In terms of building a home from scratch, often the most challenging sites produce the most spectacular houses. This is certainly the case for Ruthven, a large modern house on Gwydyr Road in Crieff, Perthshire.
Carole-Ann Hopkins and her partner Bob Russell bought the building plot there in 2004.
The steeply sloping land, which had been the carpark for a hotel which has now reverted to a private residence, had already been granted outline planning permission, but it was for a two-bedroomed coach house.
The couple were attracted to the outstanding views from the location overlooking the town’s Macrosty Park which will never be built on. However, they felt a simple coach house couldn’t make the best of these views.
They commissioned the architect James Denholm to improve the design and he worked with Perth and Kinross Council to agree to a much more ambitious build.
Carole-Ann says: “It is over two-and-a-half storeys and is a much bigger house. But it was quite a complicated build, with three retaining walls.”
She says of the final design: “What impressed us about the architects is they didn’t ask us what we wanted, they asked us how we lived and then designed the house accordingly.”
Rob Roy Homes designed the kit for the house and employed a project manager as both Carole-Ann and Bob were working full time in Dundee, throughout the build.
As far as it was possibly, they employed local companies to carry out the work; the roofer came the furthest from Stirling.
The building warrant on such a complicated build took time to come through, but work eventually started in 2005 and the couple moved in, in October the following year although the house wasn’t quite complete.
Carole-Ann says: “Parts of the wooden outside walkways hadn’t arrived, so getting in and out of the house was a complicated business.”
That is no longer the case, although it is an unusual arrangement.
The slope of the site means that the integral double garage, while at ground level at the back leads to the first floor at the front, where there is also a front door, up the staircase.
The accommodation on this middle level has at its centre an open-plan kitchen, dining and family room with breathtaking views from a wall of windows. Carole-Ann says: “I’m a bit of a reluctant cook so the kitchen was designed so that I could join in with socialising and look at the view when cooking.
“Although the whole house is wired for TV and telephone etc, we deliberately chose not to have a television in here – the views are all you need.”
Double doors lead out to the balcony and a separate larger lounge adjoins, with a woodburning stove. There is also a utility room and a bathroom on this level.
On the lower ground floor are two bedrooms, one ensuite and one bathroom, plus an additional sitting room.
When the couple moved in, their teenage son was still living at home so this became his domain, but it would work equally well for an elderly relative or as a sumptuous space for a home office – two sets of double doors lead out to decking at the front.
The top floor houses the master bedroom with an attractive coombed ceiling, and a vast ensuite and dressing room with velux windows. There is a single bedroom up there too.
The garden, when the couple moved in, was something of a blank canvas although Carole-Ann says they managed to keep the mature trees which shelter it.
“They make for an incredibly private house as you can’t see us from the road, although for us the views are long range – we can see all the way to the West Coast.”
Bob took on transforming the garden starting with just topsoil and the grounds now consist of a lovely rolling lawn and some beautiful flowerbeds and an additional area of decking.
With their son now having left home, they plan an eventual move to Portugal, but say Ruthven has been everything they envisaged.
Carole-Ann adds: “There is very little I could think of to change about the house.”
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