. When redesigning the bathrooms, the couple took the opportunity to install a steam room in the downstairs family bathroom, which is finished with Duravit fittings from Alan Glass bathrooms, and Porcelanosa tiles.
While the couple’s daughter Rebecca’s ensuite has a wet room-style rain shower and Alan Hume cabinetry, the master ensuite boasts a cast iron roll-top bath, rain shower and his and her sinks. Both the master bedroom and drawing room feature exposed ceiling beams, which were reclaimed from a church. The couple opted for a king-size sleigh bed that is dressed with a red velvet throw and is crowned with a canopy. Double doors open off the bedroom onto a balcony from which you can survey the grounds.
Outside, the family has landscaped much of the ground. “When we bought the house there were 17 ponds in the garden – the previous owner had developed them to attract ducks,” says Gordon. “A lot of them had grown over so we covered them all over and created a new pond in the garden. We also got the Robinson greenhouse reglazed. We deliberately got Saltire Stables to build the cattery for us in order to give flexibility for the future so it could be converted to stables at a later date, if required.”
The couple are now selling as they plan to take early retirement and sail abroad. “There’s huge potential for anyone who wants to develop a business from home, whether in the office block or cattery, or who wants to have stables at home,” says Gordon.
“This has been a good house to us and a great property for us to run our businesses from. The new M74 into Glasgow has been a big bonus for us – I can be at Glasgow airport in half an hour now.
“The lifestyle here has suited us – at the height of my business I had ten people coming here to work every day. It was ideal as there is plenty of parking. We will certainly miss the space, but it is just the two of us rattling around in it now, so it is too big. We will also miss the privacy of being here in the summer with all the doors open to the gardens. It is an oasis.”
• Darngaber, Bankhead Farm Road, near Strathaven, overs offer £625,000 through Corum (0141-639 5888, www.corumproperty.co.uk)