For sale: the country house with a cottage feel

Biel Park, Stenton near Dunbar in East Lothian is a very pretty house set in its own grounds. Although it has the appearance of a country cottage, Biel Park is actually a substantial home with four bedrooms, four public rooms and beautiful countryside views.

The exterior of Biel Park, Stenton, near Dunbar

Philip and Liz Johnston bought the house 15 years ago, after retiring back to Scotland following 30 years living and working abroad.

Liz says: “We were initially in Edinburgh but we wanted to get out to the country. We saw an advert for the house in Thursday’s Scotsman and by Saturday we had bought it.”

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It is easy to see why the house would inspire such love at first sight.

The dining kitchen

Tucked down a driveway in a small hamlet consisting of just six houses, the location is very private, but is convenient to get into Edinburgh just over half an hour’s drive away.

The house is secluded but not remote, with the conservation village of Stenton a little more than a mile from the house and Dunbar five miles away.

A big draw was the grounds; the previous owner was a landscape gardener and the two acres of Biel Park start with extensive lawns bordered with a colourful and established array of plants, trees and shrubs. There are stepped terraces, garden rooms and box hedging dividing up the different areas.

Liz says: “The garden is a bit like the house in that it has different quirky areas with their own character.”

The landscaped garden

At the foot of the garden is open parkland perfect for use as a paddock, but as the Johnstons don’t have a pony they have turned it into a vegetable garden with prolific fruit trees.

There are outhouses including a delightful sun-trap summer house, a wood store and two sheds.

Inside, the couple reconfigured the house, creating a first-floor drawing room by taking down a wall between two bedrooms.

The room, with open fire and beautiful views, and its adjoining study spans the width of the house while the length of this upper floor is taken up by a luxurious master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe.

The conservatory

Two of the three other bedrooms are in a downstairs wing, while the Johnstons extended the house at the other side to add another bedroom and create an ensuite, to balance the accommodation when they created the drawing room upstairs.

Opposite is a room currently used as a charming sitting room with an open fire and French doors flanked by astragal windows that open to the south facing courtyard.

This room could be split to form two more bedrooms if required.

The arrangement makes for a very flexible house which would equally suit a large family with children, or like the Johnstons, a couple who like to have plenty of room for visitors.

The dining kitchen

Philip and Liz have two daughters, living in Edinburgh and Italy, plus four grandchildren aged between six and 18 who are frequent guests.

Liz says: “The younger ones have loved coming here and the wider grounds are full of dens they have built.

“The lawns are used for games of football or croquet in the summer, there is a barbecue area and we always have a houseful at Christmas.”

The couple have really enjoyed the outside space surrounding the house, where they can walk their dogs from the front door.

Liz says: “It is two acres, but not difficult to maintain, Philip mows the paddock on a ride-on lawn mower and is in charge of pruning and the vegetable garden, while I tackle everything else.”

The views from the house and the grounds are of the surrounding farmland, while the conservatory, which adjoins the dining room, is a luxurious addition to make the most of the house’s situation in all seasons.

The landscaped garden

The large dining kitchen is at the heart of the house and has windows to the front and rear.

Biel Park has been a perfect home for the Johnstons but with so many good independent and state schools in close proximity it would equally attract a young family, an equestrian buyer or a multi-generational family with its three separate areas of self-contained bedrooms.

Offers over £725,000. Contact Rettie & Co

on 0131 220 4159.

The conservatory