Tour a stylish family home which is on sale in a charming Fife location

A talented couple have put contemporary taste and easy living at the heart of a traditional stone family pile in Fife

Back in March 2013, Neil and Will Harman were living in Bridge of Allan and in the throes of planning their wedding in July while looking for a family home.

Picture: Henderson Roche

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Although the couple had hoped to stay local, when they came across this property in the Fife village of Saline it was too good an opportunity to miss – even though the property required a complete renovation.

“We wanted something we could put our stamp on, but I don’t think we realised how much we were taking on,” says Neil.

Picture: Henderson Roche

The house had been repossessed and had stood empty for over a year, and the interior was in a sorry state – a mix of 1970s décor and the damage that comes with leaving a property empty.

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But it ticked so many boxes in terms of size and accessibility and Neil and Will knew that they could create a fantastic family home here for themselves, and now for their son Hugo, who is two, and their Boston Terrier Seven.

Will works for the University of Dundee and also travels overseas with his job, so he needed to be within easy driving distance of Edinburgh Airport, while Neil is a business consultant and wanted good commuting links across the central belt. The prestigious Dollar Academy is also nearby.

As part of his job, Neil has great project management skills, but he also has a passion for interiors and an ability to visualise spaces from overall design to the smallest details, which were essential for this project.

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To extend the house to create today’s vast kitchen, dining and living space, with bi-fold doors opening up the rear wall into the south-facing garden, the couple worked on a design with architect Stefano Turato.

Picture: Henderson Roche

It took a year to get planning permission for the extension, which was granted in June 2014, and during that time the couple were able to start on the fundamental refurbishment work required on the rest of the house, which was stripped back to its bare bones.

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Neil and Will were able to apply for a grant for cavity wall insulation and were committed to reinstating any period features affected by this work.

They also installed dual zoned SMART controlled central heating along with CAT 6 cabling throughout, creating a period home that’s ready for the demands of a modern lifestyle.

As Neil says: “It’s like a brand new house within the skin of an old house.”

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The couple renamed the property The Maine House, which gives a nod both to its address at 1 Main Street in Saline, and to Will, who comes from the state of Maine in the United States, and to their son Hugo, who was born in Portland.

Stripping the house back also enabled the couple to reconsider the way existing spaces were used.

Picture: Henderson Roche

One of the first floor bedrooms became a bathroom and another became a dressing room for the master bedroom.

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This space also leads through to the nursery. The house now has three bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs, and the couple created a new shower room for the latter.

Picture: Henderson Roche

The Maine House has two bay windowed reception rooms to the front as well as a sun room to the rear, although the new extension has transformed the way that this home functions by re-orientating the house towards the garden.

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Picture: Henderson Roche

As the garden is enclosed and private, the decision was made to install the glazed wall of bi-fold doors, and this, combined with the vaulted ceiling over the kitchen, creates a sense of volume and light.

“We liked the thought of blending the extension with the house but also representing design now, so we used a lot of the original stone and worked with a skilled stonemason, and Stefano suggested the anthracite-coloured zinc for the roof,” says Neil.

Picture: Henderson Roche

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Stefano also recommended JPS Restoration, and Neil and Will were delighted with their attention to detail and the quality of their work.

From the start, Neil had a clear concept of how this space would look, from the kitchen with its twin islands to the statement lighting and the concrete-effect kitchen cabinetry.

“I wanted something handle-less and substantial and grounded, and I like greys as a neutral palette,” he says.

“I also wanted the kitchen to be finger-proof for kids, so I didn’t want a gloss finish.”

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Picture: Henderson Roche

When the kitchen company Neil was working with, Ashley Ann in Stirling, got in touch about some new cabinetry samples that had arrived, one of which was called “concrete”, Neil knew this was the one.

“The kitchen was a big investment and we didn’t want something that would date quickly,” says Neil.

“We put a lot of ‘extras’ in here, like the downdraught extractor and the boiling water tap, and the sliding ovens that were made famous by The Great British Bake Off, which are brilliantly practical.”

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Picture: Henderson Roche

The attention to detail and quality is apparent throughout this immaculate home, which is now on the market fully furnished.

Will and Neil have enjoyed having the space here to play host to friends and family, and for there to be space for everyone, from the open plan entertaining zone to the sitting room with its mirrored wall, where you can simply cosy up with a book near to a blazing fire.

Picture: Henderson Roche

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Indeed, details such as the mirrored wall show Neil’s ingenuity when faced with a design challenge.

Originally, the couple had planned to install windows flanking the fireplace, but this would have been expensive, and Neil realised that adding a mirror to the whole wall would reflect the light to striking effect.

“Once I have an idea, I don’t procrastinate,” he says.

“My project management head kicks in and I think, ‘Where can I source this for the right price…’ I don’t mind pattern and bold colours.

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"I wanted each room to have its own identity but still with a feeling of consistency through the house.”

Picture: Henderson Roche

The Maine House has also been used as a successful holiday let after someone approached the couple last summer and enquired if they could rent it.

Picture: Henderson Roche

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The couple had had plans for a second extension on the other side of the house, and there’s a former stable that might lend itself to being redeveloped as additional accommodation, but those are projects for the future – and for someone else.

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“We did worry initially that this was more house than we were capable of taking on,” Neil recalls, but clearly it wasn’t.

Picture: Henderson Roche

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The Harmans have created a stunning home, one designed for easy family living and gatherings with friends.

“Opening the doors into the south-facing garden, even on a dull day, and being able to enjoy this space, I don’t think we’ll have this again in a house,” says Neil. “That’s what I’ll miss.”

Picture: Henderson Roche

The Maine House is for sale at offers over £575,000 with Henderson Roche.

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Words: Fiona Reid

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