How an uprgrade gave an old farmhouse a bold new view

WHEN Kevin and Karen Finnie bought the 150-year-old farmhouse Laigh Midton, which overlooks the Ayrshire village of Minishant, six years ago, they loved the building’s charm and warm welcome. But a stroll around the garden one summer’s evening inspired them to open the house up to take advantage of the stunning views over the Carrick Hills and beyond.

“We knew it was a lovely house but there was no view to the front,” recalls Kevin, who runs iFire Security Ltd. “There were three small windows to the front plus a huge Belfast sink at the kitchen window that you could barely see over. Quite literally, we went for a stroll, agreed the view was incredible and decided we needed to get that view into the house, because that is all part of living here.”

What followed was a well thought out programme of upgrade, with a wraparound extension to the front and a two-storey master suite extension to the side. Walls were knocked through from the kitchen into the extension, which has floor-to-ceiling windows. A step down now leads into the sitting room, which has vaulted ceiling and full height windows – this room leads in turn into the lounge and the dining room, a glorious space with a mix of glass roof, exposed stone, claret painted walls and limestone floor.

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The former master bedroom is now an open hallway leading up to two guest bedrooms, the nursery for one-year-old Elliot, up to two-year-old Bailey’s bedroom and 12-year-old Zara’s room, which was the original farmhouse’s living and dining room. It also leads into the new master suite, which is vast, with exquisite en suite – with Porcelanosa feature tiling, Laufen Palomba pebble-shaped sink and underfloor heating – and dressing room with a wall of glass at one end and an oak staircase that leads up to the master bedroom.

“We discovered the shape of our en suite sink is ideal for bathing a newborn baby in,” laughs Kevin of its soft elongated lines. “The en suite is a really nice space – we decided since we had the room we had to do something really special. We got Carrick Bathrooms to do all the bathrooms for us. We both have our own areas in the dressing room, plus it means the bedroom is clear of wardrobes. The dressing room is big – I’m sure I could have fitted my first flat in this room alone.”

He adds: “We have possibly stayed in too many boutique hotels in our time. When in Austria we had a loft bedroom and I just loved it so we designed our room like that. We also wanted the glass wall to continue up into our bedroom so we see the sun rising in the morning and the moon at night. It is just fantastic.”

The detail throughout is impressive – from the glass balcony circling the decking outside the house which ensures an unobstructed view from all rooms, to the LED colour changing lighting edging the monoblock courtyard at the entrance. But Kevin admits that when the couple embarked on this journey they hadn’t intended doing so much work.

“When we moved in, the first thing we did was monoblock the driveway as it was previously chipped and Zara, who was six at the time, couldn’t get out to play on her bike,” he says. “It was a huge expense but it created a really nice area. We then rewired the house, put in new lighting, replaced all the radiators and upgraded the heating. There is not a surface in the house that remains the same – it is one of those things that just snowballed once we started. We probably did two-thirds more than we originally intended to do. The house is so well insulated now that it’s always warm. We also lived here during all the work – I think Karen and I have lived in every room at some point.”

Nevertheless, the couple have created an inviting family home that now takes full advantage of its surroundings. The elegant kitchen, with its underfloor heating, has a mix of matt granite and oak worktops, cream units and limestone flooring, with the addition of a Welsh slate feature wall. A Rayburn rests within its original painted brick fireplace, while an oak table – which belonged to Kevin’s parents – sits by doors that lead out to the decking area.

Two bespoke raised fireplaces were created in the sitting room and lounge, which share an open gas fire. The sitting room fire has a limestone hearth, while the lounge fire is flush to the wall, which again has a Welsh slate finish.

“We wanted the fire to be shared between the rooms but wanted the fireplaces to be completely different,” says Kevin. “When sitting in the lounge you can look through the fire and then through the sitting room windows so the fire is almost like another window in the room.

“The kitchen has turned out pretty much how we imagined it. We tried out a few colours and then our painter mixed two shades of blue and grey to create this slate tone, which we continued into the sitting room.”

Colour features heavily throughout the house, from the deep red in the dining room, to the rich aubergine in the master suite and the pink paisley pattern in Zara’s bedroom. Subtle coloured glass mosaic tiles have been used in Bailey’s en suite, while each of the vertical radiators has been painted to blend with the wall tones. There is plenty of colour outside too thanks to the 25 acres of surrounding fields, paddocks and trees, as well as the stable block and riding arena which was created by the previous owner.

Despite having created this idyll, the couple are selling and hoping to buy a new home a little closer to Ayr, which is five miles away.

“If we could lift this house and put it in town it would be fantastic, but then it wouldn’t be the same house without the views,” concedes Kevin. “I do believe there is a house for every stage in your life, though I will definitely miss this house.” k

Laigh Midton, Minishant, by Ayr, is for sale at offers over £850,000 through CKD Galbraith (01292 268 181, 
www.ckdgalbraith.co.uk)